Mzuri Dance acknowledges the Wurundjeri as the Traditional Owners of this country, pays tribute to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Melbourne, and gives respect to the Elders past and present and emerging.
ABOUT SUZIE MZURI
A teacher, musician, choreographer and performer
Suzie ‘Mzuri’ Watts
Suzanne ‘Mzuri’ Watts is a choreographer and founding director of performing arts company, Mzuri. Following extensive classical ballet (RAD Elementary) and contemporary dance training at Rusden qualifying with Bachelor of Education in Dance & English, Suzanne’s international training has developed her work as a teacher, musician, choreographer and performer at festivals throughout the world including Tanzania, South Africa, France, Jamaica and Singapore.
B Ed Dance, English ESL, RAD Classical Ballet Elementary, Certificate IV Small Business Management
“Connecting with each other through music and dance is my passion. It has always been the way I feel I can meet another person and have a shared understanding, an experience together that feels infinte. A place where you don’t need words or definitions. Something you can’t hear, see, touch, smell, or even really talk about. I have found that in particular when I connect with a special dance that has meaning to someone…and when I am learning this dance from the person who is sharing this special dance with me and we are decoding and energetically syncing, something magical happens.”
Suzie has developed a dance technique which she calls Mzuri Dance. Mzuri means ‘good’ in Ki Swahili. Suzie was given the name Mzuri by her BRAKKA teacher So Kalmery who she trained with in France in the 1990’s. Her Mzuri dance teaching method culminates from 32 years of professional dance training, practice and development. Her African dance training covers 20 years of international and national study including Brakka, Soukous (Congolese popular), Kwaito (South African Hip Hop), Gumboot & Kwella ( South African) Traditional Tanzanian, contemporary movement, which follows extensive classical training, character ballet and contemporary dance training.
Suzie was recently joined by Yeni Kuti, the eldest daughter of Nigerian Afrobeat Icon Fela Kuti in Melbourne when she was on tour with DJ Stani Goma from 106.7 PBSfm.
Yeni has choreographed a dance to her brothers music Femi Kuti and she has invited Suzie to practice the dance in Mebourne with her students to continue the training of Afrobeat. ( Not to be confused with Afrobeats). Suzie has also recently been invited to tour with Kanda Bongo Man and King Bell and has commenced rehearsal with Kanda Bongo Man dancer in South Africa.
Her initial training began with Kathleen Gorham – National Theatre, Martin Rubenstein, Laurel Martin OBE and Sue Hayes -Utassy memorial Ballet School before commencing her study at Rusden in Melbourne. Followed by attendance at the Bagamoyo College of Arts Tanzania and study of African dance in France, South Africa, London, Jamaica and contemporary & hip-hop dance in New York.
Suzanne studied the Brakka style of dance with So Kalmery, and contemporary African dance with George Momboye, Lolita & Irene Tassembado School of Dance in 92, 94 & 98 Paris. Suzanne has attended classes at The Alvin Ailey Dance School & Eric Hawkins Dance School New York 92, masterclasses with Vusa Dance Company and Grahamstown Festival performers, South Africa and Bangarra Dance Theatre, Victoria.
As well as dance training, Suzanne’s study has extended to music. In Tanzania in 1994 she studied the Ilimba (thumb piano) with the world renowned Dr Hukwe Zawose and traditional African drums at the Bagamoyo College of Arts. She also trained on the drums with Mr Thomas Khoza in South Africa and with leading dance companies in South Africa such as Vusa dance company and Gumboot dance training at the Grahamstown music festival. Her music skills see her play drum kit, guitar for songwriting, bass, Ilimba & belafon.
Suzanne has performed as a dancer, percussionist and vocalist at more than 650 Events & Festivals including WOMADelaide with Soukous Ba congo. She has toured internationally with French music award winner So Kalmery, and Musiki Manjaro. IN Melbourne her early journey started with Sambole African Dance Company, Kotoko Ma with Kojo Owusu from African Royal Drummers, Matata Sound & Randy and the Jah Roots. HIghlights include supporting Lucky Dube and Burning Spear. Suzanne shared the Australian Live Music Award as choreographer, dancer, vocalist and percussionist in King Bell & Soukous Ba Congo, playing with the band since 2000, she has worked sessionally with King Marong & Chris lesser and percussionist and backing vocalist for Ajak Kwai. Her Mzuri dance students also started performing with her and they formed a Wazuri girl band that played such venues as the Espy, Bennets Lane, Chapel off Chapel, East coast tours and supported Bob Sedergreen.
Suzanne has lectured at Deakin University as a sessional lecturer in the Arts and Ed faculty, choreographed works at the VCA Victorian College of Arts Drama School, tutored at Melbourne University, the CAE, GPAC Geelong Performing Arts Centre, Collingwood Education Centre, Utassy Memorial Ballet School; Tintern Girls Grammar, Camberwell Boys Grammar, Canterbury Girls Secondary College, Wesley, King David, GATEWays and was the Bendigo Dance Director for the Department of Education and Training’s Joining The Chorus State dancers.
Suzanne has choreographed works commissioned by Premier and Cabinet for International Womens Day at Federation Square, Multicultural Arts Victoria for the Premeier Gala for Diversity Week, Summer Fun in the City Queensbridge Square, Opening Ceremony Commonwealth Games City of Whitehorse, South African musician Jo Malatji at the MCG and Hamer Hall, the VCA Drama School for the production The Rover, Joining the Chorus at Rod Laver Arena, the Arts Centre Education Porgrams at Hamer Hall, Australian Day at Fed Square, Arts Centre Beach stage C/W Games Arts Festival, and directed 15 school musical productions staged at Karralika Theatre, National Theatre, etc.
Mzuri Dance honours the roots of Contemporary and Popular dance styles that derive from indigenous African cultures throughout the world. Mzuri allows old and new arts from Africa and the West to develop and regain new identity and sacredness with attention to ancient meanings aknowledged and if it happens, reimagined.
Director of Taios Productions, Mpaphi Nfandizo from Botswana plays a vital role in music, video and media production at Mzuri Dance. Mpaphi is a songwriter and mutli instrumentalist who also plays Ikalanga folklore from the Afri’can’a 4 string guitar made out of an oil can and newly devised songs drawing from the Kalahari desert.
Afrovival and the Oil Can Project was born out of a Mzuri Dance City of Melbourne Arts Grant in 2011. Afrovival creates melodic rhythms with an illustrious collection of well loved African instruments representing five regions of Africa.
Afrovival is now playing as an interactive dance band available for wedding parties and special events.
Suzanne ‘Mzuri’ Watts is a choreographer, musician and founding director of performing arts company, Mzuri Dance.
Suzie believes people can learn so much from the music and dance of Africa, the cultures’ hold so much information, knowledge and wisdom in the oral history and so Suzie continues her learning journey with the continent of Africa.
The Florence Peel Centre, Fitzroy
Corner of Moor and Young Street. Enter studio up ramp on Young Street next to the Fitzroy Police Station.
Plus Spring courses:
Dorm 1 Abbotsford Convent
1 Heliers Place Abbotsford
83 Bent Street
GET IN TOUCH
START DANCING TODAY!