South African dance group visits SDSU

Brittany Westerberg

Brittany Westerberg

For students looking for an event with people costumed in prehistoric caveman motif, with the entertainers combining traditional South African dance with ballet and hip hop along with sketch humor and drama, look no further.

Juxtapower, which will perform at the Performing Arts Center on March 12 at 8 p.m., showcases Zulu/Suthu praise singing, dialogue, traditional songs, Zulu dance (foot stomping warrior dance), ballet technique, gum boot dance (rhythmic movement), hip hop and a touch of American stepping, according to their Web site,

“I was so impressed by Juxtapower that I had to try to bring them to SDSU,” Brady Mallory, the showcase coordinator for the University Program Council-which is sponsoring the event-said.

Juxtapower tells about the conflict and success that the South African culture has experienced in the years since the end of Apartheid, according to the Web site. “It offers significant lessons about the land, history and its people, as well as their continued struggles and blessings under the new democratic government,” it said.

Juxtapower originated in 1999 in New York City. Sduduzo Ka-Mbili, who was born in Engonyameni, a rural area in Durban, South Africa, started the group.

“We’re storytellers,” Ka-Mbili said on the Web site.

Ka-Mbili is a dancer, choreographer, actor, teacher and animal activist. He was nominated as one of the 25 to watch by Dance Magazine in 2003 and his work has been reviewed by the New York Times and the Washington Post.

“[The] African-flavored dance (choreographed by Sduduzo Ka-Mbili) in loincloth was a bit of a shocker in the midst of jigs, reels and bouncing curls,” read the Washington Post press review. “Still, it was such a standout and the dancing so skilled that no one who attended [the] concert is likely to ever forget the Africa-banjo connection.”

Ka-Mbili was later joined by his brother, Solomon Bafana Matea, as well as Kelly Boyd and Charmaine Trotman.

“Costumed in a prehistoric caveman motif, the symmetry and lines of the dancers’ bodies would motivate most to head to the nearest gym,” a Harlem writer wrote about the group. “The razor-sharp kicks to either side of the male dancers’ heads were awe-inspiring.”

Juxtapower has performed at the Kennedy Center and at the 2001 Miss World Competition, in the British Virgin Islands. They have performed for Presidents Clinton, Ford and Carter and collaborated with Disney’s stage version of “The Lion King,” according to the Web site.

“I ? like to create events that students would not otherwise have the opportunity to see,” Mallory said. “I want events that will appeal to all students, and I think that this particular night of dancing will be able to bring together students from many different aspects of this campus.”

In October 2007, Juxtapower opened for Alicia Keys, Gwen Stefanie, Sheryl Crow and Bono in New York City at the Black Ball Event … honoring Bono and raising money for the orphans in Africa, according to the Web site.

“Students will enjoy this event because it is fresh, exciting and will have an amazing stage presence,” Mallory said.