Eastern Cape dance ensemble has all the right moves

The Eastern Cape Indigenous Music and Dance Ensemble are part of the Virtual National Arts Festival’s main programme to air until July 16.
The Eastern Cape Indigenous Music and Dance Ensemble are part of the Virtual National Arts Festival’s main programme to air until July 16.
Image: SUPPLIED

Holding the fort in the dance category of the province’s showcase at the virtual National Arts Festival are the Eastern Cape Indigenous Music and Dance Ensemble, who present a fusion of music and dance in indigenous storytelling.

A project of the Eastern Cape sport, recreation, arts and culture department, the intergenerational ensemble showcases vibrant traditional dance styles across different cultural tribes in the province.

These include AbaThembu, Amabomvana, Amampondo and amaBaca.    

Ensemble choreographer Mandilakhe Gwashu, from Port Elizabeth, said they had managed to put together a proudly Eastern Cape show, despite having limited time to prepare for the festival.

We normally have about three to four weeks to prepare for the show but because of Covid-19, we didn’t have that [amount of] time to prepare for this year’s show

“We normally have about three to four weeks to prepare for the show but because of Covid-19, we didn’t have that [amount of] time to prepare for this year’s show,” Gwashu said.

He said the virtual festival was more challenging than previous festivals as performers had to perform in empty venues and prerecord their performances.

“The virtual festival was very different and challenging because you don’t [get] to see who is watching your show.

“As a performer or sports person you get more inspired when you actually feel the presence of the spectators or audience but with a virtual show it’s a different story — you don’t know who is watching or not and don’t even get that opportunity to meet other artists and have face-to-face conversations with them about their craft,” Gwashu said.  

The groups performance theme is “Dancing with my Past”, featuring modern styles such as contemporary dance by the younger dancers.

“People [who havent watched the show yet] can expect to see a vibrant show that showcases different dances from amaXhosa and their sub tribes of the Eastern Cape,” Gwashu said.

The Eastern Cape Indigenous Music and Dance Ensemble is a project established in 2000 by the late Vukile Sipoko, Dalu Papu and Xolani Sibuta. It is now led by Nkoi Matshoba.

The show is 80  minutes long. Tickets cost R35.


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