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VIMM World Tour Recap 10: ZIMBABWE

HARARE, ZIMBABWE  – April 23rd to May 11th, 2015

With some sweet boys at the Balancing Rock Park in Harare

With some sweet boys at the Balancing Rock Park in Harare

My experiences in Zimbabwe have opened something very deep within me. If I were to sum up the trip in just two words, I would say:

Deeply Connective.

The level of warmth with which I was greeted on a daily basis, the beautiful people with whom I became close, the strength of spirit I felt from the many, many people who are struggling to get by in the country’s current economic state, the powerful artistic collaborations and connections cultivated and offered, unexpected romance, and so much more.

With Mokoomba at HIFA 2015

With Mokoomba at HIFA 2015

Visiting Victoria Falls

Visiting Victoria Falls

I’ll start with the romance. These particular experiences on my travels have been so fascinating to ponder. The thing is, I have never been one to seek out romantic connection. Though I do desire it, I don’t approach it from a place of lack or a feeling of “have to have.” As far as I’m concerned, Love is something I come to know as being more expansive than trying to find it in another person. I believe Love cannot be found or taken. So when romantic connections do appear feeling rich, authentic, and natural, I am always intrigued to explore.

This happened in Harare. How special it was! In retrospect, I have thought, “Isn’t it a beautiful thing to know that I can travel almost 10,000 miles from home and still stumble upon someone with whom I feel an instant connection and immediate comfort?” It almost brought me to tears while I was there. And, while the specific connection was something I really cherished, to me the lesson became an even stronger reminder of the expansive Love – capital “L” – that exists. It’s not about any one person. Even if we choose to share our entire life with someone or agree to commit to a lifelong partnership/marriage, these are a couple manifestations of Connection along the brilliant spectrum of what Love Is. And hopefully that keeps us present with our “loved ones” and mindful with our Self.

Now let’s talk artistic Connection.

The largest Baobab Tree in Zimbabwe

The largest Baobab Tree in Zimbabwe

Prior to my trip, I didn’t have any friends or connections in Africa. So, in the 2 months between the end of my long tour and this trip to Zimbabwe, I was first in search of an artist or organization with whom I could connect in Africa. A friend in Seattle recommended Zimbabwe because the music and dance culture is so strong there, so that’s where I started searching.

Googling all sorts of keywords, “Music Zimbabwe,” “Tap Dance Zimbabwe,” helped me discover an amazing world music festival called the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA), now in its 16th year. When I found the website, I noticed they had an open artist submission process for their lineup – but the deadline had already passed.

Even so, I said, “Oh well! I’m going to message them anyway.” In my email, I explained that I had traveled the globe filming for my video project and was hoping to connect with someone in Africa to be able to film there and finalize the global representation. And, I added, if they had space in their festival lineup I would absolutely love to be considered for any collaborative music performances.

With my percussive partner-in-crime, Ramin

With my percussive partner-in-crime, Ramin

About two weeks later, I received interest from them. We talked back and forth and they ended up slotting me into a featured spot in the festival’s opening show with the superb Zimbabwean band named Mokoomba, as well as two 30-minute duo performances with a cajon player, Ramin, from Iran. I also taught two tap dance workshops, for which one of them doubled as a Music of Humankind video shoot.

Ramin and I had such a great time collaborating that he invited me to come stay at an exquisite Lodge he and his wife recently opened in Harare for my final week following the festival (called Sandalwood Lodge – I highly recommend!). While there, we did one more private performance together for an intimate crowd of guests. He and his wife Farah were so warm to me. They showed me around Harare and helped me with whatever I needed. I really felt like I was part of their family.

Wow, there are so many more stories swimming around in my mind and heart, but I will leave it at that for now.

Dancers at the Music of Humankind shoot

Dancers at the Music of Humankind shoot

And with that, my filming is complete. For the first video, at least. :)

A moment in Harare.

A moment in Harare.

Now it is time, back home, to dive into the editing process for this global music video. As I wade through hours of footage, I’m sure a tear or two will come to my eyes as I fondly remember such a profound tour experience rich with beautiful people and places who have inspired much growth and opening within me.

Stay Tuned about Music of Humankind’s progress on Facebook by clicking “LIKE” on it’s public page here.

Thanks for reading!

Peace,

JS

 

 

 

 

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