– By NoLIFE
I never thought I would have to be standing outside a jazz restaurant to witness South Africa’s heritage manifest; dressed in red All-stars, red Dikies, white t-shirts, and the classic Spoti (or bucket hat if you wish) moving in a single file formation, carrying a usb speaker with bass so loud it could make the heart appear to flat line.
They set up around the corner, I moved closer to get a better perspective. To the delight of my eyes, I was witnessing amaPantsula, intellectuals Pantsula live, in the streets, where the culture was born.
The crew has been featured on the TV show Rhythm City
The Intellectuals Pantsulas have performed at the Soweto Arts and Crafts Fair, Red carnival, Soweto Opening Tennis Tournament and Back to the City. They have also been featured on the television show Rhythm City. Other appearances include Skrillex’s ‘Ragga Bomb’ Music video.
Pantsula dance is a mixture of fast paced footwork and acrobatics like back flips, side flips handstands and a bit of breakdancing. Pantsula dance requires a balance in coordination and time. The Jozi invasion project is a display of these acrobatic abilities and classic pantsula moves of speedy footwork.
What is so intellectual about these pantsulas?
The crew was started by Teboho Diphehlo and Leballo Lenela in 2013. It grew from six members but now has 10. Teboho explains that they are called Intellectuals Pantsula “because it’s the mind that tells the body to do amazing things”.
teboho said what separates intellectuals pantsula from the other pantsula groups is that “there is innovation in the dance, while other groups have cliche dance moves”. Teboho also says “I have respect for the other groups. The innovative aspect of creating their dance moves is what makes them intellectuals. Through this innovative thinking they were able to defeat Hip Hop Crew “Supreme I Crew”, Bujwa Crew “Solistic Fusion” and break dancers “Most wanted” in one competition.
Tebogo started dancing after being inspired by a pantsula named Sthembiso. He said that he used dance as a way to distance himself from the township rivalries between young people in Zola and Emndeni. “Pantsula made me a role model,” Teboho said.
Teboho says they’ve been giving dance classes, twice a week, to young people in Naledi. To remain sustainable, Teboho says they use the Naledi Recreation Centre for free, which keeps their running costs low. They make money from touring the city and doing pop-up shows outside spaces like Nicki’s Jazz Restaurant in Newtown.
Building and giving back to the Community.
This year the crew started their Jozi Invasion Project. He explained: “Jozi invation is a project that seeks to promote pantsula and show audiences that there are young people using this performance art and their passion as a way to make money”
Jozi invasion encompasses an age old art with new flair, audiences are captivated by the dynamic performances of the young group of pantsula dancers. Aside from the performative aspect of the invasion. It serves as as an activation to get more young people interested in Pantsula dance. The move to start the Jozi Invasion came long after the group had performed in prominent spaces. Jozi invasion progresses beyond the element of the pantsula dance.
Jozi Invasion is also dedicated to hosting weekly sessions, dance competitions and battles – further promoting musicians as well. The aim of the project is coupled with and attempt to make a positive change within the communities, and create a positive attitude towards Pantsula as a lifestyle.
The intellectuals Pantsula shake the earth with their street performances, they are likely to catch you off-guard when you least expect it. And one fact remains in life, Pantsula is compelling and hard to resist when you are watching it live.