Jemal was 12 years old with little education and few prospects when he was invited to join an innovative dance training programme for poor children in Addis Ababa. Ten years later, the 22-year-old, praised for his incredible range of accomplishments, is playing a leading role in the development of contemporary dance in Ethiopia.
Learning from the best
“The five-year training programme brought me into contact with choreographers and teachers from all over the world,” says Junaid, ”but I learned more than I ever expected from working with Mr Teshigawara. It was like starting at the beginning.”
From dancer to choreographer
The young Ethiopian is often commissioned to choreograph work, creating such pieces as Triticale, about famine, and performing at dance festivals in Africa and Europe. In 2003, along with other members of Adugna, he performed his own work, Yemot Guzo (Death’s Journey), about his grandfather’s death, at a choreography festival in Madagascar.
Junaid leads classes in contemporary, African and traditional Ethiopian dance for people throughout his country – rural and urban, young and old. As part of the Adugna Potentials project, he also works with disabled children, mirroring Teshigawara’s involvement with the vision-impaired.
Opportunity and responsibility
Early in 2005, Junaid performed with Teshigawara’s company, KARAS, in Tokyo and Hong Kong and joined the troupe for a tour of Kazahana, his mentor’s latest work. He will return to Ethiopia where he says, “dance needs to grow much more. I have a big responsibility to help accomplish that.”
August 2014 Choreographer Junaid Jemal Sendi has set up Ethiopia’s first social enterprise for dance, Destino Dance Company, along with fellow professional dancer Addisu Demissie
August 2011 If a single word could depict the young Ethiopian dancer and choreographer Junaid Jemal Sendi, “generosity” would be spot on.
April 2009 Junaid Jemal Sendi and fellow Ethiopian dancer Addisu Demissie share the Sadler's Wells stage.