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Lenka Dusilová and Tendayi Kuumba Perform in Washington

Top Czech recording artist Lenka Dusilová and dancer Tendayi Kuumba performed the Washington premiere of their new work, as part of the project Prague-New York Effects on February 8, at 8 pm, in the Davis Performing Arts Center’s Gonda Theater at Georgetown University.  

Deputy Chief of Mission Jaroslav Zajíček said, “This project, held under the auspices of Czech Ambassador to the United States, Petr Gandalovič, and United States Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Andrew Schapiro, celebrates our transatlantic collaboration. The project brings together outstanding US and American artists to create original works and share these works with audiences in New York, Washington, DC, and Prague.”         
Prague-New York Effects’ mission is to bring together a Czech and American artist, from different social, cultural, ethnic and contextual environments and through the art process create a performative langauge based on common learning and mutual understanding.

Program Director Miřenka Čechová of the Czech Center explained, “Lenka and Tendayi met for one week in New York and worked intensely to create the performance, talking together about their experiences. These artists are the first in a series of ‘effects’ we hope to share with the community.”              

Lenka Dusilová is a Czech pop star icon and six-time Angel Award-winning artist. At the turn of the millennium, Lenka was an instrumental figure within the Czech pop-rock mainstream. She has performed music for over 16 years, as a guest artist for the band Lucie supporting the Rolling Stones tour in Prague (1995), touring with the band Čechomor on their album Transformations, and also having her own distinguished solo career.  After years in mainstream music entertainment, she decided to create a more personal and layered style, becoming a brave icon of innovative pop. In 2008, she collaborated with an array of artists on the album Eternal Seekers (2008).  More recently, she has collaborated with artists on the album Baromantika, embracing electronics, tribal beats and the experience of jazz musicians.

Tendayi Kuumba, is an innovator, performer, dancer, and singer born in Washington, DC and raised in Buffalo, NY, and Atlanta, GA. She describes herself as a  “lover of life and the pulse that drives it.” Trained from the age of three in classical ballet-movement, she says that the vocabularies of African, contemporary, modern, and hip hop dance flow from her pores. Currently, she is a touring company member of Urban Bush Women as well as ASE Dance Theatre Collective, Liberata Dance Theater, Zifa Dance, and T. Lang Dance. She is also a jazz singer at the Williamsburg Music Center under the direction of Gerry Eastman. Tendayi states that her motivation and love for dance and music is derived from her personal statement “my music and heartbeat are the soundtrack to my life.”      
During the performance, Lenka sat to the left of the stage creating beautiful layered music using her crystal clear voice, guitar rhythms, and drum beats, cleverly manipulated on a computer.  Tendayi stood to the left of Lenka, outside a circle that was centered on stage.  Using dance, Tendayi  interpreted aspects of Lenka’s songs and her own emotional singing as she moved towards the center of the circle.  At one point, Tendayi danced like a Samurai warrior as Lenka sang a song that touched the soul and all at once they were one through their art.            

As the performance progressed, it became evident that the two artists were having a dialogue. Although one spoke primarily Czech and the other English, they bridged the divide through music and dance – their common language. Recorded voices from their first meeting filtered in and out. Lenka in her songs spoke about being shy, the Velvet Revolution, and being a mom.   

Following the performance, the artists spoke in a talk back about the experience of creating the original work. Audience members applauded the two for creating such “an honest, authentic rendition” of two women meeting. Others commented on the special “fragility” of the piece. Lenka revealed that she was more comfortable speaking through music. Tendayi said that she could not speak Czech but felt that she could understand Lenka through the emotion in her songs. Using the tools of dance and music, they erased borders and began communicating.         

Prague-New York Effects was developed by the Czech Center in New York and co-produced by Art Frame Akropolis Palace s.r.o.




Lenka Dusilova & Tendayi Kuumba, Gonda Theatre