VETERAN cadet dancer, Thabo Francis Joalekenako and the Beauty Pageant Association of Lesotho chairperson, Tlali Tlali, have organised a series of classes which will culminate in the revival of the Cadet Dance during the Culture and Innovation Week Carnival in October this year.
The classes commenced over the weekend with Joalekenako hosting 22 girls at the TnT Security premises in Maseru on Saturday and Sunday. The participants were taught the basic moves of the dance which was popularised by sailors and the army.
The dance features drums and trumpets where the dancers performing uniform moves often using sticks. It is usually performed on the streets during carnivals or in arenas during national celebrations. It was also adopted by Catholic schools with students performing at different celebrations.
The first performances will be held on the streets of Maseru during the Culture and Innovation Week Carnival set for the first week of October.
Joalekenako this week told the Weekender that they aimed to revive the dance which somehow died down in the country in 2007.
“We stopped performing in 2007 due to old age and unfortunately there was no group to replace us until recently when I was approached by Ntate Tlali to revive it,” Joalekenako said.
“We currently have 22 ladies learning the dance but the aim is to recruit more people regardless of the age and body size to join us. For now we will practice at TnT offices every weekend but the aim is to train every afternoon when students come from school.
“To ensure that the dance does not die again, we intend to teach children from as early as primary school across the country.
“We urge parents to allow their children to join. We are also appealing to the public to support us for this dance is not only a form of entertainment as it also goes together with discipline, time management, leadership and other life skills.”
Joalekenako who performed for the late Pope John Paul II and the late South African President, Nelson Mandela, during their separate visits to Lesotho, said he joined the Cadet dance in 1966 at Mofumahali oa Tlholo Cathedral where he and others were trained by Brother Irene Lecter of the Roman Catholic Church. He also performed in South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland until 2007
He honed his skills in Johannesburg, South Africa from 1974 to 1984 where he qualified as a drum major and also became an expert in staff notation and many sketches.
“We formed different groups around the country and every time there was a big or government celebration we would be invited to perform. We were about 3900 nationwide and we would choose the best 60 to perform during celebrations.”
One of the learners, Sebolelo Rathebe, told this publication that she loved the dance and had already learnt a lot in the two days she had been with Joalekenako.
“I always loved and wanted to join Cadet Dance since high school but unfortunately it was open for Catholics only and I did not hesitate when I learned this would be open to anyone.
“Besides physical exercise, I have already learnt about time management and the importance of respecting everyone.
“Cadet Dance can be a good hobby and I advise other people to join as it is a good way of exercising without actually hitting the gym and it also helps boost self-esteem as the performances are going to be done before crowds, she said.