Playhouse Company - Unity in diversity â€
Playhouse Company - Unity in diversity â€" The Playhouse Company’s INGOMA competition adopts social cohesion theme:The Keeper of the Kumm

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Playhouse Company - Unity in diversity â€" The Playhouse Company’s INGOMA competition adopts social cohesion theme


The Playhouse Company’s 5th INGOMA competition is this year set to be even more than an exciting annual Zulu dance competition; it has adopted the themes of unity in diversity and social cohesion for what is set to be an exhilarating day-long explosion of culture. 

Taking place at the SJ Smith (eWema) Stadium in Lamontville on Saturday 19 March from 09h00, the competition will see not only Zulu dance groups from far and wide competing for prizes, trophies and prestige, but also a diverse selection of performers from many of South Africa’s different cultures.  The total prize money offered is R129,600.00 

“We at The Playhouse Company celebrate the performing arts traditions of all of South Africa’s many and diverse cultures. But while we may come from diverse groups, we also wish to emphasise the importance of social cohesion and unity, in which we wish to play a significant role. To that end, this year, The Playhouse Company’s INGOMA competition will see a wealth of talent from not only Zulu dance groups, but also from a number of other cultural groups, all of whom will be engaged in celebrating our differences while fostering unity among our people,” said The Playhouse Company’s CEO and Artistic Director, Ms Linda Bukhosini. 

This thrilling event will see colourful, dedicated, energetic Zulu dance groups competing in the various Zulu dance style categories, as well as special featured performers from different cultural origins such as Indian dance group, Nateshwar Dance Academy, The Congo Kwasakwasa Dancers, The Keeper of the Kumm from Namaqualand, Burundian drummers, with whom the Kumm dancers will collaborate, and other popular artforms from the African continent.

The Keeper of the Kumm is a novel (being published later this year by Tafelberg), a feature documentary and a musical theatre adaptation of an epic story. ‘Kumm’ is the word for ‘story’ in the now extinct /Xam language of the Bushman people. The story follows the journey of a sceptical city journalist who is forced to follow the ancestral call of //Kabbo, a 19th Century Bushman rainmaker. In recent times, there has been a revival of the traditional cultures of the Khoe and the San, South Africa’s First Nations. The Kumm dancers echo the essence of this revival with dance that combines modern passion with ancient art-forms like the Rieldans and Nama Stap. 

At this year’s INGOMA competition, the Kumm dancers will make their international preview performance debut with a dance piece choreographed for The Keeper of the Kumm by acclaimed choreographer, Alfred Hinkel, winner of the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) Lifetime Award in 2015. The dancers are members of Hinkel’s and John Linden’s Garage Dance Ensemble of O’Kiep in the Namaqualand. INGOMA audiences can look forward to an extremely exciting and fascinating performance from the Kumm dancers. The Keeper of the Kumm musical theatre project will open at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in June this year, and then go on to tour South Africa.

The Congo Kwasakwasa Dancers is a group formed by Congolese refugees living in Howick in KZN in order to pass the time and entertain their friends. Kwassa kwassa (or kwasa kwasa) is a music sub-genre of soukous, and a dance rhythm from the Democratic Republic of Congo that started in the 1970s where the hips move back and forth, while the hands move to follow the hips. It was very popular in Africa in the late 1980s. The words ‘kwassa kwassa’ are said to perhaps have come from the French quoi ça? (what is it?). The dance was created by Pepe Kalle and popularized by his soukous music videos, as well as the videos of Kanda Bongo Man, Viva La Musica, and other Congolese musicians.

The MCs for the day will be Zimiphi ‘Zim Dollar’ Biyela and Mdu Jali. Admission to the event is FREE. 

In isiZulu, the word “ingoma” literally translates as “anthem’’, but nowadays tends to refer to the many and varied dance styles that exist within Zulu culture, particularly in the competitive arena. Groups who enter the competition will be judged on their performances in the following six dance style categories: oMama Besigekle, uShameni, Ingoma Yesinsizwa, Ingoma Yezintombi, Ingoma Sekhuze and Indlamu. 

Traditionally, each particular dance is performed by specific people of a particular age, gender and status, and at a particular time or period such as a season or a month or an event such as a wedding. Body position and movements are highly specific to the particular dance style and region. In fact, even within a region such as KZN, dance styles may vary from village to village. Dance among Zulu people is said to operate similarly to language and as a medium through which to communicate history.

The six Zulu dance styles are performed as follows:

OMAMA BESIGEKLE:This dance is performed by women, preferably married women. It was an alternative to Amahubo, which was performed by men when they were chanting to the ancestors in the kraal. Women were not allowed to be part of Amahubo, so they created their own dance, isigekle. It is performed in different ceremonies by women, including weddings.

The dance is accompanied by a group of young singers who sing, clap and beat the drums. The dancers do not raise their feet too high to show respect. The women wear Isicholo (head gear) and isidwaba (traditional skirts), and they carry small shields and knobkerries. Each group has a specific theme and colour scheme to their costumes.

USHAMENI: This dance is named after the Shameni River in Umsinga in KwaZulu-Natal. The style was formed during the time when railways were being built in the province. It is a variation of Ingoma yezinsizwa mixed with Indlamu, but with a regional flair. Izinqambi were responsible for creating the songs. They also lead the songs during the dance. Igosa leads the dance. Originally there were no drums in Isishameni dance.

The leg of the dancer is bent during the dance to show the ankle. The dancers dance in specific line formations, and they stretch their hands up high during the dance, which is accompanied by singers who clap.

The dancers’ costumes consist of pants and vests or t-shirts because when the dance first started, the men would use whatever clothing they were wearing at the time. They also wear traditional sandals (udabuluzwane).

INGOMA YESINSIZWA: The most common type of Ingoma yezinsinzwa. The dance is accompanied by singers who also clap. The beating of a big drum was added later in the dance. It is a very traditional dance form that can be seen in the use of traditional costumes including Ibheshu and dancing barefoot. The dance is used during young men’s rites of passage, weddings and traditional ceremonies. It is a very competitive dance that is full of excitement.

In terms of body posture, the leg has to be straight when you dance and must reach the side of the ears. The dancers carry shields and decorated sticks. Igosa will start the dance and ispani will follow suit.

INGOMA YEZINTOMBI: This dance is specific to maidens. It was used during different types of rites of passages for young girls, from the time they reach puberty, to virgin testing, lobola and weddings.

The dance is accompanied by drums, clapping, singing and the music is very energetic. The costume consists of traditional skirts made of colourful beads. The leg needs to be raised high.

INGOMA SIKHUZE:  This dance is another variation of Ingoma yezinsizwa. This one was originally from the Umbumbulu region. It became popular after the arrival of the missionaries. There is a pattern called isifuba which is in the centre. Isifuba consist of those who are more experienced. It is supported by Isipani who shadow whatever is done by Isifuba. The costume consists of long thigh-length socks with stripes. They also wear short skirts. Some wear rugby shorts.

The leg is not raised very high in this dance. The dancers carry shields and traditional sticks which are also used to create formations. The dance is accompanied by singers and a lot of hand-clapping (ukukhwahla). There is also igoso which leads the dance.

INDLAMU: This is a war dance that was introduced by Shaka Zulu to the warriors. It was a like a military drill that required precision, with the dancers following a specific pattern. It is accompanied by drums with minimal singing. This dance was specific to Amabutho (warriors) to help them prepare for battle.

Igosa also leads Isipani and can do solo performances. There is a lot of showing off with this type of dance as it was necessary to psyche warriors up for battle. There is also a lot whistling to encourage whoever is dancing at the time. The music that accompanies it has war themes. The dancers carry bigger shields and longer sticks. 

For further information about this event, please call Khulekani Kunene on (031) 369 9440 or visit



For press enquiries & images, contact Franki Hills, Marketing & Communications Co-ordinator.

Telephone: (031) 369 9405.  Email:

Source of information on dance styles: Mr Xolani Bonginkosi Ellias Zondo

Playhouse Company - Unity in diversity â€" The Playhouse Company’s INGOMA competition adopts social cohesion theme

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