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March 30, 2006

A cappella dance band bring 'Taste of Africa'

Berwick Today (UK):

Tweedmouth West First School pupils were given a special taste of Africa on Tuesday when they were visited by a flamboyant Zimbabwean dance band. Five-piece dance and a cappella group Black Umfolosi, who are from Bulawayo, delivered an energetic display of gumboot dancing, which originated in the South African mining communities and is crafted around percussive stamping and slapping of the boots.

Brendan Malkin, head teacher of Tweedmouth West First School, said: "It was a wonderful opportunity for the pupils to have first hand experience of live music, theatre and dancing, especially from another culture. They had been learning how to clog dance and couldn't wait to get on their Wellingtons and try gumboot dancing." Black Umfolosi have been touring Northumberland schools teaching young people and their teachers about the fascinating cultural history of their African heritage.

The event was organised by Creative Partnerships Northumberland, one of 36 partnerships created around the country aimed at putting creativity at the heart of the curriculum. Carol Alevroyianni, creative director of Creative Partnerships Northumberland, said: "This tour is all about broadening horizons, demystifying other cultures building confidence and having fun.

"A visit from Black Umfolosi is a fantastic way for a school to start thinking more creatively about teaching the curriculum. It's also a great way for students and teaching staff to learn something new together. "Meeting and working with creative people from their own and other cultures is very important for young people. It gives them an opportunity to see beyond the stereotypes. They are meeting real people and instead of just seeing artists 'perform', they are able to talk with them and get to know a little bit about life outside their own town or village."

Last year, Black Umfolosi provided the singing for the primetime hit television series - BBC's 'Africa Lives' - Celebrity Come Dancing special. They proudly perform songs and dances that are paramount to promoting their country's cultural heritage. The group speak five languages including Zulu and their native tongue Ndebele. Black Umfolosi realise the importance of teaching young people about the origins of different cultures, as their current goal is to build a young people's arts centre back in Bulawayo that promotes the arts and encourages co-operation between communities and different cultures.

Posted by acapnews at March 30, 2006 12:18 AM