Friday, February 09, 2007


Mogwana Dance Troupe - Botswana

It’s an early, and very rainy, Friday morning. I have been editing video tonight of totally different genre’s; Shannon Mowday Shannon Mowday playing at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival in 2005; some laid back footage of her with Jeremy Olivier and friends; and then suddenly the Mogwana Dance Troupe from Gaborone, Botswana. It’s a definite case of world’s apart, but then I am sure Shannon could even spice their shows up with her musical mind!

The Mogwana Dance Troupe is a group of artists dedicated to preserving the traditional dance of Botswana, and other area’s of Southern Africa. It’s not an easy project to do in these modern days of instant-electronica, where especially the youth, look away from their traditions in striving to be the coolest cat on the block.

Artists like Dizu Plaatjies, Amampondo and Madosini are the same artistic sort of archives; essentially keeping their cultures alive by allowing them to grow – against all odds; while artists like Thandiswa Mazwai really looked to connect the traditional with the modern sounds that she also felt connected to and the Kalahari Surfers keep traditional music as a solid base for very funky sounds.

But for a traditional dance group it is more difficult. Your audiences are more limited, and because of the amount of dancers that take part in dances, the size of the groups mostly prevent them from traveling too far from their home base.

The Mogwana Dance Troupe, started in 1991, has been fortunate having had the opportunities, in that they have been able to travel internationally and so been able to continue growing. They have created a DVD to promote not only themselves, but their traditions, and have toured countries like the USA, Canada, China, South Africa, Namibia and Swaziland, picking up numerous awards over the years.

There is always such a warming rhythm to traditional celebratory dances; where you can’t help letting your head bop along like one of those dashboard doggies. In this video clip, the Mokomoto dance comes from the North-East region of Botswana, and is mostly danced at celebrations like weddings. Both the men and the women take part in it, and it’s a happy dance because it is the welcoming of the bride by the grooms family.

I hope what ever celebrations you get to enjoy this weekend, you’re able to enjoy them enough to want to do a little shuffle and bop, with fingers clicking! And make it safe!

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