In October 2021, 21-year-old Takudzwa Felo sat on the AfriKera stage with his classmates clad in black robs to receive their Diplomas after successfully completing the 3-year Professional Dance Training Program. Amidst the screams, cheers and applause, he pondered over what the future held for him.
The answer was not too far off. A research session with one of the AfriKera instructors a few weeks prior pointed him in a plausible direction.
“Towards the end of my time with AfriKera, we were encouraged to start actively researching international dance schools and dance companies. I came across an interesting school in Belgium called Performing Arts Research and Training Studios (P.A.R.T.S) then I started following them on Instagram. I watched videos of their works and noticed that they focus on contemporary dance a lot. Luckily, a few months after we graduated, an audition opportunity with the school arose.” Takudzwa explained
P.A.R.T.S had an open audition in Tunisia on the 13th of February 2022, and candidates were expected to fund their travels to and from the North African nation and cover their living expenses for the audition. Takudzwa was eyeing the audition but faced a temporary setback.
“I was supposed to go to Tunisia for the pre-selection and then the final audition was in Brussels from the 2nd to the 9th of April. I did not make it to the Tunisia audition because of lack of funding, and I asked them to reschedule and they said I still had an opportunity to take the same audition in Brussels.” he said
Takudzwa’s dad put together some funds for the Brussels trip while Takudzwa prepared for the upcoming audition back home in Zimbabwe.
“When I registered for the pre-selection, they asked me to create a one-minute solo consisting of just dance, no props, no music, and no explanation. I created my solo with- fellow AfriKera graduate- Rayne Chiramba who was my third eye. We worked for it for 2 months.” Takudzwa said
He flew to Belgium on the 30th of March and took a day to familiarise with the city and unwind before going full throttle with his audition proceedings.
“On the 1st of April, I rehearsed my solo once more and Googled where I was supposed to go for the audition. The pre-selection started on the morning of Saturday the second of April, there were 400 of us auditioning that day and they were only looking for 10. So, we were divided into groups A and B, I was in group B and we did ballet, contemporary dance and we were asked to showcase our 1-minute solo.” Takudzwa said
As his time approached, Takudzwa looked around and came face to face with dancers from different backgrounds with unique skill sets flexing their moves. Takudzwa was the only participant from Zimbabwe and Southern Africa at large. He felt a tinge of intimidation slowly crippling up his spine.
“People were showing off their moves and I told myself to ‘focus on what I came here for’.” He thought, “I cannot waste the money that was invested in this process and I surrendered everything to God.”
Takudzwa made the cut and was selected from a group of 400 hopefuls to the final 10 proceeding to the next round.
“30 people were selected from the first group and 30 in the second group as well. We were asked to showcase our personal work and at around 6pm, they said they would place the names of the selected people up a wall. I checked at 6:30pm and my name was up there, I was happy!” he exclaimed
The Final selection
After successfully completing stage 1 of the audition process, the participants were given a walkthrough of the final screening process:
- Read and memorise a piece of physical theatre text by the following Monday;
- Participate in regular classes including English, Contemporary Dance and Physical Theatre under the watch of a jury.
This process reduced the number further down to 185 which included an enthusiastic Takudwa who felt more confident as his dream moved closer in sight but there was one more crucial hurdle to cross.
“They gave us another task, to create a one-minute solo working with elements in the form of words. My words were texture, blue and nature. I had to create a piece under the guidance of a professional. I wrote something down, I structured it and I kept practicing.” said Takudzwa
The participants would know who made the cut a week later, at which point Takudzwa travelled back home to Zimbabwe, rehearsed and participated in a wedding performance and visited family and friends which helped calm his nerves and before he knew it, the week was up.
“On Friday, I received a message on Instagram from another participant Dylan from Australia and he said ‘hey Felo, did you receive your email?’ I hadn’t, my network was bad that day. Dylan said he did not make it and was placed on a waiting list, and another lady from Colombia said she did not make it. I was nervous because a lot of the people I had spoken to where either on the waiting list or had not made it. I spoke to my friend who encouraged me and at around 7pm, I refreshed my email and saw ‘Congratulations! you have made it! I was so excited!” he said
An ecstatic Takudzwa immediately phoned three people who were instrumental in the entire process.
“I called my dad right away and told him I made it, I sent a message to Harold (of Dunia Dance Theatre, whom he stayed with in Belgium), and Soukaina (AfriKera Arts Trust founder and director)” he said
Takudzwa credits his experience and knowledge gained from AfriKera for his success in the audition process and preparing him for this next chapter in his life.
“The time at AfriKera helped me a lot! If I had not completed the program with AfriKera, I would not have made it. Some people were saying they had never done ballet and contemporary, so I was at an advantage.” He explained.
Takudzwa recently travelled to Belgium to pursue his 3-year Diploma in performing arts at P.A.R.T.S which will run from September 2022 to September 2024 taking classes including Ballet, Contemporary dance, Anatomy, English, and Dance Repertoire.
We wish him all the best!