Tavaziva Dance. Credit: Dillon Rose

Horniman commissions dance responses to African collection

Rebecca Atkinson, 01.07.2015
Performances will help inform redisplay of anthropology collections
The Horniman Museum and Gardens in London has commissioned five artists to perform dance responses to its African collection.

The performances will take place at the museum in July and August as part of its African Summer festival, which celebrates the continent’s cultural influence on London.

The five commissioned companies and performers have been given access to the Horniman’s anthropology curators and objects in its collection to help inform their work.

“We weren’t specifically looking for dance but the most interesting responses to an open call for artists were from dance companies,” said Tim Corum, the Horniman’s director of curatorial and public engagement. “I think this is the result of the Horniman’s previous work with performers, but also a move among museums to increasingly look to incorporate dance into what they do.”

Over the next year, the Horniman will continue to explore how dance can be used in the museum space, with performers curating events for young people and late-night events.

The African Summer festival performances will also feed into the museum’s redisplay of its anthropology collections, including the African Worlds gallery, which received initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a £3.1m grant at the end of last year.

“We want to rethink our collections by building on the legacy of participatory work around African Worlds,” Corum said. “It’s about inviting new ways of thinking about the museum through dance, and looking at the integration of culture and developing links and participation with communities in London and all over the world.”

The dance commissions have been funded by the Horniman with support from Arts Council England’s grants for the arts. The successful commissions were selected by a panel from the museum and Trinity Laban, a London-based music and dance college.

They are:

Dipo, performed by Vocab Dance Company with choreographer and dancer Alesandra Seutin.

Odehe, a new production by Ghanaian choreographer and musician Nii Kwartey Owoo and performed by Miishejeloi Dance Theatre.

Sewa Fare, performed by Ballet Nimba and choreographed by Guinean Idrissa Camara.

vuKa, performed by N’da Dance Company.

When King Gogo met the Chameleon, created by Zimbabwe-born Bawren Tavaziva in collaboration with his dancers and dramaturge and writer Chris Fogg, and performed by Tavaziva Dance.

During the festival the museum will host live music, photography, museum displays, film and dance, including carnival parades and Afro-jazz picnics, as well as African-inspired family arts and crafts, object-handling and storytelling activities.