Pantsula crew goes global


dance---textThe Indigenous Dance Academy practicing in Tembisa. (Images: Redbull Amaphiko)

The Indigenous Dance Academy (IDA) is making waves internationally with its choreography on display in a new music video by Sons of Kemet, the British jazz band and winner of a Music of Black Origin award.

The IDA is a community-based dance project in Tembisa, in Ekurhuleni, that aims to solve social problems through dance.


Its pantsula crew was filmed earlier this year for the video. Sons of Kemet’s front man, Shabaka Hutchings, had seen the dancers during his yearly visits to South Africa.

Pantsula is a highly energetic dance form that originated in the black townships of South Africa during the apartheid era.

“I’ve been interested in the synthesis of Sons of Kemet’s music with African dance for a while,” Hutchings, an award-winning saxophonist, composer and bandleader, told news site Redbull Amaphiko. “The challenge was always to find a dance style which portrayed the same aesthetic as our music and wasn’t simply pasting one genre upon another.”

Sons-of-kemet---textThe band Sons of Kemet.

Once he saw pantsula dancers, he said, he knew it would fit with the band’s music.

“Indigenous Dance Academy’s mission is to provide dancers with an artistic education that fosters excellence in all forms of street dance,” explained IDA founder Jarrel Mathebula. “The key goal for the academy is to instil in its dancers a desire to have a positive influence within their community.”

Dancing to jazz was a first for the group and they welcomed the new experience.

“We’re not used to dancing to jazz but this opportunity got us out of our comfort zone,” said Mathebula. “I had to learn about Sons of Kemet through their music and feel them through their art and I fell in love with the song 30 seconds in.”


The academy was born out of the realisation that Tembisa youth faced a battery of social ills, such as drugs and alcohol abuse, peer pressure and petty crime, and teenage pregnancy. A lack of art centres and extramural activities at schools also meant the youngsters in the area were susceptible to these evils.

“The project is a movement for youth lead by youth for young people who are excluded from learning due to poverty, political unrest, discrimination or cultural bias,” explained Mathebula. “This is led by young people with the belief in the power of social connectivity and a passion to drive change.”