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Polyfest Diversity Stage 2021: African Dance Group

On 14 April, a group of Rutherford College students banded together to perform a medley of African dance styles against 55 schools at this year’s ASB Polyfest. In an unprecedented first for the school, they won five of the seven categories on offer for the Diversity stage.

They were awarded 1st place on the diversity stage, best choreography, best interpretation of theme, as well as the best Africa Continent award, and finally won 1st Overall on the Polyfest Diversity Stage.

The performance was titled: Ngoma kwa uponyaji wangu (dance me to my healing).

Through movement and song, the overall presentation represented how different African cultures and traditions experience healing by way of music and dance. Furthermore, although Africa is a continent we heal best when we come together as one body.

Carefully choreographed by past students Favour Ukah and Alana Sabetian. Year 12 student, Raheal Taye introduced their concept to the diversity stage judges. Highlighting how historically Africa and its peoples have “endured so much evil from its colonial powers that have left a stain of pain and suffering that devours communities everywhere”. The songs selected for their performances speak to them refusing to keep crying and to seek joy in knowing that there is something on the other side through the teachings and/or beliefs in a higher power.

Their first song (Freedom) expressed the pain and suffering of the different African nations. The students were a representation of the African diaspora and how we choose to look at the brighter side in the midst of darkness by coming together. In the next scene, they expressed perseverance through a gumboot dance sequence. This was quite significant on the day, as other school groups also chose to perform a variation of the gumboot dance — developed in South Africa by migrant miners who would use it to communicate when their voices were silenced. The performance transitioned to a collective dance to show unity. What is more, the students also thought it to be important to highlight women within their next group dance. Seen as the backbone of most tribal communities, women are commonly viewed as leaders, teaching us to acknowledge life and death.

In closing, the students conveyed through their performance to honour our situation and lean on each other for healing our body, mind, spirit, and soul with the strength of culture.

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