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 You are in: Special Report: 1999: 08/99: Edinburgh Festival 99  
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Edinburgh Festival 99 Tuesday, 24 August, 1999, 22:09 GMT 23:09 UK
The stamp of success
The spectacular dance show has received rave reviews
By Arts and Culture Correspondent Madeleine Holt

It grew out of the misery of apartheid.

A long way from ballet shoes
Gold miners devised a dance using all they had got - their wellington boots - to survive the drudgery of working underground, and living in all-male hostels away from their families.

It is called Gumboots - and is part of the culture of many of the dancers who are now bringing it to an international audience.

African Experience includes dancers from a youth club in Soweto - where some of the worst battles against apartheid were fought. Many have fathers who worked in the mines.

The troupe includes members of a Soweto youth group
The troupe is performing in Europe for the first time at the Edinburgh festival - the world's highest profile arts festival.

Bringing them to Edinburgh was the idea of Scottish dance producer Mairi Surtees-Cameron.

She and the well-known South African choreographer Wendy La Harpe have put together a programme that does not just reflect the culture of the townships - but Southern African history.

Bringing continent together

There are warrior and fertility dances. And they are not all performed by South Africans.

La Harpe and Surtees-Cameron have brought together dancers from Mali in North Africa, and from North America.

The show includes dancers from Mali
That is the theory behind it - that dance can conquer continental divides.

So far, the theory is working: the dancers have established deep friendships.

Their sense of unity is transmitted to the audience and they have had rave reviews.

They perform next in front of the South African president, but their dream is to perform in the United States.

Links to more Edinburgh Festival 99 stories are at the foot of the page.


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Links to more Edinburgh Festival 99 stories

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