Story of Tumbuka

  • 1958

    The Dance Trust of Zimbabwe grew out of the National Ballet of Zimbabwe which was founded in 1958

  • 1980

    1980 timeline Dancing in studioZIMThe dance studios, now home to the DTZ, were built in 1980 and provide a central location for Harare's dance activities from ballet exams, full time dance training, to rehearsals and the production of performances.

  • 1982

    1982 timeline Children learningIn 1982, chairwoman Alyson Vigoritti introduced a program entitled VanaVanotamba in order to reach under privileged children. With support from the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture, children were bussed into the studio from Mabvuku and Tafara for classes in ballet and modern dance. Over the next seven years the program grew into what became the first Dance Foundation Course, a full time professional training course aimed at high school graduates.

  • 1991

    1991 timeline Group trainingThe first course culminated in 1991 with a visit by British choreographer and then Director of Phoenix Dance Company, Neville Campbell, sponsored by the British Council.Inspired by the dancers he met, Campbell decided to leave Phoenix and take up the challenge of shaping a new modern dance Company with the help of company manager Sue Powell.

  • 1992

    tumbuka contempory dance company of zimbabweTumbuka was launched in September 1992 and by March of the following year they gave their first public performance at Johannesburg’s Dance Umbrella Festival. They danced their way to the Umbrella’s first standing ovation in its five-year history and were subsequently presented with awards for best choreographer and most promising male dancer.

  • 1994

    Campbell was a prolific choreographer with an innate understanding of a dancers body that enabled him to get the best out of each individual dancer as well as understand their Zimbabwean movement vocabulary. In 1994, Campbell created And Rwanda, fusing traditional Zimbabwean dance with his contemporary style, initiating the exploration into a contemporary Zimbabwean expression that still forms the basis of Tumbuka’s movement signature. And Rwanda is a grueling piece about global atrocities, which became a rite of passage for generations of Tumbuka dancers.

  • 1995

     In 1995 it came second place in the Pan African Choreographic Competition held in Angola.

  • 1999

    In 1999, Neville Campbell returned to the UK leaving the company under the directorship of Dawn Saunders for the next two years. Dawn had been a consistent presence in Tumbuka since its inception, providing ballet training, rehearsal direction and support with production and making a huge contribution to the growth and stability of the company.
  • 2002-2003

    From 2002 to 2003 the company worked under the direction of Rena Steiner, a former Dance Theatre of Harlem dancer who had performed with Tumbuka for a couple of years. Rena saw herself as facilitator, providing structure and support for the creative voices within the company, allowing choreographers like Gilbert Douglas to come into their own.
  • 2004-2011

    Tumbuka’s style was further developed by Gilbert Douglas who directed the company from 2004 -2011. Douglas was a founding member of Tumbuka who began choreographing for the company in 1999. In 2001 Douglas was invited to attend the Professional Choreographic Workshop for Traditional and Contemporary African Dance in Toubab Dialaw (Senegal) at the Ecole des Sables. Curated by one of the pioneers of contemporary African dance, Germaine Acogny, this experience enhanced his understanding of a contemporary African vocabulary and technique, which he has passed on to the subsequent generations of Tumbuka dancers and choreographers.

  • 2014

    2014Over the last 22 years, Tumbuka Dance Company has toured extensively throughout both the African and European Festival Circuits, to wide and popular acclaim including: Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, Malawi, Angola, Ivory Coast, Reunion Island, France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Slovakia, UK, Denmark and also to Belize.


  • All

The Company

In Creation