South African dance at The Center for the Arts in Grass Valley |

South African dance at The Center for the Arts in Grass Valley

"Stimela — The Gumboot Musical" is a unique tale of rural Africans who search for greener pastures in the City of Gold, Johannesburg.
Submitted photo to Prospector |


WHO: The Center for the Arts presents

WHAT: Festival of South African dance featuring Gumboots and Pantsula Dance Companies

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

WHERE: The Center for the Arts

314 W. Main St., Grass Valley.

TICKETS: $32 Member, $37 General public, $14 Students with ID & children under 12

The Center Box Office — 530-274-8384 ext 14

BriarPatch Co-op Community Market — 530-272-5333

Tickets online at


Two dance companies — Gumboots and Real Actions Pantsula — featuring more than 20 dancers and musicians, and two visions of South Africa, share one stage at The Center for the Arts on Thursday. The groups offer a fascinating glimpse into life under apartheid.

At times joyous, at times reflective, the Gumboots Dance Company presents, “Stimela — The Musical,” a unique tale of rural Africans who come by train in search of work in Johannesburg, where working the mines means better wages at the cost of a life away from family.

Created by Thapelo Gordon Motloung, whose Spirit and Bones was described as a “masterpiece” and an “energetic, thought-provoking and amusing musical tale” (Sowetan Live).

The other half of the program features the Pantsula Dance Company, celebrating a uniquely South African style of dance that grew up on the streets under the apartheid regime. There, young men practiced for hours a day and developed a vision of a better life through dance.

Real Actions Pantsula was established in 1992 by Sello Reuben Modiga. Modiga established the group after realizing the talent of young dancers in Orange Farm, a small town in South African outside of Johannesburg.

The group consists of 30 young, talented teenagers around the community. One of Modiga’s missions, as director and choreographer of the group, is to take South Africa’s youth off the street in an effort to give them a life free from the harmful influence of their community through the power of dance.

“Stimela — The Gumboot Musical” is written and directed by critically acclaimed, South African playwright Thapelo Gordon Motluong. It is a vibrant musical piece told through narration, music and Gumboot dance.

It tells a tale of rural African men who come by train from all walks of life in search of greener pastures in the City of Gold, Johannesburg. As time passes, life proves to be more challenging than they expected.

They endure difficult working conditions in the gold mines simply to make ends meet so they can send money back home.

The journey unfolds through a series of flashbacks as we learn about each man’s story from the eyes of Zakhele Ndlovu, a young Zulu man who leaves behind his mother and the love of his life, Buhle Zwane

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