African rhythms stir students

Yesterday February 23rd, the Umdabu Dance Company performed at the Grand Room of WCU’s University Center. The event was sponsored by The Department of Intercultural Affairs and gathered an audience of more than thirty.

Veteran South African Dancer and artistic director Johannes “Jomo” Xulu started the performance with an introduction to the culture, nature and origin of The Umbadu Dance Company.

He gave an overview of the importance South African culture has had on American society. “This is Africa!” he shouted while the other four elements chanted softy by the rhythm of the characteristic Zulu drums.

The dance featured the ancient Zulu language and the aggressive and choreographically coordinated “stepping”, which originated the modern African American Step-Dancing.

At one point of the exhibition the dancers changed from their traditional costumes to portray mine workers. The show then proceeded with a mixture of acting performances. “They did it when the master turned his back to them” said Johannes while explaining the reasons behind the scowling facial expressions – “they were a show of frustration because of forced labor.”

The five-member ensemble was able to reach the audience in the most interactive way, stimulating them to experience the Zulu language with its distinct click consonants and trying some of the dance movements themselves.

Near the end, Johannes “Jomo” Xulu ended his lecture reminding everyone about the Zulu’s respect for nature.