There was a time when one thought of dancers then images of bare-breasted female dancers and men clad in Zulu traditional regalia, performing for foreign tourists at some resort, formed in your mind.
However, dance over the years has since metamorphosed into a complex web of artistic narrative that cuts deep into the complex nature of the society that we live in, dissecting it and showing its ugliness, beauty, diversity and its contradiction using body language.
Dance has become so mainstream, so complex, so wide and so refined that dancers, particularly black dancers, have steadily wormed their way into the mainstream of dance in a spectacular way.
From contemporary dance to classical dance, black dancers have joined their white counterparts in putting South Africa on the global dance map.
In terms of the classical dance landscape, one needs to look at the composition of the country's leading dance companies such as the Ballet Theatre Afrikan and the South African Ballet Theatre (SABT) to see the extent to which black dancers are contributing in defining the modern South African dance narrative.
Ketty Phetla, from Alexandra township, and Thoriso Magongwa from Soweto, are two of the company's principal dancers. At SABT, Lorna Maseko, Monde Mashiqa and Andile Ndlovu are making waves in the company. In terms of contemporary dance, countless practitioners from the townships actually dominate this sector. Gregory Maqoma, the director of Vuyani Dance Theatre, is a classic example.
After its premiere at the FNB Dance Umbrella last year, Beautiful Me, a dance piece by Maqoma, has travelled the world wooing international audiences.
Beautiful Me has since January 25 been performing in Paris, France. It will be performed until tomorrow.
Those who have been following contemporary dance will attest to the fact that choreographer and dancer Nelisiwe Xaba has in recent years proved to be one of the dominant and influential dance figures in the country. She is currently making waves in Paris as a dancer.
She will present a dance piece at the 20th FNB Dance Umbrella which kicks off on February 16. The piece will be performed at the Dance Factory in Newtown on March 7 and 8.