Jump to navigation Jump to search


Dance, theatre and performance

Dance and Physical Theatre

Dance and dancing in South Africa

The history of dance and related forms in South Africa

Specific Dance Forms in South Africa

Gumboot dance

The gumboot dance (or isicathulo) is an African dance that is performed by dancers wearing Wellington boots. In South Africa these are more commonly called gumboots.

The boots may be embellished with bells, so that they ring as the dancers stamp on the ground. This sound would be a code or a different calling to say something to another person a few distances away.It was basically used as their language in the mining grounds.

The dance likely originated among South African gold miners [1], and especially among their tough working conditions ( obscurity , dampness, ...). Many of the steps and routines are parodies of the officers and guards who controlled the mines and workers' barracks.[citation needed] Like other forms of African dance, Gumboot utilizes the concepts of polyrhythm and total body articulation, drawing from the cultural dances of the African workers that manned the mines.[2] It is a percutant dance made by idiophones or autophones (objects of the everyday life vibrating by themselves), and is similar in execution and style to forms of "Stepping" done by African-American fraternities and sororities.

Today gumboot dancers are commonly sighted on the streets and plazas of tourist areas in South Africa, such as the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. It is still used today by some miners.

For more see Wikipedia


A dance which evolved among the Griqua people of the northern Cape. Clearly related to and possibly based on the Scottish and Irish reel dance traditions, the Riel or Rieldans is a traditional dance of the Griqua, dating from the 19th century or even earlier. Also known among other peoples in the Western Cape region, including Afrikaners. ??


Literally tranlated this is "folk games", but actually refers to the formal folk dances developed for the white Afrikaans-speaking population by *** and S.H. Pellissier in 193* as part of the development of an Afrikaans cultural heritage. In fact this was an entirely artificial exercise, since there had never really been a widely established tradition of dance among the white Dutch/Afrikaans-speaking population, beyond the social dance practices known throughout the Empire. Created to establish an identity for the emerging "Afrikaner nation" - particularly during the flush of patriotism engendered by the 1938 centenary celebrations for the Great Trek, the dances and music were derived from forms and examples found in the European countries of origin (mainly Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands *?). According to Pellissier, he had been impressed by Swedish folk dance during a visit in 1912, and began to translate the songs into Afrikaans (1914). Utilising his position as educator - and aided by miss A.M. Köhler and miss M.E.J. Coetzee at the Teacher's Training College in Bloemfontein, he became systematically involved in this project in the 1930's. A volkspele costume was also designed, ostensibly based on the dress of the original "voortrekkers", including men in colourful waistcoats and women in long dresses and kappies (bonnets).** It was all part of a larger process initiated by the historical and cultural writings of Gustav Preller, **, **, P.J. Meyer, H.B. Thom, F.C.L. Bosman, P.J. Nienaber and others, all seeking to define the Afrikaner identity and culture. It devloped alongside and as part of such other cultural movements as the Voortrekkers (the "pioneers”, a South African version of the scouts), *. The volkspele costume became symbolic of the Afrikaner history, and the dances and songs themselves part of the mythology. As such they occurred in numerous pllys, pageants and other festive activities focussed on the celebration of Afrikaans culture. A network of Volkspele groups were formed among the youth throughout the country, competitions were set up and gatherings ("saamtrekke") held to enhance a sense of solidarity and idnetity. The heyday of the volkspele movement appears to have been between 1938 and 1961, for by the 1940's they had created a Uniale Raad van Volkspele ( "Union-wide Council for Folk Dance") in association with the Reddingsdaadbond, to organize, teach and promote Volkspele in the country.


See Toyi-toyi

Relationship between dance, theatre and performance in South Africa

Dance and Physical Theatre in South Africa

Dance competitions in South Africa

Return to South African Theatre Terminology and Thematic Entries

Return to Main Page