Yuster, a master of many arts
Yuster is very curious, active and sporty. She is in to many things! She loves sports including football, grass hockey, handball, netball, volleyball and athletics. She also dabbles in theatre in her school acting squad. Ever since she was young she has loved a challenge! She attended many inter school competitions across Tanzania. She has also competed in Uganda in 1995.
When the time came to think about her career she naturally turned herself to dance, which is a mix of her sport aptitude and her love of show! It was also clear from a young age that she had a real talent for rhythm. As a consequence, from 1996 onwards, she decided to focus on dancing.
In 2000, she joined the group called “Sisi Tambala” which has enjoyed great success with traditional Ngoma music. They won the SADEC Dance festival in Johannesburg in 2000 but the road of success didn’t stop there!
At the SADEC festival in Zimbabwe and she stole the show and proved that Tanzania has it place in the African musical scene! Out of the 30 groups presented in the festival, she won the Best Dancer award and was afterwards selected to represent Tanzania for the UNESCO sponsored common project “Southern Dancer and Drumming Project”. It gathered all the best dancers from all the 10 countries appearing in the competition and they went on a year long tour, performing in Swaziland, Namibia, South Africa to finally end up in Tanzania.
An amazing show stealer
In 2001, with her talent being heavily recognised Yuster was contacted to be one of the dancers of the famous singer Brenda Fassi! It was an incredible experience for Yuster who had the privilege to dance aside Brenda Fassi on the biggest stages of Dar Es Salaam including the Diamond Jubilee and Slipway. In 2003, after some confusion with the group, she decided to found her own group “Zemkala”.
With Zemkala, in 2005, she performed at the Lafesta Festival in Kisumu in Kenya, a festival that gathers all the African groups which has been victorious in previous competitions. This festival showcases the best of African music! This festival was the setting of one of her greatest memories as an artist. She recalls a poignant experience dancing on the street at Kisumu where they happened to perform in front of rough unwelcoming kids. They didn’t understand their music and initially tried to kick them out. However, they kept the show and after ten minutes the crowd was taken over by the sound. When the show ended they were asking for more songs! It is a great memory for her because she succeeded to gain the heart of the public and the joy of the band lifted the crowd to a higher ground. This is the power of dance and music!
2006 was a busy year for the band, they won the Music Crossroad Festival and were taken to Maputo in Mozambique. They then performed at the Chewa Festival in Malawi, it was followed by a festival in Zambia and Bagamoyo Art Festival. Their greatest opportunity came when they performed at the Mondial Festival in the Netherlands, the seventh biggest European festival. In the Netherlands they managed to express their art in ten different locations.
The band was very well received and was even asked to appear at a Hip Hop festival which wanted them to make a demonstration of their traditional African music.
A very big-hearted woman
Yuster has always been a very generous woman and she feels very strongly about a number of issues.
She started to get involved in programs in 1997 when she was involved with the AMREF (African Medical Research Foundation) as a Peer educator for young people and those affected by HIV. Until 2000, she led some HIV awareness campaigns in villages and helped take care of sick people.
Yuster has always wanted to be in a position where she can help the people of her own country. As a consequence, in 2001, she registered a charity in the name of Art In Tanzania. The aim of the charity is to help the people and communities of Tanzania. It took many years to develop the project from an idea to where it is now. They had to find volunteers, make the write-ups and look for the projects possibilities. They now have over 1500 volunteers a year that come from all over the world. The volunteers work in a number of fields such as education, development, music, journalism, architecture, HIV awareness and nursing.
Yuster is also the loving mother of three kids, for who, from 2003 to 2008, she slowed down her artistic career in order to take care of them.
Dance, but above everything: creativity!
Yuster doesn’t like to imitate or to copy what has already been done that’s why she turned her undoubted talent to choreography. For her, the whole point of dance resides in the creation. Her choreography is influenced by the many dance styles that she is familiar with, her trademark being a unique blend between the tribal and African dance but also Latin, thanks to her experience in tango. Her choreographies are adapted to the music, but they are also about expression.Her success is remarkable and she feels very honoured that she has been able to display her art to so many people in so many places.
From 2003 to 2008 when she decided to slow down her career in music, her husband convinced her of the contrary. He pushed her to continue and to create her new band “Sanaa Sana” which is a part of the music program of Art in Tanzania. Her vision for Sanaa Sana came from the will to have an original and creative band that will have a new take on African music and that will bring the public something different. When she created the band in January 2009, it had 7 members. After their show in Finland, she realized that they should add more value to the band. After doing some music research, she came up with the idea of integrating foreigner musicians. She asked her good friend a Congolese musician himself whether he knew any one who would be interested in the project. This offer was taken up by many talented and respected musicians and the sound of Sanaa Sana was born.
Dancer and backing singer in Sanaa Sana
From nursing studies to dance
As a child, Mary’s dream was to be an artist, although she didn’t have the confidence to think that she could succeed. That’s why, in 2001, after completing her primary school in Milmani, she opted for a nursing career. Unfortunately, she had to stop because her mother could not handle the school fees any more. This was the spark that Mary needed to push her into her true passion, dance.
The first steps of an international career
Despite her young age, Mary who's Sanaa Sana nickname is “The Mosquito” in reference to her very punchy personality, has already had the opportunity to perform in many shows overseas.
First of all, her professional career started when she joined the band Dunia in 2002 which was rehearsing on government premises. As a consequence she had the opportunity to perform to many government events in front of national and international personalities! In 2004 she joined the Simba Theatre Group with who she had her first international experience. She went to perform in China for three months in 2005 and four months in 2006. In 2004, they also participated to the famous Bansara Zanzibar Festival.
In 2007, she took a career break in order to care for her newborn child. In 2007, she made a smashing stage comeback during the World Travel Market in London with the band Sisi Tembala. In 2009 she set the Finnish, Dutch and Ethiopian scenes on fire with Sanaa Sana. Including performances at the Ethno Sound Festival and Pop Jazz Festival in Koriamo and also in Tampere’s clubs.
These experiences were the highlights of Marys performing life, indeed she never believed that she would have the opportunity to play abroad and to be well received as far a field as Europe.
Mary, dance and Sanaa Sana
Mary is very passionate about all African dances from traditional to modern. Her favourite dance is the Dombolo which she finds suits her punchy personality.This young lady has a crush on the band Westlife but her more serious influences include Lady Jadee (a famous Tanzanian singer) and Yuster Nyakachara who has been a real source of inspiration to her and as well as being a good friend who has supported her in her artistic career. Despite her experience, before every show Mary still gets nervous.
It was during rehearsal in Nyumba Ya Sanaa (The House of Art) that Mary first met Yuster. Since this moment they have become really good friends and Yuster asked her to join the Sisi Tembala group. Mary jumped at this opportunity, not only was the project really interesting her but the Simba group was travelling and she was stuck at home taking care of her sick mother.
The Sanaa Sana project is very exciting for her and she has a lot of ambition concerning it. She knows that living as an artist requires talent and also patience, she is very happy to be progressing her career with Sanaa Sana.
Dancer in Sanaa Sana.
Dancing since childhood
Agnes was born in 30/6/1990 in Kilwa. In 1997 - 2003 Agnes attended primary school but because of family problems she was not able to join the secondary school. She liked to dance already when she was in primary school and that is also where she learned to dance the traditional ngoma. After she stopped studying, she decided to have a career in dancing because she had nothing to do. That is when she joined the Wamata group, who were using the ngoma to educate young people about HIV. She was in the group for two years, then joined Mjomba band for one year. After that she joined Mawazo and is now working with Dar Creators and Sanaa Sana.
Agnes has already performed overseas in FInland and is developing to be a star dancer