The University of Michigan’s Center for World Performance Studies and the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, in collaboration with Zimbabwean Cultural Centre of Detroit, will host five prominent artists and scholars from Detroit and Zimbabwe, in an exchange project that investigates cross-cultural encounters and cultural organizing for political and social change, particularly in dance and film.

The JIT Exchange was initiated through the Zimbabwean Cultural Centre in Detroit (ZCCD) with dancer/choreographers Haleem “Stringz” Rasul (Detroit) and Franco “Slomo” Dakha (Harare). The initial exchange began through a ZCCD “call and response” project where both artists collaborated virtually, dancing to the others music. Though the music was foreign - ghetto techno vs. rumba - they each danced in their own regional “jit” style. The uncanny parallel in historical narrative along with similarity of the footwork in the dance styles, led to the collaborative project, the JIT Exchange.

During the first phase of the project, Rasul spent six weeks in Harare, researching Zimbabwe “jit,” or “jiti” as pronounced in Shona, running workshops throughout the country on Detroit jit, and worked collaboratively with Franco Dakha. To bring the project full circle, ZCCD, in partnership with U-M, invited Dakha, filmmaker Kumbulani Zamuchiya and cultural historian Plot Mhako, to spend an immersive six weeks in Detroit. During this time, Haleem Rasul will serve as a King•Chavéz•Parks Visiting Professor, participating in panel discussions, class visits and dance workshops. Rasul will also spearhead a collaborative project in which dancers will “jam” with musicians from the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance, allowing the cultural exchange to expand even further across disciplines. Drawing inspiration from from post-colonial theorist Homi Bhaba’s Third Space, the JIT Exchange allows for artistic exploration in the liminal territory created in cross-cultural encounter, “which gives rise to something different, something new and unrecognizable, a new area of negotiation of meaning and representation.”  

JIT Dance Workshop with Haleem “Stringz” Rasul & Franco “Slomo” Dakha
Monday, September 10, 7:30pm
Haven Hall Posting Wall, 505 S. State Street

This workshop will introduce participants to basic footwork of both Detroit JIT and Zimbabwean jiti dance forms. Wear comfortable clothing.

Panel Discussion: Historical Perspectives on JIT & Jiti Dance
Tuesday, September 11, 6:00pm
East Quad Room 1405, 701 E. University Ave.

This panel explores the history and cultural significance of Detroit jit and Zimbabwe jiti, including screening portions of Rasul’s documentary Jitterbugs: Pioneers of the Jit.

Panel Discussion: Arts and Cultural Organizing for Social Change
Wednesday, September 12, 4:30pm
Neutral Zone, 310 E. Washington

With Haleem Rasul (Hardcore Detroit) , Plot Mhako (Jibilika Trust), Kumbulani Zumuchiya (independent filmmaker) and Bryce Detroit (One Mile Detroit)

Exhibit Opening: “I Wish You Were Here: Postcards as Cross Cultural Communication”
Thursday, September 13, 4:30pm
GalleryDAAS | Haven Hall G648, 505 S. State Street

The Department of Afroamerican and African Studies’ GalleryDAAS in conjunction with the Zimbabwean Cultural Centre of Detroit presents “I Wish You Were Here: Postcards as Cross Cultural Communication.” The exhibit will run September 13 – December 14, 2018, with a break from October 15-25. The fall exhibit for GalleryDAAS has been designed to coincide with the University of Michigan Museum of Art’s exhibit “Beyond Borders: Global Africa.”

JIT Exchange SMTD@UMMA Performance
Thursday, September 13, 7:00pm
University of Michigan Museum of Art, 525 S. State

Haleem Rasul (dance / choreography) & Hardcore Detroit
Franco Dhaka (dance / vocals)
E.Reid JIT Coalition (live music / production)
Mono Mukundu (guitar)

A synthesis of Zimbabwean jiti, Detroit ghetto tech, jit dance, jazz and funk, this performance is the culmination of a month long artist residency and exchange between dancer/choreographers Haleem “Stringz” Rasul  of Detroit and Franco “Slomo” Dhaka of Harare, Zimbabwe, with musical support from SMTD students and alumni. The uncanny parallel in historical narrative and their similar dance styles exemplify the theme of interconnectedness in UMMA’s exhibition Beyond Borders: Global Africa, while the artists’ exchange engages the exhibition’s theme of hybridity and its dialogic approach to African and African diasporic arts.

All events are free and open to the public.

This residency is co-sponsored by the African Studies Center, King•Chavéz•Parks Visiting Professors Program and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, U-M Residential College, U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance, and the University of Michigan Museum of Art.