Category: Woza (1)
Late April holds a major anniversary date for South Africa: Freedom Day, celebrated on April 27th, memorializes the country’s first democratic elections, and 2009 marks the fifteenth anniversary of Freedom Day. This year, the South African holiday was all the more significant as it coincided with the country’s fourth general election.
Peak Performances celebrates this milestone in South Africa’s history by hosting Via Katlehong Dance, formed in 1992 in the “old” South Africa and named for the Katlehong township near Johannesburg. The company’s piece, Woza (translated as the invitation “come”), will be given its U.S. premiere as the final work in the Peak Performances 2008-2009 season.
In Woza, twelve performers present a combination of dance forms, the most contemporary of which, Pantsula, is a South African township urban dance similar to the American hip-hop tradition. Pantsula is mixed with the older Gumboot dancing that originated as a workingman’s dance in the 1950s. These two distinct styles are then filtered through tap dance, which should give some idea of the aggressive and vibrant quality of the movement. This hybrid dance form, which Via Katlehong calls “mogaba,” uses the dancers’ entire bodies: stamping feet, hand clapping, and rhythmic shouts.