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 By Janusz Miarka

 By Janusz Miarka



For over 15 years I have practiced various dance styles including, Afro-Latin folk dances from Colombia and Brazil, and the most loved of them all, Capoeira Angola. Yet, what I enjoy the most is being creative with these different styles and merging them with contemporary/classical dance practice so that experimental/expressive dance pieces can be born.

I have now been able to share this as part of teaching programs or 1-off workshops In London, Portugal and China bringing together children, women and communities to celebrate life and movement.  These have included Salsa/Latin dance classes, Ballet (Classical dance), Afro-Latin flavoured classes, Contemporary infused with folk dance workshops and  expressive dance workshops.

Contemporary dance and drama:

My journey through movement and physical expression initiated through contemporary dance almost 15 years ago, when I needed a special tool to help me to express my inner most feelings of anxiety and a sense of loss. I was never going back as this opened the doors to new dance forms, new physical ways of exploring myself, others and my surroundings.

Drama has also been an important part of my creative journey as with the years I have become more familiar with the use of physical theatre within creative and experimental productions. Furthermore, for over 6 years I used techniques from theatre of the oppressed to work with different communities. As an organiser and outreach worker, I also worked on putting together projects and performance pieces for/with the community, which not only included drama, but also dance and visual arts. This aimed at inspiring more active citizenship and giving all community members’ an opportunity to access the therapeutic and transformative power of creativity.

How I use dance and drama now:

As I became more and more aware of the influence that dance and drama have on all aspects of our lives, and how these practices free the mind I begun to focus more on improvisation and free expression. I believe dance is a gateway to a deeper connection, not just to our emotions and feelings, but also to others, our inner knowledge, our inner teacher, and our essence.

Technique and rigour are important for my own self-expressive work and for teaching any of the dance forms I offer. However, my main focus and interest lies in applying these different dance styles to fit a more therapeutic environment that allows people to become more in touch with themselves and others. This includes the teaching of different steps, techniques, individual and collective practice which is then followed by improvisation and free flow. This will always manifest our innermost, weak, angry, anxious, fearful, tearful, joyful, loving, strong and assertive selves. Such movement sessions as a part of an overall healing program is proven to give us a sense of integration, allowing inner silence and harmony to be born within us once again.


Capoeira and Afro-Brasilian influence:

Capoeira which is a traditional form of martial arts from Angolan/Brasilian roots which helps to cultivate a deep sense of strength in order to pursue personal goals. It helps us to stand on our own ground and “liberate” ourselves  from the negative influence or oppression of others. As a deeply grounding and releasing practice I was able to begin strengthening my physical body and shaping my inner “warrior”.

I began with Capoeira Regional with the group Palmares and Abolicao. Until... Capoeira Angola found me filling my life with its movement, tricks, sequences and playfulness, music and singing. For more than 9 years I have trained with many groups like South London Capoeira, Marazul, but mostly Filhos da vida and Angoleiros do mar and Mestre Marcelo Angola. Through this dance form I began to learn more about Maculelé, Samba de Roda and coco de roda amongst other afro-Brasilian dance forms.

Folk and African influences:

Working as part of the experimental dance and theatre groups in London enabled me to get closer to the typical rhythms of my country of birth, Colombia. At the same time I made part of several independent creative collectives that would experiment and fuse Contemporary dance, Capoeira, Afro-Latin styles and theatre to explore different themes that questioned the formation of our identity and various contemporary issues.

As a performer:

I was able to take part in various plays for small theatres around London, while collaborating with different artists and organisations to create short performances. Organisations that I worked with included, New Generation, Refugee Youth, Southwark Refugee Communities Forum (Monkey Wise), Re-Write and The Greater London Authority. I currently focus more on creating therapeutic communities, however, I do still love to find people to collaborate and perform with!

Previously performed at:

South Bank Centre, Arcola theatre, Blue Elephant theatre, Royal Festival Hall.


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