Township youth to perform on European stage

Doreen Mokgolo

An award-winning youth dance group from Katlehong in Ekurhuleni will be flying the South African flag high in Europe with their latest dance production called Via Injabulo.

The show was inspired by the Covid-19 pandemic and will be showing in theatres in July and August.

The Via Katlehong group of eight members – four male and four female gumboot and pantsula dancers – collaborated with Portugal and French choreographers.

The co-director of the group, Buru Mohlabane, said that the production will premiere on 3 July at the Juli Dance show in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

They will then proceed to France where they have seven performances in the Festival d’Avignon, one of the biggest festivals in Europe, where world-class dancers will be showcasing their talent.

“Our work is appreciated mostly in Europe. This is where we get a lot of bookings and are able to earn a living,” said Mohlabane.

“During the Covid-19 recess we could not work or travel. This forced us to explore our artistic talents through writing plays. This show is one of the results.”

The group was formed by David Mohlane 30 years ago with the aim of keeping young people off the dangerous streets during the apartheid regime.

They offer training to young people who want to become professional dancers, especially in gumboot, pantsula, and contemporary dance styles.

Mohlabane joined the group 22 years ago. It has afforded him the opportunity to travel the world, showcasing his talent to an international audience.

“The stage is my home and since joining the group I have been able to express myself fully.

“It is unfortunate that our talent is more appreciated in Europe than it is in South Africa but we are hoping for change,” he said.

They specialise in pantsula, a South African township dance, and other neo-traditional forms such as gumboots, tap pantsula and steps – a township interpretation of gumboot dance.

The Via Katlehong group have won various awards which include FNB Vita Dance, Dance Umbrella awards, Gauteng Dance Showcase, KTV Most Brilliant Achievement and Gauteng MEC Development Award amongst others.

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