A couple of years ago I got a DVD out of the library (I cannot remember the title) and I saw, for the first time, the dance style called Stepping. In this dance, the whole body is used by the dancer as percussion instrument to produce rhythms and sounds using a combination of steps, words and hand claps. The final dance scene from the film Stomp the Yard shows the intricacy of some of the choreography the groups come up with when stepping. Enjoy this snippet from the film featuring the final dance scene:
When I first saw stepping, I was reminded of an African dance that I have always enjoyed: Gumboot Dancing. This movement was first danced by the black miners in South African gold mines as an alternative way to the drumming that had been prohibited by the authorities. The gumboots (Wellington boots) were decorated with bottle caps so that they could make a ringing sound as the boots were stamped on the ground. As they move, the dancers call out words or phrases. Watch this video and listen to the percussion sounds that they make:
The gumboot dance finds its origins in the Zulu tribal dances which were adapted for the new surroundings. Stepping stems from African tribal dancing and has echoes of gumboot dancing. Not surprising then that the first time I saw stepping it reminded me of the dances I used to enjoy watching as a child.
What are your thoughts on Gumboot Dancing and Stepping?
© Colline Kook-Chun, 2012