Junaid Jemal Sendi

Junaid Jemal Sendi

The protégé

Published in 2005

Adugna means “fortune” or “fate” in Amharic, one of Ethiopia’s main languages. Junaid Jemal Sendi, Ethiopian dancer, choreographer and teacher with the Adugna Community Dance Theatre Company, values his own good fortune at having been singled out by mentor Saburo Teshigwara for his formidable talents.

Inspiring transformation
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.

Teaching others
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.”