The culture of Pantsula from South Africa

Under the Apartheid regime, in the 1960s and 1970s, pantsula emerged in South Africa. At that time, a majority of the rural population has been forcibly moved to the townships. These areas of very precarious housing on the outskirts of cities where unemployment and crime prevail. It is in this real reservoir of suffering, with a rage to express itself that the Pantsula was born. It’s very often called the dance thugs.

The culture of Pantsula, like hip hop ones, claims to lifestyle covering, music, dance, gestural codes, language … to which young ghettos identify themselves.

Via Katlethong Dance Company

Via Katlehong Dance Company, Ambassadors of South African Townships

In 1992, Buru Mohlabane, Mdoyi Sawi and Steven Faleni teamed up to a company called Katlehong Dance Company in the township of Katlehong.

The goal of this company was to pull back criminality of young people by initiating them to dance in their daily lives. It’s important to notify that Katlehong is one of the most dangerous townships in South Africa. Through dance classes and art, young people could forget the social problems and the environment in which they lived. It was also a way to prevent some of them to get into drugs.

As a result, this project has grown beyond expectations and has become an « ambassador » for the townships. The founder of the companies were forced to take over the role of spokesperson for this youth, eager for a better future and suffering from discrimination. Today, Via Katlehong Company Dance is part of the international choreographic landscape and has many successes around the world. Some things almost unimaginable for the three founders of the troupe at the time of the creation of the project.

Via Katlehong Dance Company, a unified mix of South African dances

The dancers of the company came from the different cultures of South Africa. The nine regions of the country are represented with its own particularity. But to survive in the township, it was necessary to unite around common ideals. This culture has been called « isi-pantsula ». It is a urban dance protest that tells the daily life. Via Katlehong Dance Company has become popularized by the Pantsula dance are spearhead. Then, the group decided to mix this dance of the township with the traditional dances of Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho cultures … but also with the gumboot dance, a dance which takes its name from the rubber boots of the miners on which they tapped while dancing during strikes to express their dissatisfaction.