Diverse cultures share one stage in name of art
FROM the time you enter the theatre, the thumping beats of traditional instruments captivates you - from the rouleur, caïmbre and sati to the bobre and malbar drums.
The lead singer sings beautifully in his native language and 10 dancers emerge flaring their pantsula moves and fusing them with other dance styles, including tap, sbhujwa and African cotemporary as they easily glide to the creole melodies.
Umqombothi Kabar is the name of the production and they had their last show under the Arts Alive Dance Umbrella programme at the Market Theatre last weekend.
The show is a collaboration of a Katlehong township-based dance group Via Katlehong and traditional instruments from Lindigo, a band from Reunion.
The Lindigo crew have roots in Madagascar, Mauritius, Reunion and India and share some African genes from Mozambique and South Africa.
It was three years ago, when Via Katlehong were performing in a township on the island, that they met Lindigo.
"We were so impressed with the Lindigo performances that we decided to join in on a jamming session," lead dancer Vusi Mdoyi said.
After getting a positive response from the audience; both crews decided to come together and create a dance production.
They practiced for three weeks for the production and have performed in Durban, Katlehong and at the Arts Alive Festival.
The show revolves around issues of identity as they celebrate similarities of both countries' cultures in scenes like the sharing of umqombothi on occasions presented by a dancer Xolani Qwabe and the lead singer Oliver Arase.
Other similarities include making solemn request to the ancestors as well as a sangoma calling, referred to as a spiritual kabary, on Reunion.
The audiences were blown away by the energy of the Via Katlehong dancers and could not resist swaying to the various tunes of the Lindigo band.
A great interaction was established with the crowd as the audience clapped and one brave man got to share his sleek moves with the crew on stage.
There was a female member in each group, Lorraine from Lindigo, who played the strings and was the group's translator, and Lebogang from the South African crew, whose pantsula moves matched brilliantly with those of her male counterparts.
Overall there was a great display of dance and music and the beautiful mix of the diverse cultures sharing one stage in the name of great artistic work.