Bawren Tavaziva grew up in Zimbabwe and came to the UK in 1998. Soon he founded his now celebrated dance company, with its unique style blending influences from the dances he saw in his childhood with European contemporary dance. His company came last week, as part of the Dancin’ Oxford festival, with a brand new work, Sensual Africa.

It’s the result of what Tavaziva calls “a pilgrimage” back to Africa, this time to Malawi, where the tribes whose dances he had seen as a boy originated. “I wanted to spend time with the Chewa people and the Tumbuka tribe” he says. “The boys go into the bush for three weeks, where they are beaten up like crazy, because to become a dancer in that tribe you have to be fierce. The girls also go into the bush, but they learn about morals, how to take care of their husband, and how to be good in bed. Many of the initiation ceremonies involve dance. I wanted to take that style and vibe and fuse it with my own understanding of dance”.

Sensual Africa certainly lives up to its title. This is a mainly high-speed work of great sensuality. It’s often aggressive, very often sexy — with fairly explicit coupling of boys and girls, and at other times there is a beautiful lyricism to be seen. The footwork is speedy and accurate, the dance-style clearly evoking Africa, with lots of squatting, floor-thumping bounces and hip-twitching shimmying across the stage.

Following some virtuoso drumming by Douglas Thorpe, there is an impressive opening solo from the powerfully-built Petros Treklis, who is excellent throughout, as is the other male dancer, tall, elegant Travis Clausen-Knight. They partake in a fierce duet at one point, while also making advances at the girls as the work progresses.

Among the women, Lisa Rowley shone in a series of energetic and demanding solos, but, to be fair, the whole cast showed themselves to be highly trained and highly skilled. There is a terrific giving out of energy in this hour-long piece — so much so that it necessitates a 20-minute interval for the dancers to recover. It would be better to keep it shorter and running without a break.

The evening began with a curtain-raiser by local dancers who had done a workshop with Tavaziva in Oxford. This resulted in a strong piece that demonstrates how much can be achieved in just a couple of days.

Tavaziva is at The Place in London on March 13 and 14.