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South African Dance & Letters to Mandela
Workshop with Denise Stephani

South African Dance Workshop participants will learn SA history, interesting facts and language as part of this dance workshop. Mandela loved to dance and used it during the struggle as a form of protest! The workshops can be adapted to all ages and abilities and also delivered as a Professional Development session for teachers.

West Lothian Street Moves group rehearsal with Denise centre-front
West Lothian Street Moves group in rehearsal with Denise centre-front

There is an award winning optional teaching resource - Letters to Mandela - with information about South Africa, Apartheid and Nelson Mandela.  The book includes wonderful art, writing and nonsense poems from South African/Scottish children on the subjects of famous peace efforts, conflict resolution and ending violence. This is dedicated to Nelson Mandela and the 20 year anniversary of the New South Africa.

Letters to Mandela book front cover

The different dance styles, traditional, Zulu Warrior, Gumboot, Pantsula and the modern Humba street dance routine are taught along a historical timeline showing the development of the dance styles and Western influences.  The modern Humba African Street routine was launched at Big Dance UK in 2012 as part of the Olympics.  It has fun, funky, cardio moves to African beat and techno rhythms.  Great for Health, African or Global Citizenship/Awareness theme weeks! Watch the video on YouTube or below.

Parts of this popular routine are taught in the workshop and learners often choose to perform it at assembly and school events.  This routine is going to be part of the Fife Aberdour Festival and Commonwealth Games celebrations in 2014. Participants would learn a simpler, shorter version of it and will be able to add their own moves into the dance-off section. 

Examples of Interesting Facts that students will learn

  • Gumboot dancing started on the mines of Johannesburg and was a combination of African Zulu Warrior dancing and Lederhosen dancing learnt from the German miners.  Africa meets Europe.
  • The gumboot dance and the comments shouted during it were used as a form of protest during Apartheid. Toyi-toyi was used in a similar way.  The people flash-mobbed their way to freedom long before it became internationally popular!
  • ‘Thank you’ in Afrikaans is ‘Baie dankie’.  Sounds like: 'Buy a donkey!' (Students love this)

Props Ideas

Students are welcome to bring their own props to add to the fun of the workshop:-

Gumboot and Pantsula dance

  • Wellies and brollies

Zulu Warrior and African Street

  • Bandanas (or even school ties) to tie around head and arms. 
  • Onesie/boiler suits/overalls (miner wear) with its arms tied around the waist is traditional - or combats and sleeveless t-shirts.
  • Whistles
  • Bells

Craft project idea and accessories:  

  • Bottle tops strung onto wire and tied around one of the welly boots
  • Drum for beat – can even be a gasoline tin or oil drum – or two empty tin cans.

African Dance Workshop flyer

Workshops offered:-

South African Dance & Mandela

South American Salsa

Seated Dance & Exercise

Dance Exercise & Body Conditioning

In the Wings  Domestic Violence & Abuse

Workshops tailored to your needs - contact Denise

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