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MA PDP student Ishimwa Muhimanyi on subverting identity


Written by
Colin Buttimer
Published date
12 January 2016


We spoke to MA Performance Design And Practice student Ishimwa Muhimanyi about his experiences on the course, as well as his work on subverting identity stereotypes and his recent and forthcoming shows in London.

Ishimwa has a BA Honours degree in Ballet and Contemporary Dance, and was recommended MA Performance Design and Practice by a friend. He attended the open day and found the course instantly appealed to him:

I’ve always had an interest beyond dance and the dance world is sort of limiting for me, I wanted to explore fashion, with lighting with video and photography. I thought the course would be perfect for that because as an MA it gives you the facilities and the guidance to do whatever you want to do. It’s almost like Fine Art, but primarily focusing on the performance aspect.

His recent show at Bethnal Green’s Rich Mix was titled ‘Niyizi’ and was an hour long piece which subverted ideas of gender and religion: 

All my work deals with identity, in all forms – religious identity, racial, gender. It was quite autobiographical; when I was younger my mum used to allow me to wear dresses and I strongly believe that because she allowed me to do that I never thought that being different was something to be looked down on, I always embraced it. So the show very much deals with that, I change into different very fabulous costumes (…) I’m in drag but I’m playing gospel music, which is interesting because everyone had their preconceived ideas. I love breaking down people’s existing stereotypes.

He also talked about his upcoming show ‘Sirens’, due to take place on January 15 at The Place, 17 Duke’s Road in London:

It looks at the Greek mythical creatures versus the sirens that we hear from the police. It’s merging the two together. Police nowadays are given this authority as people who are there to save protect us, and Sirens were also given authority as people who are beautiful and seductive. And I see similarities within that; they’re both seen as dangerous but people desire both. I’m playing with the idea of polysemy.

Read Ishimwa’s profile in full.