THE eighth annual edition of Jibilika Dance Festival has been set for August 22 at the Amphitheatre in Bulawayo and this is the first time that the national finals will be held outside Harare.
Jibilika is Zimbabwe's premier annual youth dance festival which celebrates both urban and cultural dances and runs in competition format. It is run by the Jibilika Dance Trust. It was founded in 2007 and has remained an annual event.
"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," said the festival Projects Director, Plot Mhako.
Mhako said the festival aimed to promote dance as a vehicle for youth, talent development and a platform for recreation.
The festival will encompass mentorship on a wide range of youth-related issues, training and development workshops in various communities, exhibitions and performances.
"The move to Bulawayo has been necessitated by the need to grow the festival, give more dancers and audiences and opportunity to experience the festivities."
"It also plays tribute to Bulawayo dancers whose unwavering support and commitment to the festival has been unparalled and also their dominance of past titles with the groups such as Magesh having won 2007 and 2008 editions, Rolx, Antivirus and the current title holders Explosion all hailing from the City of Kings," said Mhako.
He said unlike in previous years when preliminaries had been held in seven or eight provinces, this, year all the country's 10 provinces will select a single group to represent at the nationals.
Mhako said actual dates and venues for preliminaries would be announced within three weeks. The preliminaries will run from May to July and the theme will be announced then. "The theme will embrace our rich cultural diversity, the youth energy and emphasize on high standards of choreography and professionalism as a way of making dance economically empowering," said Mhako.
A series of workshops will be conducted with the provincial qualifiers with assistance from professionals as a way of enhancing their skills and performances. Prizes for the winners will be announced after competition of the provincial finals. 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 which act as the selection or audition process are conducted. Finalists at each provincial final then qualify for the grand finale which is held between August and November.
"Several dancers and groups have been exposed, empowered economically and also awarded at various national awards platforms owing to Jibilika Dance Festival," said Mhako. "That was the goal of the festival, so we feel a sense of accomplishment though more still needs to be done.
Jibilika Festival is credited for exposing and promoting a lot of dancers and groups locally and beyond the borders and the organisers are excited to be bringing the finale to Bulawayo since most national events are only held in Harare.