Fana Tshabalala

2017/2018 Guest Choreographer


Fana Tshabalala, a former Associate Artistic Director of the Forgotten Angel Theatre Collaborative, currently serves as an Artistic Director of the newly founded organization, Broken Borders Arts Project. He is also the 2013 recipient of the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for dance. Tshabalala started his career by being involved in a number of community groups such as Vuku Zenzele Cultural Group, Sonqoba Cultural Group, Pheelo Dance Company and Vuka African Artists.

He was accepted into the MIDM FETC student program in Performing Arts. As part of his studies, he choreographed a solo entitled, As it is two in one, which he performed as a part of the FNB Dance Umbrella’s Stepping Stones in 2007. The following year he presented his solo entitled Ukunxanwa at the FND Dance Umbrella.

In 2009 and 2010 he worked with European choreographer Michel Kelemenis for six months. He studied and performed the role of Anatom in Kelemenis’s L’Amoureuese de Monsieur Muscle, which toured France. Tshabalala also worked with Kelemenis to create his solo, That Side, which he performed alongside his work Lost and Found in Avignon.

In 2011, he choreographed a work entitled, Fractured, for the Moving Into Dance Mophatong professional company. The work was performed as a part of the Main Program of the Dance Umbrella.

Tshabalala has created numerous new works while in residence at Klap in Marseilles, such as Gates of Hell and his recent solo, MAN, which have all enjoyed performances on various international platforms.

In addition, Tshabalala choreographed Between Us in 2012, which has toured extensively, as well as his Standard Bank Young Artist Commission, INDUMBA in 2013, which has also appeared on numerous platforms on the continent.

Tshabalala has also worked on a documentary commissioned by Etv, which explores the stereotype of a modern man in society.
In 2015 Tshabalala launched into an African tour of 12 countries with his work, Between Us, which he performed alongside fellow Forgotten Angel Theater Collaborative performer, Thulani Chauke.

About Indumba

South African choreographer Fana Tshabalala completes a three week residency with Deeply Rooted Dance Theater (DRDT) in July 2017 to create an American-focused adaptation of his work INDUMBA. Created to illuminate the perpetual impact of apartheid politics in his native South Africa, Tshabalala is adapting the work for an American audience. “Indumba” means African healing hut, promising a work of stirring resilience and reconciliation. Deeply Rooted premieres the new incarnation of INDUMBA at its 20th Anniversary Finale performances, “Deeply Free,” December 8–10 at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago in Hyde Park.


Artistic Statment

Fana Tshabalala Narrative:  As an artist, I am fascinated by how social politics affect human interaction and spirituality, and “Indumba” was inspired by my research about the efforts by Mozambique and South Africa to end racial conflict in their countries.  In Mozambique, I learned about traditional cleansing ceremonies (“Indumba”) performed on veterans of its long, gruesome civil war.  The ceremonies helped the veterans heal spiritually, enabling them to move beyond the terror of war and re-enter the community. By contrast, in South Africa, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission focused only on tangible resolutions to racial conflicts during apartheid.  I found there to be more racial harmony in Mozambique and believe that the lack of spiritual cleansing in South Africa after apartheid is one cause of continued racial tension.  

I created INDUMBA to provide individuals and communities with opportunities for this important spiritual cleansing through dance.  Performers bring audiences with them into the “Indumba,” a space created to purify the mind and body, where they can work through conflicts honestly and without judgment.

There is a natural connection with DRDT because of common African roots and racial history, as well as shared interest in creating work that stimulates growth in artists and audiences.  Differences in culture and experience will make the INDUMBA vision richer and produce a new, more global work that can reach even broader audiences with the experiences performers share. I hope to strengthen our relationship with DRDT, laying the foundation for future collaborations involving even more artists.