Connections

Cathy

Cathy Zimmerman, Ken Foster, Laura Faure, Joan Frosch, Philip Bither, Vivian Phillips, Shay Wafer and Marjorie Neset—The Africa Contemporary Dance Consortium (TACAC) U.S. representatives—all arts professionals in some fashion: administrators of centers and festivals—big and small, urban and almost rural; writers; curators; scholars.

Gregory and Phillip

The link that brings us all to a meeting in Johannesburg, Gauteng Province, South Africa is our common desire to understand, in deep and personal ways, what it is to make art in a place far from our familiar U.S. territory. And, as importantly, to develop authentic friendships with artists from this continent, that weave through our personal and professional lives in profound and joyful threads.

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Shay

Three of TACAC’s African affiliates join us for this meeting: Boyzie Cekwana, Gregory Maqoma and Nelisiwe Xaba, all South African artists of intelligence, originality and talent. Affiliates from Congo/DRC, Mozambique and Kenya were absent in person but offered thoughtful input via Cathy Zimmerman.

Laura

It is a long way here—14 to 30+ hours depending on your starting point. We arrive jet-lagged, immediately leaping  into the striking and stimulating new work we have come far to see. Which activates sufficient adrenaline to get us through those first hours and days!

In our informal but intense meetings we address issues both resolvable and not! It is truthful to say that our motives for being here are pure.

Joan

In other words it really is about friendship and deepening our understanding of each others’ cultures and work—no rewards of prestige or money accompany these relationships.

Vivian

Of course we hope that our coming together will result in increased exchanges of art and ideas between African artists and our U.S. communities and, ultimately, between artists from both continents traveling, making and sharing work and becoming friends and ambassadors in a rapidly expanding global community.

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Ken, just arrived.

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A little later.

But there is something more we talk about at our meetings and over subsequent coffees and lunches—what is it about these particular friendships that make them so important?

Definitely a deeply-held, but frequently unacknowledged, desire to cross cultural lines, proving to ourselves and others that we really do share a common humanity.

Certainly a level of admiration for African friends’ determination to make work that is artistically powerful and original—and that also addresses issues of personal, community and global concern.

Certainly a level of admiration for African friends’ determination to make work that is artistically powerful and original—and that also addresses issues of personal, community and global concern.

Always pursuing our curiosity about how environment manifests itself in artistic creation?

We all share fun and laughter, wine and food—and our friendships deepen—and we all renew our commitment to dance and global citizenship.

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Once in awhile we sleep.

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