Mzuri Dance director
About Suzanne ‘Mzuri’ Watts
Suzanne ‘Mzuri’ Watts is an award winning choreographer, musician and founding director of performing arts initiative, Mzuri Dance (1995). Following extensive classical ballet (RAD Elementary) and contemporary dance training at Rusden qualifying with Bachelor of Education in Dance & English, Suzanne’s international training in Tanzania at the College of Arts Bagamoyo, has developed her work as a teacher, musician, choreographer and performer at festivals throughout the world including Tanzania, South Africa, France, Botswana, Jamaica and Singapore.
Suzie co founded Afrovival with Mpaphi Nfandizo in 2012 after she was an Arts Grant recipient of the City of Melbourne for Afrovival and the Oil Can Project. This musical performance Afrovival still plays and was invited by the High Commission and Consulate of Botswana to perform in Canberra to celebrate 30 year of Botswana Independence.
Since 2016 Suzanne has been appointed a sessional lecturer in African Dance and the African Diaspora at Deakin University in the Arts and Education Faculty. Her recent work includes Mzuri Dance performance for the opening ( following Welcome to County) of the Premier Gala Dinner for National Diversity Week March 2017 held by the Multicultural Commission of Victoria. This was followed by Mzuri Dance performance at Fitzroy Town Hall for Refugee Week in June 2017 and Federation Square for the African Music and Cultural Festival ( AMCF) 2014, 2015, 2016.
Suzanne has been invited (and granted funding) to mentor the M.A.V. Cultural Ambassador for the City of Wyndham, Florence Shinanduku ( Dance artist and Refugee from Democratic Republic of Congo) for 10 weeks in Performance, teaching and African dance choreography in preparation for her work with the Snuff Puppets. She has also recently completed mentoring Ayel Akot whose family is from South Sudan ( 8 years of mentorship with Suzanne) Ayel went on to win Youth of the Year awards and Arts Awards at M.A.V. and at the City of Yarra.
Week by week, Suzanne Mzuri Watts works at Mzuri Dance training studio in Fitzroy with venue support from City of Yarra, for community arts projects, for student training and rehearsing for performances and commissions by African Communities Foundation Australia and Multicultural Arts Victoria.
Suzanne has developed her unique dance technique from 32 years of dance training and development. Her African dance training covers 25 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.
Her initial training began with Kathleen Gorham – National Theatre, Martin Rubenstein, Laurel Martin OBE and Sue Hayes –Utassy 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 French music award winner 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 and experience has extended to music, music composition and performance. 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 700 Events & Festivals including WOMADelaide 2001 with Soukous Ba congo. She has toured internationally with French music award winner So Kalmery, and has played and worked with Musiki Manjaro, Sambole African Dance Company, Kotoko Ma with Kojo Owusu from African Royal Drummers, Matata Sound, Randy
and the Jah Roots. Suzanne was awarded with King Bell 2003 Australian Live Music Award winners with the band King Bell & Soukous Ba Congo. She worked sessionally with King Marong & Chris lesser and as percussionist and backing vocalist for Ajak Kwai from South Sudan.
Suzanne has taught dance at the VCA Victorian College of Arts Drama School, Deakin University, 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 Women’s Day at Federation Square, 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 Programs 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.
Suzanne ‘Mzuri’ Watts is a choreographer and founding director of performing arts company, Mzuri.
Mzuri allows old and new arts from Africa and the West to develop fresh ideas and meaning that are inspirational to audiences and patrons.
Director of Taios Productions, Mpaphi Nfandizo from Botswana who 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 creates melodic rhythms with an illustrious collection of well loved African instruments representing five countries of Africa.
Pop up studio 2017-2018:
The Florence Peel Centre, Fitzroy
Corner of Moor and Young Street. Enter studio up ramp on Young Street next to the Fitzroy Police Station.
GO2/38 Yarra St
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