Gumboot Dancers Rock Student Center
by Henry Claudy on Friday, November 20th, 2015
During Friday recess in the Student Center, music blasts from the speakers on the bottom floor, publications are distributed, and ravenous students swarm to the snack bar. This past Friday, however, there was another addition to the typical scene: the Kliptown Youth Program Gumboot Dancers, coming all the way from South Africa.
Gumboot dancing originated in the mines of South Africa, where the authorities had banned drumming. The miners, missing the drumming that helped them communicate and enjoy work hours, used the Wellington boots as an alternative. Gumboot dancing not only allowed the miners to work around the rules set by the bosses of the mines, but also to convey secret messages not for the ears of their employers.
Since that time, the Gumboot dance has become a part of the culture of South Africa. The dance itself is a percussive dance, focusing on the beats created by the stomps and slaps of the boots, sometimes with the addition of shouts and even singing by the performers. Juliana Rogoff (I), one of the co-captains of the Milton step team, said, “Step originates from Gumboot dancing, so it has a lot of the same movements and parallels. However, Gumboot dancing is more based in culture and folklore, and it has vocals. Step has calls, but it does not have the same kind of singing that one would see with the performance.”
KYP aims to provide aid and education to those in the Kliptown community. Kliptown has many programs and courses to educate the community and support those in need of assistance. The most famous program of KYP is the Gumboot troop. The group has traveled all over the world, from local South African events to China, and Germany. Last Friday, the group made its way to Milton, and gave performances to the Lower, Middle and Upper schools.
The group performed in the Student Center, and it was clear how well the group was received; students were standing on the stairwell, packed between columns and peering from the balconies of the top floor. The sounds of the performance filled the room.
Throughout the performance, students were attentive and pleased with the showing. Jacob Atwood (II) expressed his excitement with the performance, stating, “They were really good. I loved seeing that kind of thing at Milton Academy”. He continued saying, “I love that we bring in different styles of dance, it improves the culture of the school.”
Milton has always had a history of striving to expose its students to different cultures across the globe, and the Gumboot dancers are a perfect example of this. Being able to watch these dancers from across the world is such a special gift to have. Aaron Johnson (I) touches on this, noting “They spread positivity, world peace, and cultural awareness; That’s what you get at Milton.”
Short URL: http://miltonmeasure.org/?p=7491