“It was an arranged marriage,” laughs BaKari E. Lindsay, describing the new dance work City of Tribes, co-choreographed with Bawren Tavaziva.
Lindsay, 43, born in Trinidad, is co-artistic director of Toronto's COBA (Collective of Black Artists). Tavaziva, 33, born in Zimbabwe, is artistic director of London's Tavaziva Dance.
When both companies appeared at the International Association of Blacks in Dance Conference held in Toronto in 2006, Vivine Scarlett, director of the Dance Immersion organization that supports black dance, thought their choreographic styles would work well together. She found the funding for the project, and her group and DanceWorks are the presenters.
Tavaziva describes his choreography as a fusion of ballet technique and African natural rhythm. COBA is anchored in the traditional dance language of West Africa and the Caribbean tempered with modern dance. Tavaziva calls COBA's style raw, while Lindsay sees Tavaziva as classical. Says Lindsay: “Together we're a complete body workout. He loves the legs and I love the torso.
“What emerged,” says Lindsay, “is a notion of tribes, particularly the primitive feelings that cities evoke.”
Adds Tavaziva: “It is ultimately about tribes from different cultures coming together to co-exist. It's a celebration of the new world order without segregation.”
City of Tribes is part of a mixed program. COBA is remounting Lindsay's beautiful African-based, female trio Cross Currents, an homage to the female archetype, while Tavaziva is bringing the controversial My Friend, Robert which expresses his mixed feelings about Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe whom he sees as a force for both good and evil.
City of Tribes runs at Harbourfront's Fleck Dance Theatre May 28 to 30.