“Mabina” is a Congolese word meaning dance. “I think that dance reflects life,” says Rujeko Dumbutshena, Zimbabwean performer and teacher (formerly in UNM’s dance department) and Camp Mabina’s founder. “African dance is literally like a mimicking of different activities, daily activities.” Held on Synergia Ranch, located in the high desert prairie near Santa Fe, the 12th annual camp features classes in song, drums, marimba, yoga, history, African and Haitian dance, and more. Teachers are coming from seven countries—five of them African—and several courses overlap each day, all day. These range from beginning to advanced levels. Dumbutshena says some of the people who go have danced for years, but others haven’t ever danced before. She encourages novices to spend at least a whole day, take a few classes, eat the meals and even camp overnight in order to get a full experience.
Although Camp Mabina is pan-African, Dumbutshena likes to put some focus on artists from her country. The closing concert at The Cooperage will feature Zimbabwean teachers from this year’s camp. Guests will also take the stage over the course of the night—expect guitarist and vocalist Zivanai Masango, members of local band Wagogo, and perhaps even some of the audience. The events should feel like parties and will be very interactive. Dumbutshena agrees that everyone should get on their feet. “It’s my mission to have people dance as much as they can because I think it’s a healthy and fun activity,” she says. “And African dance is kind of geared for everybody to do it.”