Gilbert Douglas

Gilbert Douglas © Margie Mackay
Gilbert Douglas is a founding member of the Tumbuka Dance Company for modern dance.

Originating from Zimbabwe, but now living in Australia, Gilbert Douglas is one of Southern Africa’s most respected contemporary dance choreographers and teachers, and is the outgoing Artistic Director of Tumbuka Dance Company.

Gilbert has trained extensively in a variety of techniques including classically as a Ceccetti advanced teacher; and in contemporary dance (including Cunningham and Graham techniques); modern dance; jazz ballet; tap; afro-fusion and a wide variety of different traditional African dances. Outside of Zimbabwe, Gilbert has led workshops and classes in Australia, Senegal, Reunion Island, France, Denmark, Nigeria, Tanzania, Madagascar and South Africa.

Tumbuka Dance Company - Survival Fund from margie mackay on Vimeo.

In 1992, Gilbert was one of the founding members of the highly acclaimed Tumbuka Dance Company (Zimbabwe’s only Professional Contemporary Dance Company), and from 2004 – 2011 was the Company’s Artistic Director. Since 1999 he has choreographed several major works for the company including Hururu (1999 a traditional work for Slovakian television), Kupupura (2001 - a collaborative work with Salia Senou from Burkina Faso), Chenura (2002), Papa (2002), ZIMA (2003), Procession (2004), Nhinhi (2005), Dear Dad (2006) Raramo – my relationship with me (2006), Muramba (2007 a collaboration with Sifiso Kweyama SA), Ngwangwa (2008), I Try (2008), Tariro (2008), Inhlonipo (2009), Procession (2010 – reworked), Chenura (2010 – reworked) and Dead Man Standing (2011). On an almost annual basis, between 2004 - 2011, Gilbert choreographed and collaborated on the Opening of the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA).

During its 20 year history, Tumbuka Dance Company toured extensively throughout both the African and European Festival Circuits, to wide and popular acclaim including: Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, Malawi, Angola, Ivory Coast, Reunion Island, France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Slovakia, UK, Denmark and also to Belize, South America.

In 2001 Gilbert was invited to be part of a small team to create a signature Zimbabwean performance work for the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Dance Festival. He was invited in the same year to participate in the Professional Choreographic Workshop for Traditional and Contemporary African Dance in Toubab Dialaw (Senegal) at the Ecole des Sables. Curated by one of the pioneers of contemporary African dance, Germaine Acogny, this experience paved way for the development of vocabulary and technique that Gilbert uses in many of his works. During this time Gilbert learnt over 40 dances from 30 different African countries, which has further added to his choreographic repertoire and inspiration.

In 2002 Gilbert was invited back to Senegal with top African Choreographers to discuss: ‘The Future of African Dance’. This conference saw Gilbert being invited to give workshops and perform in Nigeria, and then to create work in Madagascar at the Trufesta Festival and Labdihy Dance Lab.

In 2004, Jomba Festival in South Africa invited Gilbert was to present a paper on ‘African Contemporary Dance’. His presentation was very well received and was subsequently printed in a European Arts Journal. In early 2006, Gilbert was invited by the Mathias Julius Dance Project (MJDP) to co-choreograph a work called Nhinhi, which was then performed at that year’s Edinburgh Festival, UK.

In 2010 Gilbert was one of seven artists chosen worldwide to collaborate on a new work for the South African Festival Infecting the City. Gilbert devised and choreographed performances for both professional and community dancers in the resulting highly successful ritual performance work Quiet Emergency.

In 2010 Gilbert first visited Australia where he worked on the 2010 Garma Festival in the remote NT community of Nhulunbuy, managing the daily Bunguul (traditional dance) and main stage performances. Gilbert also travelled to rural Victoria where he work-shopped Sikh and Indigenous community dancers in the development of a fusion dance performance for the Regional Arts Victoria project in Swan Hill: Illuminated by Fire. Here he worked in collaboration with Indigenous choreographer Jacob Boehme and ceremonial artist Margie Mackay.

In late 2011 Gilbert relocated to Australia. He was immediately invited to choreograph the Farewell Ceremony for the Woodford Folk Festival on the 1st January 2012, working with 53 performers to create one of the highlights of the event, in front of an audience of over 15,000 people.

Gilbert continues to work as a freelance Choreographer and dance teacher and is passionate about cross cultural artistic collaborations.



Quiet Emergency Gathering of the City Ceremony Quiet Emergency Illuminated By Fire Dreamtime at the G Longing, Belonging, Land Design: Performance and Installations Dangerous Divas Dreamtime @ the G - 2010 & 2011

Ritual Performance

Margie Mackay Ritual Performance


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