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Enveloped in the spirit of the Basarwa healing dance

MOMPATI TLHANKANE
These women juggled and apple during the entire dance routine and they never flipped PIC: MOMPATI TLHANKANE
After watching Basarwa’s healing dance under the moon the previous night, my mind was still reeling over the spiritual aspect of the dance and how such an activity can heal the sick and the broken.

This time around it was Saturday and I got to see everything clear in daylight. With the Kuru Dance Festival held at Dqae Qare Lodge one could feel the movement of the dancers as they got into the arena.

Just like ancient Roman gladiators who were welcomed into the arena with loud cheers, the audience loved their dancers.  Mind you this was no violent sport like in ancient Rome but it was the kind dance that communicated with the audience.

The San tribe has very trouble-free dancers and they are able to convey feeling and intention without having to say a word. As I paid attention to every group that stepped on the stage, their body language communicated patterns and techniques. The way they interpreted their own songs revealed something about their etiquette and mood.

Body language is an integral part of human communication. The San’s dynamics of dancing is more of a two-way conversation between them and the audience. The way men ask women to dance also showed just how amazing their dance speaks volumes. It brings out a masculine-dominated culture where men ask while the women wait to be asked.

The more I fixed my eyes on the dance floor, the more I realised that being a good observer and practitioner of body language can make communication easier.  To some people, dance really brings to light the hidden confidence but when a group of women came onto the dance floor I soon observed that body language and confidence goes side by side.  These women juggled an apple during the entire dance routine and they never flipped. The way they exchanged the apple showed just how good a team they

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were. 

By understanding the nature of their body language, I realised that it made them dance better and feel better. Their facial expressions showed the correct amount of courage and confidence that is required to do such performances.

The San looked like the type that doesn’t spend time working on their facial expressions, but it rather it comes out naturally. We may not know where facial expressions being painted on our view come from but as the audience you have got to love the costume they put on.  They way the moved their mouths, jaws and eyes evoked a lot of emotion and its like they were not holding anything back.

They made eye contact with the audience and at the same time directed their energy towards their feet. As I heard their voices I moved with them and experienced their motion as my motion. I found myself tapping my toe to their dance moves.

Just like what I had seen the previous night with the healing dance, dance is among the core aspects of Basarwa’s spiritual life and they take it seriously.  They are such peaceful people and I presumed that they must at times dance their feelings instead of expressing them verbally.

By dancing them, they also communicate them to the audience. I watched the San choreograph their feelings onto the stage and as part of the audience I was able to read their emotions and feelings. 

The Kuru Dance Festival was created by the Kuru Development Trust and is sponsored by Barclays Bank of Botswana, and the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development.  The Kuru Development Trust focuses on economic empowerment for the San people.



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