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  • Writer's pictureNatasha Sackey

Let's Discuss Trauma and Izindava

Updated: Mar 22, 2019

Tavaziva is an African Contemporary dance company, led by Zimbabwean born Choreographer Barwren Tavaziva, whos recent work communicated such an intense yet profoundly conscious message about trauma. ,

Izindava is an invoking piece that explores politics, trauma and a sense of injustice that not only relates to postcolonial Zimbabwe but poignantly speaks towards the present unsettled feeling of race and culture in today’s society. In what was clearly a very personal piece, Tavaziva powerfully translates the emotional experience of inner conflict, which is central to these themes into creative expression. It can only be described as Bawren's work is giving voice to an oppressive internal experience of fear and trauma.

As a dance movement psychotherapist, my understanding of both trauma and fear is it’s experienced at the level of the body. Often the experience of trauma is difficult to put into words. Along with the consensus of neuroscience research, as quoted by Judith Rustin (2013) ‘emotions and feelings are not only “felt experiences” but bodily based experiences that exist prior to any conscious awareness of them’. Trauma/fear can be hard to put into words because it disrupts memory, and as we do our best to survive our experiences, it is often silenced within us.

Eugene Ellis, Integrative Arts psychotherapist and Director Ellis of the Black and Asian Therapist network (BAATN), explained how race-related trauma situations can consciously and unconsciously hijack our ability to find our voice. It can paralyse our ability to think, and feel our emotions, and hinder the development of mindful awareness and compassion.

The beauty of Bawren’s

Izindava is in witnessing how he utilises dance to express himself and recreate from his lived experience. I sense this is healing work for him. By using his movement as language, he has communicated what he says “can no longer be silent”. Through

Izindava, which translates as ‘news’ in the Zimbabwean language Ndebele, Bawren shares his experience and wisdom gained from the past to send a message of compassion to the present.

Aesthetically, I found the earthy qualities of the dance compelling to watch. It’s quite profound to see the physical and emotional strength as well as individuality displayed through the dancers. It speaks to overcoming adversity, finding resilience and our ability to adapt creatively to what our lives require in our own way.

In movement terms, there is something Bawren has perfectly married that defies usual dance and movement repertoire for me. The use of levity in the body that comes with ballet and the grounded sense of gravity in African dance is entirely in balance and harmony within Bawren’s choreographic synthesis. Effortless in force is the only way I can describe it.

Izindava highlights the redemptive power of dance, not only for the choreographer and dancer but in the way it speaks to us as an audience. This performance is an experience. It’s emotional. It’s soul soothing.

I look forward to exploring this in our exclusive screening and open discussion with Barwen and a panel of choreographers on the 4th of May 2019 5pm at Fresh Ground.

This free event is in association with Dance of the African Diaspora (DAD) and One Dance UK. Supported by Wandsworth Arts Fringe through Wandsworth Grant Fund.


Rustin, J (2003), Infant Research & Neuroscience at work in Psychotherapy. 1st ed. W.W.Norton & Company, Inc. pp 13-14




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