Elsie Mufuka calls her movement style, “Afro Russe,” a term that signals her personal and professional identities and trainings. Mufuka, artistic director of MufukaWorks Dance Company and a dance educator working in public schools and in studio settings, grew up near Beaufort, SC. She studied ballet as a child and travelled to Zimbabwe to visit family and friends. After graduating from Coker College, where she studied modern dance, Mufuka went to South Africa, where she danced in several dance companies, among them Ntosana Contemporary Dance Theatre (Sello Pesa), Taelo Dance Theatre (Gustin Makgeledisa), DTL Entertainment (Tumie Letsoenyo), and Lorcia Cooper. Mufuka describes dance styles from southern Africa as distinct from the west African dance we usually see in the United States.
Working with South African artists and their companies, as a dancer, arts administrator, and dance instructor, was formative for Mufuka, as was living and working in Johannesburg and in the townships of Soweto and Alexandra. In making dances, Mufuka creates positive images of women and of black cultures; in her work as a company director and educator, she emphasizes community. Her work in South Africa, and experiences as an educator at Benton Heights Elementary School for the Arts and for Charlotte Ballet’s REACH program, have taught her that collaboration greatly expands what she can accomplish as an artist and educator.