Umoja: African dance explosion

18 February 2009

The history of South African music and dance is traced through the magnificent Africa Umoja, which played to critical acclaim in 28 countries before finding a permanent home in the revamped Victory Theatre complex in Johannesburg.

A multi-talented cast delivers a two-hour explosion of song and dance in a production that celebrates African culture as it moves through the journeys made by Africans from the country to the city, from traditional to modern, from the earliest rhythms to kwaito.

Zoopy TV: A hit musical worldwide, Africa Umoja finds its home in Johannesburg – and takes aim at becoming the longest-running show in South African history. Click arrow to play video.

As the dancers move from one sequence to the next, so their dance styles progress, each influencing the next, until in the end all styles are shown to have come from the same place: the music and drums of Africa.

In the flowing movements of the Venda Umashona (snake dance), the precision of Zulu stick fighting is mirrored; the sangoma chants like he is possessed by spirits, and the women shake their hips as no other nation can. By the end, the more modern dances, like kwaito and pantsula, have the audience clapping in joy.

Throughout the show, the drummers are well supported by a five-piece band and a passionate marimba-playing duo who never get a note wrong. The singers don’t miss a beat, the choreography is slick, the costumes are spot on and the energy is astonishing.

Africa Umoja plays at the 470-seat Victory Theatre on the corner of Woodlands Road and Louis Botha Avenue in Houghton Estate, Johannesburg.

The complex includes a jazz bar, a 250-seat restaurant serving a wide range of traditional dishes, and ample secure parking.

Performances are from Tuesdays to Saturdays at 8pm and at 3pm on Sundays. Tickets are available through Computicket or the theatre’s box office on +27 (0)11 728 9603. For more information, visit Africa Umoja.

Source: City of Johannesburg