Artist bio

Dawit Seto an Ethiopian contemporary dancer and choreographer. He completed an artist’s residency in choreography at Cité des arts, France and holds a diploma in dance from Ecole des Sables, Senegal. Dawit’s work pioneers the study of movement language within Ethiopia’s extensive traditional dance archive. With his ongoing creative research practice, Movement Vocab, he develops a new dance technique informed by the traditional and historical background of Ethiopian culture. Through his performances and choreographies, he creates an inventory of somatic language from the collective memory of Ethiopian bodies and makes it available to the contemporary audience. He has performed and presented his pieces on noteworthy stages across Ethiopia and internationally. Dawit is a co-founder of Contemporary Nights, organizing events showcasing the works of emerging and established artists in and around Addis Ababa. He collaborates with Addis Guzo, a non-profit providing mobility aid for people living with disabilities. He co-directs, movement for life, a contemporary dance training program for the physically disabled.




Dance - Modern

Artist Statement

Swarm “መንጋ” is a witness of current situation in Ethiopia, linking environmental issues to humanitarian crisis engulfing Ethiopia at the moment. Tracing the narrative of an ordinary Ethiopian citizen’s laborious existence in parallel with the life cycle of trees, Swarm reveals the entangled relationship between nature and human. Wounding one inevitably emerges as a crisis on the other. I highlight the weight of physical labor with movements referencing the work of toiling with earth, to further lean on the narrative that humanity is sustained by nature.

Borrowing from the longstanding tradition of carrying a stick as a lifelong companion, a popular practice by men in rural Ethiopia, I tell the story of the inseparable relationship between environment and humanity. The wielded stick, known us “ሽመል” (Shemel) in Amharic is a support, a weapon, a took, a shield, and an identity marker for the man carrying it. I highlight this entanglement to address the contemporary issue of desert locust swarm, currently destroying the livelihoods of many hardworking farmers. Movements in 1’26” is homage to women mourning the destruction of their crops by the locust swarm with a solemn collective prayer.

How it fits into contest

Pandemic, civil war, lucaste, drughte. This chaotic situation makes us more dependent on the Lord for strength and power. As children of God, we prepare for a spiritual battle. I was reflecting to illustrate one of the ways we defeat evil is by praying and being strong in spiritual warfare.
As I observed a woman's crying out to God when they saw a swarm of locusts devouring her crops, I adapted this gesture into my artwork.


Details and credits
Concept and directing / Dawit seto

production manager Sarah Bushra
Dawit Seto
Bethlehem Leul
Eskatnaf Habtimer
Abdulkarim Ditamo

Filming crew - Guzo Films
Semagnget Aychiluhem

camera: Gad Kiflom
Editing: Biniam Dejene

Music / Sound Sources

There are no spoken words in my vocabulary.

Transcript / Lyrics

The music we used contains no spoken words or lyrics.

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