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  • Thuthukani Ndlovu

ITOYI TOYI

// "A dance that got tired" // The first production we watched in 2020 //

Wattup wattup. Hope you are thriving through the week. This article is a bit late, but it's better late than never right? Now please note this is not an extensive review of the production (you can read a more detailed review by Tshiamo Malatji on Art State here). This is just my overview from my perspective as an audience member and blogger. There was no way that I was not gonna tell you about the first production I watched for this year - not just because it was a great show, but because we haven't been talking about local productions on the blog, so what better way to start with talking about iToyi Toyi.


This show was directed by the prominent Masedi Godfrey Manenye, with music by Bloem's very own Afro Jazz pianist Andile Qongqo, and Choreography by the founder and director of Fresh Conceptz, Mr Bongani Zulu. The date was the 31st of January, and we were waiting for the hands of time to bring us together at 6pm at the Civic theater here in Bloemfontein, at the cost of R30 for a ticket to the show. I had rocked up to the venue after work, and was delighted to meet a number of familiar faces who I had expected to see there (such as Naledy and IceBound, but I was also delighted to see Dr Jerry Mofekeng in the building too). I was joined by a close friend, and we eventually got to experience the show together.



The acting was on point - but of course it was right - I was just really fascinated by how the different characters emulated different genres in the various scenes, while portraying the influence of music and dance in the South African political sphere so well. The introduction featured a typical elder in society playing with his granddaughter, but also making an effort to advise her in a manner that seemed to guide her ambitions and inquisitiveness. The gist of the production then exposed us to how poetry, iToyi Toyi (for those not familiar with the dance, it's a Southern African dance that has become synonymous with protests and liberation struggles), certain music genres as well as dances like Vosho (which is an energetic dance move which has gained infamy in recent years, and can be described as doing squats, with rhythm and was popular among the youth) have in one way or the other influenced politics. Come to think of it, I can't remember the last time I saw a video/ someone doing the Vosho. lol Back to the production. There were elements of humour, alongside elements that could make one reminisce about the past when music and dance were predominantly used as tools for protests. I personally don't think much has changed, because whenever we hear of protests today, there's almost a guarantee that there will be toyi toying involved, however it's also quite easy to notice how some political leaders have always managed to identify and make use of trending music genres/ dances to support their campaigns, and of course not excluding the imbongis as well.


[Photo cred: Mudboots Photography]


The production does not offer a far fetched perspective of the current South African government, but rather one that the audience would most probably resonate with very well. It almost felt like a reminder of how different political leaders have tried to lead the country over the past few decades, but constantly failed due to a conflict of motives. One of the scenes also spoke to how Christianity had an influence in some of the decisions made by political leaders. Interesting. The musical component of the show featured popular songs that are kind of synonymous with the songs that comrades lead protestors, and I think it was a nice touch to the end of the show when the cast led the audience in singing the popular rendition (and my favorite version) of Nkosi Sikelel'iAfrika.


In conclusion, I really enjoyed the show. It had its hiccups here and there, but it was worth the 40+ minutes of my time. I definitely look forward to attending more productions in the near future, especially ones like this one. Great acting and singing, an easy to follow storyline, the cast managed to use the simplicity of the stage design and props well (although I would suggest that they relook at how they can project the video they played during the production a bit better), and yeah, that's my side of the story. I can't wait to watch the next production happening in Bloemfontein, and hopefully we'll bump into each other soon. Peace out, and much love fam. @2tukani

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