The Kliptown Youth Program gumboot dancers from South Africa are returning to China this year after an amazingly successful first tour last October. They’ve expanded their numbers and scope in anticipation of this year’s schedule, and will be performing at multiple events in Shanghai and Bejing in the coming weeks. We absolutely insist you try to make it out in support of them wherever possible. Not only will you be supporting disadvantaged youth from a struggling township, but going by last year, you’re guaranteed plenty of rhythm, dance, and fun.
Kliptown is own of the oldest townships in South Africa, and faces enduring problems such as a lack of schools, clinics, electricity, proper sanitation, unemployment, teenage pregnancy and HIV-AIDS-related problems. In the face of these obstacles, it is the mission of the Kliptown Youth Program to eradicate poverty of mind, body and soul in the fight against the disadvantages imposed on the children of Kliptown. They offer education, sports and performance art programs, and provide a huge support to their community as a whole. They also help student buy school uniforms and pay university fees, and they offer meal-a-day programs and online resources for their student members.
Shelly Bragg is at the helm of the tour again this year, and believes the amazing success from last year will only grow over their second visit:
“In October 2010, 6 members of the Kliptown Youth Program (KYP) came on a gumboot dancing tour to China. We raised over RMB 80 000, which went to pay for their Grade 12 students’ university fees. However, our main aim for their tour was to raise awareness, and this was hugely successful, and we laid the foundations for long-term relationships to be built with organizations and individuals in China.
This time, however, there are 11 people coming, ranging from age of 12 to 30, children, women and men. We are reaching more people, making more connections, and allowing more people to touch the lives of those in need, in South Africa.
Not only is this an enjoyable tour for everyone that watches it, but it also the first overseas trip for many of the members traveling from South African. A chance for them to see and learn about a whole new culture, and to meet students and people in completely different walks of life to them. The benefits are unending.”
What is Gumboot Dance exactly? Here’s an explanation from Thando, one of the dancers from last year:
Gumboot dance has its origins in the mines of Capetown. The miners were not allowed to talk with one another so they developed a system where they would hit their boots. This soon became more than just a communication system as they started to incorporate dance and step into it.
The dance itself is very energetic with lots of rhythm and emotion. It combines a special technique of slapping the boots with traditional songs that the miners used to sing as well as other African beats. I can promise that you will not be disappointed. We want to show that South Africa has talent and its own style!
You have two opportunities to catch them in Shanghai this year. Cotton’s is hosting another huge Cocktails for Kliptown event for them on Saturday, November 12. More details on that to come, but we’ll just say now that it’ll include multiple dance performances, prizes, all-you-can-eat BBQ, drink specials, and another dinner date auction! (Last year Cotton herself was auctioned off for 4,000RMB!)
The other event will be a “South African Brunch” on Sunday, November 13 at the Westin. They have seats for 400, but even so they recommend booking in advance with the Westin.
Their tour this year includes performaces in 15 international schools in Shanghai and Beijing. Thanks in part to the huge help from their sponsors, GAC, Wine Discoveries, Cotton’s and Big Bamboo, they are fully booked from November 6th to the 30th. You can check out the gumboot dancers website here.
For more info on the tour or any questions you might have, you can email Shelley at [email protected]
Check out an overview of their 2010 tour: