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Pantsula dance group in Orange Farm

Jaw-Dropping South African Dance in Orange Farm

On Saturday and Sunday I participated in the 2018 #JoziWalks weekend. Sponsored by the Johannesburg Development Agency, #JoziWalks invites people/groups from all over Joburg to organize walking tours in their communities. (Read about last year’s #JoziWalks.) On Saturday I joined the walk through Orange Farm, led by the InTouch Youth Development group. The start of our walk through Orange Farm. Photographer Hymie (left) walks with one of the hosts from Orange Farm. Cute kids who demanded a photograph. Orange Farm onlooker. Orange Farm is a township founded in 1988. It’s an hour’s drive south of downtown Joburg — a perfect illustration of the spacial segregation of apartheid. There are very few jobs in Orange Farm so virtually everyone (I mean everyone able to find a job, which isn’t easy) living there has to make the long, costly commute to Joburg for work. I was excited for this walk as I’d never been to Orange Farm before. It was really interesting seeing a new place, and I was particularly blown away by the dancing. Dancing in Orange Farm We watched three dance groups perform: a Tswana dance group called Jascho, a Pantsula group called Killers Entertainment, and a Zulu dance group […]

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Behind the Scenes at the Joburg Ballet

Every now and then, the Joburg Ballet hosts open rehearsal days at its studio in Braamfontein. I went once before in 2013, soon after the Joburg Ballet was started, and although I knew nothing about ballet I was enthralled by both the dancing and the rehearsal space. Two years later, I still know nothing about ballet. But I think it’s about time I started learning. I went to another open day last weekend and was overwhelmed by how beautiful and fun it was. A group of dancers during their warm-up session on the top floor of the ballet studio. The dancing in itself is amazing, but it’s the dancing in combination with the amazing view of downtown Joburg that really does it for me. This has to be one of the prettiest places in the entire city during ballet rehearsals. Flying leap. Can you tell that I love these silhouettes? This is my favorite silhouette because the dancer seems to be mimicking the ballet mannequin hanging from the ceiling.  I’m fascinated by pointe ballet shoes and the loud “clack” sound they make when a dancer’s foot hits the floor. The company is rehearsing for its next big performance, Don Quixote, which opens on 28 August. […]

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Five Things I Didn’t Know About Ballet

On Monday, as part of the Joburg City Festival, I attended a rehearsal at the South African Mzansi Ballet in Braamfontein. I know nothing about ballet — in fact I’ve never attended a ballet performance before. I was excited to get a behind-the-scenes look and learn a few things. The ballet studio is a beautiful, airy space with great light. Taking photos there was a joyful experience. I was sad when the one-hour rehearsal came to an end.

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Last weekend I was invited to attend a show called ‘Umoja: The Spirit of Togetherness‘ at Joburg’s Victory Theatre in Houghton Estate. I’d heard it was a great show and had been invited more than once before, but somehow always found an excuse to miss it. I’ve now gone to the show on two consecutive Saturday nights. I can’t believe it took me so long. It’s one of this city’s best-kept secrets. The concept of Umoja (which means ‘Unity’ in Swahili) is simple — a celebration of black South African music and dance over course of the country’s history. The show’s founders, veteran performers Thembi Nyandeni and Todd Twala, created Umoja as a way of empowering underprivileged kids to follow their dreams. The cast members are recruited from all over South Africa; many come from rural areas and have little or no formal training. They are gifted singers, dancers, and musicians for whom music and dance are a natural part of life.

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