Indigenous Dance Academy has had a wonderful year, and as it draws to a close, the Tembisa crew is taking the world by storm, one video at a time.
In the latest move, dancer and academy founder Jarrel Mathebula made a cameo appearance in the video for the single Gratitude, by 21-year-old British rapper Little Simz.
And he brought along skater Rayne Moses for the ride. Moses’ Nebula Skate is nurturing a whole new generation of black skaters – and smart ones too: his skaters have to complete their homework before they can get on their boards.
Indigenous Dance Academy offers young people an opportunity to literally dance their way out of poverty. The crew have appeared in music videos and advertisements, including the acclaimed video for Sons of Kemet’s In the Castle of My Skin.
Simz spoke to Redbull Amaphiko about her show in Khayelitsha, in Cape Town; Mathebula and Moses are Redbull Amaphiko social innovators.
“It was sick,” Simz said. “It was crazy to see how many people came out to see me… Where I performed was quite far out so people made a journey to see me, which was cool.
“Even though I rap fast, luckily they could all understand me. There was a local band that I watched for a while, jazz-influenced and rhythmic. The people were fly. It was cool to see how my music had migrated across the planet.”
SHOOTING THE VIDEO
Shot in Khayelitsha, the video gave Simz an opportunity to soak up the atmosphere and learn more about South Africa’s second largest township.
“I haven’t really digested it,” she said. “I’m still feeling high from it. Shooting a video out there was incredible; there was so much for me to take in, and I’m excited about it. I learned a lot from the DOP [director of photography] who was a local guy who broke down to me what was going on in Cape Town, in terms of politics and culture and that was cool.
“The shooting was good. We captured a lot of exciting people.”
She was aware of township culture, but seeing how people were really living “was crazy… It opened my eyes a lot. I was aware of it from being younger, but I’d never seen them first hand. My family are from Lagos, Nigeria, so the culture was different to what I’d seen before.”
On giving opportunities to a local project – specifically Indigenous Dance Academy and Nebula Skate – Simz said: “I believe in presenting opportunities and shedding light. Why not? There was a natural link to what I was doing. I knew I wanted dancers in the video and it just fell into place naturally. Jarrel and those guys were really good.”
TAKING ON THE WORLD
Mathebula and Moses were both stoked to be in the video. “I was super amped when I heard the track,” Moses said. “I could really relate to it and being in the video means we can share our story and inspire.”
Mathebula appreciated the fact that it showed to the youth that everything was possible.
“The experience was out of this world and humbling, having been a follower of Little Simz’ music,” he said. “I really enjoyed myself, showcasing my talent to the rest of the world.
“This is a great way to show the underprivileged youth from my community that you can achieve anything by believing in your dreams and working on sharpening your craft. There is a lot of negative influences that happen in South African townships and dance is our way of escaping the clutches of drugs and alcohol abuse, while growing as professional street dancers.”