The Story of Afro Swing in Mozambique

By Puxtana Manhiça
Associacao Hodi
Email: associacaohodi.cult@gmail.com

It was in 2011, the year in which we met Lisa Josefsson. In a visit to the group she said she had something to share with us. We were very far from thinking that that sentence would be the beginning of a long journey and it would be an open door to join in the most cheerful and widespread Swing Dance communities.

We all watched. She started dancing and the choreography was Big Apple. Imagine seeing a foreigner having fun in a strange dance for us: it was the first time we saw someone dancing swing! She danced, we all applauded. It was really something beautiful and contagious. It didn’t take long until we agreed so she could come more often to teach us.

The following year we received a visit from her parents and we decided to receive them with some dance number. It was the Big Apple and Shim Sham with improvised drums. Lisa’s father made a video of it:
Big Apple and Shim Sham

Days later the video appeared on YouTube, and it was immediately the beginning.
In the same year,2012, we received a scholarship from the Frankie Manning Foundation for one of our artists to participate in the world’s largest Swing dance camp, Herräng Dance Camp. Fernando Valoi was the nominated artist. Herräng Dance Camp works in the areas of training artists in the field of Swing dance technique and still with regard to the history of dance, through intensive courses with qualified teachers from the 4 corners of the world. In the year 2013 through the American Cultural Center in Maputo we got support from the U.S. Embassy to perform the first project connected to Swing dance. The project, called Maputo Afro Swing, had as its main objective the promotion of Swing dance through the realization of cultural events open to the public in about 4 neighborhoods.

The project lasted 6 months. After the end of the project the American Cultural Center decided to give us space to hold classes open to the public, thus contributing to the popularity of this style of dance in Mozambique. Still under the project Maputo Afro Swing, the group shifted to Europe. For the first time we participated in the Herräng Swing Dance Camp. It was through this that the group really saw the importance of the practice of this genre of dance. It was in the same year that we had the privilege of meeting Norma Miller, Chazz Young, Chester A.Whitmore, Judy Pritchett, Angela Andrew and others.

In 2013, through contact with important figures and dancers from all corners of the world, we learned that Swing is not only a dance genre but an effective way to unite people and thus contribute to the promotion of peace in the world through the arts. In 2014 we had the honor of receiving an invitation to attend the 100th anniversary celebrations of Frankie Manning, who is considered the Lindy Hop Ambassador. More than 40 countries attended this event and we not only represent Mozambique but the African continent in general .

Also in the same year we made the Roots project, taking to Maputo one of the acclaimed Swing groups, the Harlem Hot Shots from Stockholm, Sweden for a cultural exchange between Mozambique and Sweden. We had the support of the Franco – Mozambican Cultural Center that hosted the main show of the exchange. After the event we founded the MASX (Mozambique Afro Swing Exchange) to continue the project of cultural exchange between Mozambique and several countries where Swing is danced. That was where in the year 2016 we invited 17 international participants to the first edition of MASX. Edition 1 of the MASX opened up the doors for a long adventure in the world of dance, followed the second, third editions and recently in March of the current year, 2019, we held the fourth edition with participation of about 56 international participants and more than 60 Mozambican national artists. MASX includes conversation workshops, lectures, dance and music shows and various other artistic and cultural activities which enable artists from all over the world to get to know each other and their work.

In the year 2018 we had our first world tour, which was called Hikone “Existimos”. We aimed to show the world that despite the innumerable difficulties that the country is in we can still smile and believe that we are a culturally rich people and that we have a lot of good things to show to the world. Hodi is recognized in the world of Swing dance as one of the groups that has worked hard for the popularization of Swing dance practice in Africa and Mozambique in particular and it is in this scope that we have been given the opportunity each year to participate in Herrang Dance Camp and in others international festivals of Swing. Currently in Maputo Swing Dance classes are monitored by Alexandre Alberto Soquisso, senior member of Hodi who has also organized social dance sessions in partnership with the Fernando Leite Couto Foundation. The senior company of Hodi led by Eugenio Junior Joaquim, Augusto Manhiça and Vasco André Wate has been the source of inspiration for these groups. At the international level we have collaborated with Ugandan dancers Okurut George and Atite Prisca, both Ambassadors of the Frankie Manning Foundation, in the 2018 and 2019 editions of the MASX. Together we are working on a project that aims to found the Uganda Swing Dance Community.

I want to finish by thanking Lisa Josefsson for bringing us this beautiful dance, Angela Andrew, Mickey Davidson for the lessons, the Frankie Manning Foundation for support in our activities, Katharina Duarte, Mikaela Hellsten, Andreas Maier, Gregory Bruyer, Zelino Modesto Rocha, Jill De Muelenaere, Alex, David Abilio, Rui Manuel Tadeu Fernandes, Iréne Josefsson, Gustaf Josefsson, Tadaa, Hans Josefsson, Jose Manhica, Sérgio poeta Sérgio Raimundo – Military among, Quito Tembe, Idio Chichava, Horacio Macuacua, Spela Sedej. We are also grateful to our partners, namely the Culture and Tourism Department of Maputo City, Art No Parke, @Fatimas Back Pakers, Polana Caniço “B” Primary School, HipolitoSimao, Frankie Manning Foundation and others.

Let’s swing Africa!
Let’s swing Mozambique!
Let’s swing Maputo!
Let’s swing Polana Reed!
Let’s swing Hodi!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *