Competitive displays of dancing often take place at coming-out and other ceremonies. Dancers demonstrating their skills are encouraged by onlookers, who generally provide the necessary musical accompaniment.
Today, dancers also participate in regional competitions, and many go on to earn a living by performing for tourists. Indigenous villages catering to tourists have become increasingly common following South Africa’s first democratic election in 1994.
In most South African communities dancing is a form of celebration and worship, and garments are designed to accentuate the movement of the dancers. In the case of beadwork and clothing worn by Tsonga dancers, colour highlights their movements.
By Professor Sandra Klopper