An insight in the possessive appeal of Tsutsube


The last time I was enveloped in the spirit of a traditional dance was last year at the Kuru Dance festival. That was after watching Basarwa’s healing dance under the moon.

Almost a year later now I am reeling over the Tsutsube dance group from Charleshill that generated electricity on the dance floor, this past holidays.

Xanxase group that won the Tsutsube category last year managed to retain their top prize. The group showed other competing groups why they are the hottest Tsutsube outfit in the country. Xanxase is a Sesarwa word meaning being active. So I finally found out how a community of out of school dancers could explore its physical and creative potential when they come together.

Tsutsube is one of those dances that possess a spiritual aspect and the Xanxase did not lack anything in that regard.

The moment they stepped on stage the sold out crowd at SSKB auditorium cheered wildly as if anticipating what was about to happen. I had never underestimated the power of traditional song and dance but it had been some time since anyone touched my tenacity, my courage and strength with the power of dance to be specific.

Xanxase’s powerful performance and even their smiles were enough to explode the competitions into life. They conveyed the transformative power of dance, and illustrated the beautiful moments as if they were visual artists. 

The female dancers who took turns to awe and charm the audience profoundly reinforced my belief in the sway of dance. There is something about a moving body that tells a story, and the Tsutsube dance on its own never ceases to amaze.

The way the male dancers flayed the flywhisk (seditse) and the manner in which they moved their shoulders were quintessentially careful and precise. The female dancers performed more complicated dances whose choreographies were based more on individual brilliance than routine. The ladies were the crowd favourite and their dances lasted only for a brief moment.

They clearly performed unthinkingly and symbolically. One of the female dancers whirled around several times and she seemed possessed or hypnotized. It was like a religious performance combined with wild dancing, possession and stupor. 

It looked like they could access feelings of the spectator. Whatever their feeling, the Nxanxase dancers got a chance to let it all go and connect with their own body in a stunning way.

Nxanxase dancers for a moment there had the timekeeper forget his job because their performance lasted longer than permitted. In that stage there was that nonjudgmental, all-encompassing, and free environment, because their body movements took care of all of us.  I was not even aware of what was actually going on around me and my attention was right in the centre of the stage. Nxanxase made dancing look easy and made me to forget about the hard rules in dance.

They were coordinated and perfect and I suddenly had this wish to up on stage and dance. I was tired of the experience of sitting and watching amazing dancers become who they are on stage. But overall, Nxanxase owned that stage, they humbled their opponents and most importantly, they left a mark on our still-thumping hearts.

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