Saturday, September 26, 2020

The dancing trinity

There are three of them. And all are over forty years old. At any live jazz event of note, they can be seen outdoing each other on the dance floor, shuffling, swinging their arms and jerking parts of their bodies rhythmically. A gang of show-stealers they are; performing musicians must just love them.

An odd woman has been known to join in the revelry, the more daring she is, more risqu├® her hip movement will be.

Radio Botswana journalist Kesaobaka Keoreng, popularly known as KK, is the swiftest of the three, exhibiting a style evocative of a pantsula influence and a zany dress sense.
Jabu Ndlovu, the tallest of the three and often conservatively dressed, favours languid movement, picking his pants from his knees exposing sliding and slithering feet. Self-possessed, he states, “I have been a fan of jazz so long, so much that jazz was played at my 21st birthday,” added the earring clad dancer.

Ndlovu, unblushing, enunciates that he is a natural born dancer, “I was exposed to people who danced like this to jazz in Johannesburg when I was younger, but the dance came in Botswana later and many people didn’t really get into it,” he says interrupting my premature celebration of the end of the geriatric side to side shuffle (usually accompanied by awkward slightly bobbing head an hand sweeping side to side.)

“This dance has been around for years and has remained the same,” says Ndlovu. The dancer who was introduced to jazz through his uncles collection, does not consider this to be stunted development of the dance; the magic, it seems lies in interpretations, “It depends on what type of jazz you danced to. In Francistown, I had a partner named Cynthia who was into ballroom dancing. She would fuse ballroom moves with the jazz dance and the results would be breathtaking,” Ndlovu fondly recalled. “Essentially the dance has no formality and open to free expression.”

Last year, Ndlovu danced and won a trip to Cape Town for the official launch of Streethorn’s compilation album.

“Clothes also make the dancer,” Ndlovu concluded.

Jonas Junior Moipolai; ‘DJ Jazzy Jay’ to those familiar with his jazz disc jockeying has a holistic view; “There is a blundering misconception that jazz is old folk’s music, this is totally untrue,” said the last of three who was introduced to jazz through his father’s record collection.

He sites a seeming renaissance of traditional music driven by the young “which is a beautiful sight,” and hopes to see the same thing happen in jazz. He has mentored a couple of young DJ, among them PK in Tlokweng.

His dancing features borankana and pantsula robot nuances. Moipolai will not separate his dance from jazz, it is a lifestyle. “I dance when I get into the spirit he says; I particularly enjoy dancing with KK and Jabu because together we get into the spirit and reach for the skies,” Moipolai concludes rather poetically.

“Local Jazz and the dance can grow if the youth take part and bring in new elements to it, take note that musicians like Hugh Masekela and Abdullah Ibrahim took interest in the genre in their youth.”

“The youth spread their wings to explore jazz,” he says.

In his young days Jazzy Jay came across a video cassette featuring a dapperly dressed jazz dancer, which would stay etched in his mind. “I actually went through a period where I listened to reggae while at Gaborone Secondary School during 1980 – 1984,” Moipolai said briskly, “I went back to listening to jazz during school holidays. Its soothes and inspires me.”

He reiterates that jazz is not exclusively for senior citizens. Young kids can be exposed to it. Some jazz like be bop can be played while studying.

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