Who is … Hakim Zziwa?

Over four thousand applications reach the organizers of the danceWEB scholarship programme, which is in line with Viennas famous Impuls Festival, every year. A small number of around fifty people get in. Hakim Zziwa was among these few privileged ones this year, being the only participant from Uganda and even one out of only three from the continent of Africa as a whole.

In collaboration with the Goethe-Institut South Africa, the Goethe-Zentrum Kampala supported him, making his visit to Vienna possible. Now Hakim is back in Uganda, his suitcase packed with interesting impressions that will, as he says, affect his way of dancing and teaching dance in the future.

Twenty seven year old Hakim discovered his passion for dance already in primary school. Back in those days, he says, he started off like every other child – inspired by Michael Jackson, playfully discovering dance moves. But it became more than that. Soon he was teaming up with his friends and together they formed a secondary school dance crew, that started putting up breakdance performances. In their strict muslim school, which didn’t emphasise arts but academic achievements, they were pioneers in what they did – suspiciously eyed on by teachers.

Instead of receiving admiration, artists – in those days – were confronted with misunderstanding from all sides. „Everything that’s not a formal white-collar-job is not well-received by parents and elders“, Hakim says. An artistic development was not exactly a guarantee for sustaining a family. So, Hakim kept his activity secret to his dad, who would not have approved of whatever could distract his son from academia.

Hakim did his Bachelor in International Business, but never stopped dancing besides his studies. He was there in the early hours of the Breakdance Project Uganda as a founding member and collected experiences in urban and contemporary dance. When he was finished with his studies, he had to face what seemed to be a decision between making money or following his passion. But when he looked at his role-modeling function at the Breakdance Project Uganda and the possible change to a time-consuming career in the business world, he decided he would have to find a pathway to connect both.
Impressions from the ImPulstanz Festival 2011
He founded – together with his long time friend Abdul – a dance company: Tabu-Flo. The idea behind this was to be able to use ones skills to create emloyment. They knew they’d have to go beyond breakdance to target the market and to open themselves also to a commercial perspective, but Hakim assures that he never „sold his soul“. On the contrary to the entertainment sector, which according to Hakim is spoiled by people lining up to anything in their hope to make it with their dream, their local partners and the corporate companies seem to respect dancers a lot more, as they see their hard work, discipline and good results when they co-operate with them.

Hakim and the members of Tabu-Flo always reach out for more than just dance, they set themselves the goal to always be open-minded and to develop themselves. So they have always been applying for different overseas programmes, exchanges and workshops – as well as the danceWEB Europe Scholarship Programme.

The danceWEB is a five week summer workshop in line with the impulse festival in Vienna. Around fifty young people – dancers and choreographers – from Europe and all around the globe are offered the chance to participate in the programme that is built on the idea of creating an international exchange between creative minds and weave them together in an intense training programme.

So no matter who would get in, Hakim and his friends knew that they wouldn’t just go for themselves but would use the experience for the bigger picture. After having been part of the danceWEB, Hakim is sure to have gained new experiences which he can apply to build a foundation for all to benefit, that is, Tabu-Flo as well as the Breakdance Project Uganda.

Hakim visited workshops and touched different dance styles: contemporary dance , HipHop, as well as special breakdance techniques. He also joined a girls dance workshop, because he wanted to pick up new moves to reach the female Ugandan dancers as well. Apart from new dance techniques, he is convinced to have learned a lot about teaching dance, too.

The whole idea of the danceWEB – bringing the creativity and potential of many young people together – was also inspiring, Hakim says. The vibrant atmosphere, the sharing of ideas, the cultural differences, as well as similarities add up to an intense experience, that he cherishes and recommends anybody to go for.

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