Abdoul Mujyambere on his passion for theater and dance

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Abdoul Mujyambere’s two middle names are; ‘theater’, and ‘dance’. So far, he has had the best of both worlds of dance and theater.

He perfected his dance moves at the Amizero Dance Kompagnie, a leading contemporary dance troupe in Kigali which was founded by the dancer and actor Wesley Ruzibiza. For theater, it was the Ishyo Arts Center, and later Mashirika Performing Arts and Media Company that gave him a lease of life.

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Abdoul Mujyambere (right) with Wesley Ruzibiza, the founder of Amizero Dance Kompagnie.

Today, his role and professional portfolio in Amizero Dance Kompagnie has grown threefold; he is a performer, organizer, and choreographer.

He joined Amizero in 2011 when Ruzibiza, spotting his untapped talent in body movement, invited the young man to join the group.

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Majyambere speaks highly of his mentor:

“Wesley Ruzibiza is my teacher, choreographer, friend, mentor, brother … and the list goes on. He asked me to join him in the company when I was just starting my career as a dancer, and then later as an artist he kept guiding me and sharing with me a lot of professional skills up to now!”

In 2013 he decided to spread his artistic wings, auditioning for Romeo and Juliet, a production of the Ishyo Arts Center and a Canadian-American crew that specializes in Shakespeare Theater.

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After a series of impressive performances in a tour that took them across the country, he was selected with two other actors for an intensive workshop in Massachusetts, United States. The training focused on theater and body movement skills, while the workshop took place in a theater company called “Shakespeare and Company”, famous for Shakespeare Theater trainings and performances.

Today, he works mainly as a freelance performer and choreographer not only in Rwanda, but also travels extensively abroad.

Started in school

Majyambere was born and raised in the Nyakabanda and Kimisagara, locales of the City of Kigali.

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“When I was a kid I and my elder brother grew up having a deep passion for martial arts and acrobatics movements from our early age till when I started secondary boarding school. We would regularly practice kicks, splits, flips, and so on ...our main source of inspiration was cinema action movies. Apart from that, I have never really attended any formal training about martial arts. The six years I spent in secondary school I didn’t really do anything practical that brought me close to the arts except literature courses I took in my last 3 years of secondary school,” he explains.

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In 2010, after completing secondary school he landed a scholarship at the National University of Rwanda (NUR) Huye Campus to study Arts and Modern languages.

“There I realized that I had more time to resume my passion in Martial Arts or any other activity I would be involved in related to movement. After doing my quick research about all activities taking place in the campus I came across Contemporary Dance and from the first time I knew it was my thing.”

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He started off by joining a dance company called Inshoza, in 2000, and remembers that “everything was happening quickly and I was doing lot of performances just after a few months.

A year later, in 2011, he found a more professional opening with the Amizero Dance Kompagnie on the invitation of the founder, Wesley Ruzibiza. Right away, the group embarked on a dance festival with which it toured East Africa.

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At the beginning of 2015 he joined the Mashirika Performing Arts and Media Company, the premier theater production company in the country.

“First of all I was curious to know what was going on in the company and I started taking part in some workshops and after a while I was cast in various productions as both actor and dancer and sometime as assistant choreographer.”

Some of his more memorable theater and stage appearances include.

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Heritage with Inshoza Dance Company in 2010; Larmes Noires and Frontières with Amizero Dance Company (2010 and 2012 respectively); Mboka with Ishyo Arts Center in 2012; Romeo And Juliet with An American theater Company and Ishyo Arts center in 2013; Face-Off (his first work as a Choreographer, in 2014); Run run with Amizero Dance Company (2014), Much ado about Nothing, with Shakespeare and Company (US, 2014); Just Walk with Anjolombala from Madagascar in 2015; Dear Children... Sincerely with Mashirika and StagesTheater in 2015; and The Mémoire, his second choreography piece, in 2016.

Away from the domestic scene, Majyambere has also been doing a spot of globe-trotting.

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“So far I have visited and performed in all the countries of East Africa. I also spend some of my time during the year in Senegal (West Africa) every year since 2015 as I’m doing a program on Afro- Contemporary dance and I will be graduating in June this year. Apart from that I have visited and performed in the United States (Massachusetts and New York). My most recent trips were to Asia (Sri Lanka and India). What I like about traveling is you get to know about different cultures and ways of living. You Learn new things and meet new friends and it makes you grow as a person therefore you become open as you get educated through other cultures from a different perspective.”

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He describes the year gone by as one that greatly impacted his career.

“I worked on a great theater production about Humanity in Asia called “Dear Children..Sincerely in Sri Lanka and India and it enriched my theater performing skills and raised my confidence in acting which I find very cool! From February to June I was in Senegal where I participated in various international workshops on dance Including the one organized by PARTS, a famous contemporary dance school from Belgium and Ecole des Sables of Mama Germaine Acogny directed currently by Patrick Acogny. During my time there my Dance skills improved a lot through meeting different choreographers, exchanging with my fellow Students as well as doing my personal research. Back in Rwanda right after that I worked on a new dance project with Mashirika and Two Awesome Choreographers Tjarda and Hilde. Afterwards I started working on my personal project The Mémoire, choreographing and staging several performances across Kigali till the end of the year.

“Away from performing, you will catch him perfecting his dance, yoga and capoeira, besides a passion for photography and film.

“I like watching movies! I watch lot of different types of movies except Tanzanian, Nigerian and Mexican movies... those you never know if they are really theater stuff or real movies.”

I asked Wesley Ruzibiza, his dance mentor for his thoughts about Majyambere.

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“Abdoul Majyambere joined Amizero Kompagnie in 2011 during the East African tours of black tears and since then he has been touring and working with us in different productions and projects. I have seen Abdoul grow from an aspiring dancer to a professional one with passion, love of his work and a lot of sacrifice. As a dancer he is dedicated, very stubborn and creatively open to experience any form of art, be it theatre, poetry, music etc.. My personal experience with him is satisfactory and professionally rewarding. As one of the choreographers who has trained and coached him I believe he holds a bright future in the sector and he is a person to watch and follow, he has a lot to offer and he is not afraid to invest in his own development, something that most artists don’t do.”

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“Abdoul is not only working hard to be relevant but he puts in extra in the name of art. All he wants is to perform in his life,” quipped Hope Azeda, the founder of Mashirika Performing Arts and Media Company.

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