Tofo Tofo, the Mozambican kings of dance who caused a stir in superstar Beyonce’s Run the World (Girls) video, had Kenyans gawking as they dished out their complicated dance moves at the Tribe Hotel this week.
The dance troupe founding members were in Nairobi for the launch of the YouTube platform for Kenya, courtesy of Google.
They performed the routine made famous by Jay Z’s wife, and went on to dazzle the crowd to the point of goose-bumps with their newer routines.
Tofo Tofo were called to the States in April 2011 when Beyonce and her team tried unsuccessfully to mimic and build on their ‘kwaito’ style dance that was already making the rounds on YouTube.
After months of unsuccessful practice, and months of searching the boys were whisked off to Hollywood for nearly one month to personally coach the team.
“At first we didn’t know we were going to be shooting a video. We were going there for a kind of a workshop, for dance. But when we arrived in LA, first, second, third day and then Beyonce came and introduced herself,” troupe leader David told Capital Lifestyle in an exclusive interview. Such rigid but fast paced dance moves are common in Mozambique, but the sequence in Run The World borrowed heavily from the South African panstula influence.
It took Tofo Tofo about 19 days to teach Beyonce’s dancers how to do the steps, working from 10am to 6pm every day. The workshop was running concurrent with auditions for female dancers who would be cast in the Run The World video.
“After 19 days of working, they did a cut of 200 girls to do the work in the video. It took us three days to shoot the video – our section. After that we had to come back.”
David said with his heavy Mozambican accent that Beyonce is a kind lady who is a very good dancer, and managed to learn most of the steps within the first week. He further denied seeing any illuminate paraphernalia on set.
“She was very professional and very nice lady.”
The dancers were happy to have shared their culture with the world through the video and have revealed that they have been invited back by another popular artist whom they refused to disclose.
“For now I can’t say. We are still organising with our partners and friends. We are pushing for it to happen early next year after the winter.”
He did however confess that the musician is male so my bet is on the super talented Chris Brown.
Tofo Tofo or W Tofo is based in Maputo, and its founding members have practiced dance from an early age, gaining popularity while dancing on the street, and eventually in weddings and other functions.
Based loosely on the Sarakasi Dancers formula, W Tofo has recruited several more members who usually dance in groups of three, so they can be in many functions at the same time.
They work widely among youth in various parts of Mozambique to be able to impart their skills and contribute to building the nation through that.
“We are human, one day we can disappear. So it’s important for us to leave some positive message behind. Especially the children, we need to teach them something,” he said.