- Mozambique dancer heads home to share his passion
By Neil Armstrong
Dancer Pulga Mu-chochoma, 25, of Mozambique is looking forward to visit his homeland later this month to share his dance skills with dancers between the ages of 18 and 35. But, he is also excited about seeing his father, Cesar Muchochoma, a few days after Father’s Day. He leaves Toronto on June 17 after a performance in Ottawa and will finally see his father four days after being home.
The last time he saw his father and other family members was in July 2010 when he visited to participate in a project of Shakespeare Link Canada and the Mozambique-based Montes Namuli Theatre Company where he was once a dancer.
He will be teaching modern dance and will be choreographing a theatrical piece. This will be the fourth time that Muchochoma has visited Mozambique since migrating to Canada.
Sponsored by Kennedy Cathy MacKinnon, artistic director of Shakespeare Link, Muchochoma came to Canada in 2006 and was enrolled in the Toronto Dance Theatre School where he graduated and now dances with the Toronto Dance Theatre Company.
He says his professional dancing has made him a more open person and he has grown to know himself much better. Coming from a Portuguese-speaking country, Muchochoma did not speak any English but determined to communicate with his colleagues he learnt English.
“My goal was not to hang out with Portuguese-speaking people because I felt that was not the best way for me to learn English. I wanted to be in a crowd of people speaking a language that I don’t know so I can keep asking myself ‘what’s this, what’s that.’
Many people from the Toronto School of Dance Theatre really helped me out with speaking,” he said. He also attended an English as a Second Language (ESL) course for one year, read books and watched movies with English subtitles.
He also helped his sponsor in the kitchen where she taught him the English words for whatever was being used to cook a meal. He is still learning as he is not confident that he knows the language well enough.
Muchochoma says whenever he goes to Mozambique to teach dancers he reconnects with colleagues, some of whom were just as good as he or much better dancers.
He says working with the company feels good because the dancers don’t have as much training and his responsibility is to do his best to bring them to a place where they feel like they can be striving for more and more.
He considers it an exchange of technique - “Things that they will know will make me look for something to do for them.” He will also learn more African dance from them, something that they do all the time.
Shakespeare Link ‘s co-creation with Montes Namuli — The Africa Project, Dance with Us - Not with AIDS — helps to promote HIV/AIDS awareness and education and gender equality.
For a long time the Nontes Namuli Company has been very active in transforming dance into theatre and is interested in how people learn and communicate with a view to teaching them something.
Shakespeare Link Theatre brought “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to Mozambique. that was choreographed and changed from Shakespearian to a more cultural, African story about things such as child abuse, HIV/AIDS and women abuse.
Muchochoma says education and HIV/AIDS is an important area of the company’s work. He has seen moments during the play when the audience gets quiet in order to grasp the serious issues being explored.
He hopes that after seeing the play they will go out and spread the word to others. This is the first time that he will not be staying with family. Instead, he’ll be with the Shakespeare Link company as an interpreter since his first language is Portuguese.
However where he will be staying is 15-minute walk to his hometown and en route to the theatre. looking forward He is looking forward to meeting up with old friends for soccer, parties and reasoning with them outside his brother’s store.
He will also be teaching some of the children a few English words. This is the first time that he will visit and his older brother, who died in 2011, will not be there to meet him at the airport so he’ll be dealing with that emotional reality.
As a dancer, he has won over the support of his family who were initially apprehensive of his career choice. As a professional dancer he helps his family financially and is in the process of building a house for his father.
“It’s a career for me that has made me happy. It’s bringing more happiness in my family, they’re getting to a place where they didn’t think they would get there.”
His ultimate aim as a professional dancer is to teach fulltime and to do African dance which is where he started and what he considers his passion. He also wants to go to school to study massage therapy.