© Cylla von Tiedemann

Pulga Muchochoma, one of our stellar alumni, has been performing with Toronto Dance Theatre since he graduated from the School in 2009. Currently on tour in Western Canada with the company, Pulga will be dancing in TDT’s much anticipated Glass Fields program at the Fleck Dance Theatre, March 20-24. Later in the year, we are thrilled that he will be teaching another of his exhilarating workshops in African dance for our Summer School.

“Pulga is a super physical mover – rippling with energy, radiating joy, and dancing with his soul stripped bare. He never fails to move and inspire me.”
– Peggy Baker

We caught up with Pulga in the midst of his whirlwind activities, and asked him to tell us about his path in dance. Here are some of his thoughts.

“I was junior professional soccer player in Mozambique, until I saw the traditional African dance company, Montes Namuli, perform before a soccer match. I was inspired, and right away, I transitioned into African dance, and joined the company. In 2006, I came to Canada with the company for an International AIDS Conference. With Montes Namuli/Shakespeare Link Canada, I performed in several shows in venues across Toronto, and when the company returned to Mozambique, my sponsor, Kennedy (Cathy) MacKinnon, asked me if I would like to stay and study in the Professional Training Program at the School of TDT, and offered to sponsor my studies here. I had never heard of the School, but I knew it was a great chance for me, and saying YES was the only answer I had.

In the beginning, being at the School was one of the most difficult times of my life; I didn’t speak any English, and I was living away from my family in a new country far away from mine for the first time. Looking back, I have to admit that it was the best choice I have ever made. At the School, I didn’t only learn about dance, but also learned to speak English. By being in an environment where the body was our language, I could communicate freely with my classmates. I am so thankful for those guys!

I received tremendous training with amazing teachers, and during my third year I had a wonderful experience that boosted my professional confidence: I was asked to perform with one of my teachers, Johanna Bergfelt, in a beautiful duet choreographed by Kate Alton. Then right after I graduated, I was invited to join the TDT company, where I am now in my ninth season under Artistic Director Christopher House.

In the past nine years with the company, I have worked with many local and international choreographers, and it’s been a great experience. One of the dances that I particularly loved doing was the duet called Against Sleep, which was choreographed in 1968 by Patricia Beatty. In 2012, the company presented a retrospective program called ‘Rare Mix’, and I had the chance to perform this beautiful work with Alana Elmer. It was amazing to dance a masterpiece by a living legend.”

We asked Pulga what he’d like to tell us about his teaching, and about choreographing. He says:
“I love teaching; also I learn so much from it. I find a great joy in teaching African dance, since I get to share the style that put me where I am now. I don’t choreograph as much as I would like to, since I am so busy with the company, but I don’t feel any pressure to do it. I recently made a solo that I performed at XTOD Solo Dance Xchange, curated by Kaeja d’Dance. Usually when I choreograph, it’s in small town dance schools and with non-professional dancers.”

We asked Pulga about his long-term ambitions for the future; here’s his reply:
“I run my own company called Pulga Dance and I mostly teach African Dance and Fitness. That’s something that I will always do. You can get information about my classes at www.pulgadance.com . I also hope to create more in the future and continue to dance. The sky is the limit!”

Finally, we asked Pulga if he had any thoughts he might wish to offer to current students at the School. Here is his response:
“There is an African proverb that I would love to share with the current students, and everyone else: ‘If you wish to move mountains tomorrow, you must start by lifting stones today.’ I guess we all want to be the best we can be one day, but it all starts today.”

Thank you, Pulga!