Drawing To A Close

It’s getting close to the end of the summer, and I must say I have enjoyed every bit of my research. I researched so much information that I had to finally just stop myself and say, “Olivia, you’ve got enough. Time to write.” I have decided to allow my research to culminate in a paper, which I will soon outline in this post. In no manner do I plan to stop my work here. My mind has been consumed by ideas of dance and apartheid and finding out how choreographers and dancers used their craft to fight an evil regime. I’m thinking that in the future, I may further my research and use it to fuel choreography for an Orchesis show next year.


So far, the working title for my paper will be Kusinwa Kudedelwana. As mentioned in a previous post, this is a Zulu proverb meaning, “You dance and then let go.” And that is essentially what this paper is about. South African dancers and choreographers have used their craft to cope with Apartheid, fight Apartheid, and heal from Apartheid.


In my introduction, I will outline a few past examples of dance used as social commentary and resistance and why dance used in this way is so important. To begin the presentation of my ideas, I will then go into the history of South African dance before Apartheid. This will include the indigenous styles and how dance was so involved in daily life. Many societal rites and rituals included dances and everyday dance emulated everyday activities. I will also emphasize the interconnectedness of music and dance via exploration of the Isicathamiya style of song and dance (where Lady Smith Black Mambazo had their beginnings).


Next I will give an overview of Apartheid – how it began, some of its workings, and the laws at the heart of it. Then I will explore how the laws and prejudice affected the dance community. I will look at how South African dance changed from its own style into something more European.  Most importantly, I will delve deeply into who used dance to combat Apartheid and how they did it.


Thereafter I will detail the end of the Apartheid, including the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the end of segregation laws. I will bounce around in the paradox of how much the end of Apartheid really changed the hearts of South Africans as opposed to just changing the laws. This will then lead into discussion of dance post-Apartheid. I’ll look at how the style began to reincorporate elements of traditional and native South African dance. I will then show how right after Apartheid, and even now, dance has been used to heal the wounds inflicted by the discrimination of Apartheid. Then I will get into how the issues dance addresses has expanded from just Apartheid into the entirety of the social and political realms, such as HIV/AIDS.


The last thing I will discuss before I conclude my paper is the role that dance has played in the lives of South African youth and how they use dance. Youth are reviving lost traditional dances, and taking up all styles of dance to use as healthy method of expression as the first generation to survive Apartheid. I will then highlight my experience working with the kids in Khayelitsha while I was in Cape Town. I’ll finish up the paper by talking about the future and hope I see for South African dance.


I have really enjoyed this research experience. The month I spent in Cape Town literally changed my life (yes it’s corny), and all my research information has given me something new to be passionate about and taught me to love learning all over again. I hope everyone had as much of good time as I did!


  1. Jacob Sprang says:

    Olivia, this is very interesting. It’s fascinating to see how cultural elements, like dance, can heal communities after injustices like the apartheid. I know sport has been used in the same way. I can’t wait to see your findings at the Research showcase!