Zulu dancing always inspires a sense of joy, awe and fear in me. The dancers are always happy and their voices always sing with joy, but the movements are aggressive and intimidating. The dancers are always passionate and it is always a pleasure to watch. Enjoy!
Growing up in South Africa meant being exposed to a lot of the local traditional cultures. Now that I live half a world a way I only get to see or experience this culture on television or, more recently, at cultural events like South Africa Day and Africa Day (which are now annual events in Taipei). So in 2010 when we went back to visit my father in Durban, we were lucky enough to stumble upon a Zulu dance at the Durban Botanical Gardens, one of my favorite places in Durban. The dancers were amazing and the little girl was espeically cute.
The dance was performed as part of the fesitivities for a company relaunch as is explained by the lady in the beginning of the video below and therefore we were lucky enoug to see it for free. However, since it was a company relaunch the dancers were all dressed in the colors of the company and with the exception of one boy, nobody wore any traditional dress. The only dancer in traditional dress is shown below.
The dancers really got into it and there was a lot of intensity shown by all of them. Apart from the seriousness and intensity which they put into the dance, they all seemed to have a lot of fun doing it. This made it extra special.
Zulu dancing is very intense and, as per Queenie, can be a little scary. I remember years ago when I first took Queenie back to South Africa, we met a white South African man who grew up with the Zulu and knew how to dance as well as any Zulu. He explained that when he was a young man they would dance so hard in the hostels on the weekend that they would "piss blood". The reason being their legs crash down from behind their head onto concrete floors. At this event the dancers were dancing on grass and were not as aggressive but still the raising of the leg behind the head and crashing it down onto the ground requires a remarkable level of flexibility. I have tried to do this before (I am sure it was comical for those watching) and it is tough.
The other impressive element of this dancing was the collective movement of the group. They seemed to remain in relatively good time without deviating too much.
Of course a Zulu dance wouldn't be a Zulu dance without the beat of a drummer. There was single drummer for this group of dancers and she helped the dancers keep their beat.
The dance went on for quite a while and after a while the dancers started to challenge me by coming up really close and kicking their legs up at me. I just stood my ground and filmed. They loved it! Queenie and I had an awesome time watching them. For Queenie it was a very special experience. She has seen this type of dancing before but not with so many people together at once. Anyway, enjoy the video below.
We had an awesome time watching this dance and I hope you enjoyed the pictures and the video above. Look forward to your comments as always.
About this Series:
During Chinese New Year 2010, we headed off to South Africa to visit friends and family. These blog posts are short accounts of some of the things we did and appear in random, not chronological order. We are doing these blogs a year later and they seem like a distant wonderful dream. We had an awesome time and hope to go back as soon as possible.