Loud, proud and exuberantly African

Loud, proud and exuberantly African

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Ten years ago African Footprint burst onto stage as a lively, lovely musical bubbling over with infectious enthusiasm.

A decade later its power to delight hasn’t diminished. It’s as vibrant and captivating as ever, and so what if I’ve already seen it five times, I still sucked up every minute with glee.

African Footprint is really making a song and dance about nothing at all except being proudly African. And right now with the World Cup unfolding that’s a good enough reason to celebrate.

The highlight as ever is the football scene with soccer players matched by brash Pantsula dancers, where there are so may people with so much energy dashing all over the stage that your poor aching eyes don’t know which frenetic direction to be following.

The show hangs together through a series of short dance scenes, each drawn from a part of African culture.

The only niggle was that the singer playing the first male warrior just doesn’t have the clarity of diction to give the role the gravitas it needs as mankind first emerges on African soil.

But the scene is short and soon forgotten as we spin out into gumboot dancing, tap and jive, drumming and a few heartfelt ballads to vary the pace.

The dancers all gloriously lithe and athletic and do full justice to the wonderfully inventive choreography by Debbie Rakusin and David Matamela.

A face-off between gumboot dancers and tappers is another highlight, enhanced by the simple effect of a silhouetted mining scene behind them.

The lighting is absolutely brilliant, with solo singers lit to perfection and many scenes enhanced by soft or stark effects that are thrown with perfect timing.
You can rave about the costumes too, designed by Lindy Joubert to be lavish, sexy and eye-bogglingly colourful in the scenes where gaudy outfits add to the exuberance.

The Sophiatown scene is another excellent piece, beginning with a sultry mood of tap dancing meets oil drum juggling. It builds into a zippy jazz crescendo as the women join the men and you realise you’re sitting with a daft, happy grin on your face at the magic of it all.

When the large cast launched into the Children of Africa finale, the silly grin is joined by goosebumps creeping up your arms.

“We have been here before,” they sing. Hell yes, and I’ll be going there again.

African Footprint runs at the Theatre of Marcellus at Emperors Palace until Sunday, 20th June.

Review by Lesley Stones. For more of her musings follow the links alongside.

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