pantsula…. dancing the edges alexia webster

December 17, 2010 § 1 Comment

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Pantsula emerged in the 1950’s and 60’s in townships around South Africa. It was initially a style of dress often associated with tsotsi’s (gangsters) but grew into a culture, a way of life. Eventually this cultural expression extended into a performance and a dance form.

By the 1980’s , when townships were erupting in resistance to Apartheid, the police and army went to war against young kids in the streets, Pantsula dance had become an entertaining and satirically subversive form of grass roots expression. It was a commentary on the social and political issues that people were facing, a form of resistance.

It continues to play that role. Its a voice from the margins. A voice on the periphery on South Africa’s hall’s of power and offers opportunities to these young men on the fringes who otherwise have had very little support.

These photographs are the first from an ongoing project exploring the ritual of becoming visible through Pansula dance.

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