Jibilika Dance Festival preliminaries beckons

By Kundai Marunya

Provincial preliminaries for Zimbabwe’s premier annual youth dance festival, Jibilika, will kick off this Saturday May 16 at the Charles Austin Theatre in Masvingo

The festival which usually draws a great number of contestants battling it off in the preliminaries to book a place in the nationals is this year expecting an increased number of contestants.

Speaking to Spiked Lifestyle, Jibilika Director, Plot Mhako said he is looking forward to a great festival.

“We are going to kick off our provincial contests in Masvingo. Harare will be next on May 23, then Gweru on May 30, Mutare June 6, and Bulawayo on June 13,” he said.

Now in its eighth year, will for the first time hold its finals outside Harare.

Mhako said, “This year’s grand finale is set for Bulawayo Amphitheatre on 22 August marking the first time that the national finals are to be held outside the capital.”

Other changes will be the representation of all provinces of Zimbabwe.

“Unlike in previous years when preliminaries have been held in seven to eight provinces, this year all the country’s 10 provinces will select a single group to represent at the nationals.

”Actual dates and venues for preliminaries will be announced within the next three weeks,” said Mhako.

All preliminaries will run from May to July.

Running under the theme Freestyle, the festival will allow young people to freely express themselves through dance, celebrating uniqueness whilst embracing our cultural diversity and will display high standards of choreography and professionalism as a way of making dance entertaining, engaging and economically empowering.

Jibilika Dance Festival is a youth urban cultural platform seeking to herald Zimbabwe’s hidden artistic talent and use the energy to address the ‘ill-elements bedeviling the youths’.

The festival aims to promote dance as a vehicle for youth, talent development and a platform for recreation.

“The festival’s carnival will encompass mentorship on a wide range of youth related issues, training and development workshops in various communities, exhibitions and performances,” said Mhako

Jibilika Festival is credited for exposing and promoting a lot of dancers and groups locally and beyond the borders.

The concept of the festival is to give every dancer an opportunity to showcase and compete for excellency.

Each year the festival assumes a new theme which guides the content and outcome.

Before the national finals a series of provincial preliminaries are conducted which act as the selection or audition process for the final showdown.

Mhako said the biggest achievement of the festival has been resilience and consistency.

“We have weathered the storm over the 7 years of existence. The dancers have kept dancing and the fans remained steadfast on their support.

“Out of the festival several other successful stand-alone projects have been birthed among them Step Up 2 HIV, High Schools Dance Festival,” he added.

“Several dancers and groups have been exposed, empowered economically and also awarded at various national awards platforms owing to Jibilika Dance Festival.

“That was the goal of the festival, so we feel a sense of accomplishment though more still to be done.”