Amazulu - Dance as a Weapon
The Hip-Hop Circus - Part 1
The Club
February 3 - 20, 2005
Thursday - Saturday 10:00pm
Sunday - 5:30pm
Conceived and Performed by: Akim Funk Buddha

Box office 212.475.7710

Hip-Hop meets Cirque de Soleil-style movement theater in "Amazulu: Dance As A Weapon: The Hip-Hop Circus - Part I" by Akim Funk Buddha. The production is his "personal cosmic story" of Hip Hop as unveiled through a multi-cultural stage performance with Beat-Boxing, Martial Arts/Kung Fu, Free Style Dance, African-style percussion, M.C.s, B-boying (break dancing), and more.

The story is a journey through indigenous hip-hop movements and music from Asia to the Southern African Zulu lands to the "other lands" of today. Akim Funk Buddha seeks to unveil the common thread that lies between cultures and to link the past to the present. In "Amazulu: Dance As A Weapon," he employs a combination of language-based and movement theater to create a meditative multidisciplinary performance art piece that explores the urban and ancient Diasporas and how they move through each other and inform the contemporary Urban Hip-Hop movement. He describes his perspective as "holistic," suggesting the emphasis is on the whole.

Spoken elements will include free styling, spoken word, and emceeing, sometimes in Japanese, Zulu, and urban English slang. Movement will include Martial Arts, B-boying (breakdancing), and body balancing. The aim is to create an urban cosmic environment using movement, projections, light and sound. The score will be "Ethnic Hyp Hop notic" sounds consisting of throat singing, beat-boxing, voices, chants and emceeing/rhyming. Akim Funk Buddha will perform freestyle rhyme, spoken word, beat-boxing, throat singing, and vocalizations over hip-hop rhythms and textures. El Raka (aka Erika Banks) will weave vocal opera-like lines in the mix. Kazuma Motomura will add his spoken word, and Hired Gun of ESP & Third Party will emcee. Yuki Nakajima will provide video projection of animated images that will intertwine with the movement on stage.

The artists explain that the title of the piece refers to dance as a tool for survival, in a social and historical context. For example, as indigenous people keep track of their history in their dance; it becomes a survival tool enabling the culture to flourish. Dance is also used as a form of Martial Arts as a way to battle. Thus a performer/dancer may use dance as the means to survive in the urban city life: from performing on the street to performing in theaters. In this context, dance is a weapon against both poverty and the ugly side of street life.

Akim Funk Buddha, a.k.a.Akim Ndlovu has recently appeared at Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors Festival, The Blue Note, Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bric Studio, BAMcafe and World Financial Center's Winter Garden. He was borne in Syracuse, New York and raised in Zimbabwe, which is his cultural homeland. He began dancing and song writing/rhyming at the age of nine. Akim came back to New York in 1990. Inspired by his surroundings, he was motivated to find a creative way to live and began performing in NYC parks and streets. He taught himself how to stand still without blinking, story telling, tap dancing and Mongolian throat singing. In 1992 he and his brother moved permanently to America and cut their first hit album, "Zimbabwe Legit," a mix of African lyrics and beats with Hip-Hop. In 1995, he helped create a performance group, "The Nomadic Lotus," which appeared in clubs, theaters and cafés. He won the Harlem Arts Theater Poetry Slam twice in 1998 and the PS122 Dance Contest in 1999. On TV, he has appeared on "The David Letterman Show," "Sesame Street" (dancing with Big Bird and the Fugees) and "The Chris Rock Show" (as a dancer for Saul Williams), among others.

In 2001, reviewing "Back to Creation" at PS122, the Village Voice (Eva Yaa Asantewaa) wrote, "My inner child loved every second of 'Back to Creation,' the vest-pocket psychadelic extravaganza by Akim Funk Buddha and his singing, dancing, music-making Dha Fuzion crew (P.S. 122). Maybe it was the pulsing sounds, zoned-out video, or non-stop action that made me regress. Or maybe it was Buddha himself--can I really call him that?--a U.S.-born and reared Zimbabwean of protean talent. Knocked upside the head by Giuliani's cops, he falls down the rabbit hole to destiny. There, among wild things too numerous to relate, he meets a wry guru (hilarious Father Laraaji) and tangles with Kimono-clad Cat Dragon (brilliant Chikako Iwahori), battling her in fierce kung fu and tap dance competition. All fables should be this fabulous!"

Reviewing Akim Funk Buddha and Dha Fuzion in "Return to Creation" at P.S. 122 (1999), The New York Times (Jack Anderson) wrote, "Akim Ndlovu, a remarkably agile dancer from Zimbabwe, played a character called Akim Funk Buddha, and he was especially impressive in a scene with Chikako Iwahori, cast as a creature known as Cat Dragon. Their duet soon turned into a duet as they stamped with intricate and fiery footwork reminisent of flamenco and tap dancing. And the stampings were punctuated with strong and potentially lethal kicks inspired by martial arts. Ms. Iwahori also stabbed Mr. Ndlovu with a sword, them revived him by waving an enormous fan. Their energy was irresistible and at the end of the show members of the audience got up and danced along with them."

In past six years he has traveled to Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bali and France to explore and study dance, striving to bring light to cultural parallels. 1998 he formed a world hip-hop band/performance troupe, "Dha Fuzion". He has been Youth Program Coordinator at Center for Contemplative Mind, Northampton, MA and Founding Director of Urban Affairs Department at Projectile Arts, Brooklyn. He has taught and shared movement workshops in Universities in USA, Temples in Thailand. He currently teaches unorthodox voice and chant workshop in Manhattan area.

At La MaMa, he co-created and appeared in "Shadwobox" (1998) and was a member of the ensemble of "Circle" by Yara Arts Group in 2000.

Akim's website is <www.funkbuddha.org>. A variety of high-resolution images are online at <www.sozomedia.com/akim.htm>.

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