Converse Heroes in bid to revive Pantsula

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Mohalenyane Phakela

VODACOM Superstars 2015 dance category winners, Converse Heroes, say they will soon open a dance academy to revive the Pantsula dance form in the country.

Converse Heroes walked away M70 000 richer after clinching the top prize in the finale of the Vodacom Superstars talent search competition held on 10 October 2015. In addition to the cash prize, the Khubetsoana-based group will also perform in a video by South African producer Oskido’s Kalawa Jazzmee record label.

The all-male trio consists of Molao Monyane, Mohale Montšo and Keketso Lephoto. Monyane, who is the group’s founder, told the Weekender this week that Converse Heroes was formed in 2010 to promote the Pantsula dance form.

“After finishing my Form E in 2010, I approached Keketso and Mohale, who were still in high school at the time, and proposed that we form this group,” said Monyane.

Monyane said since its formation, Converse Heroes had stayed true to their chosen dance form, and worked tirelessly to ensure they made a mark in the cutthroat entertainment industry.

Pantsula is a highly energetic dance form that originated in the black townships of South Africa during the Apartheid era. Originally referring to a style of dress, it soon evolved into a cultural expression and later into a dance form.

The culture of Pantsula was commonly associated with tsotsis (gangsters) in the sixties and seventies, but has morphed into a form of social commentary which has undergone several transformations.

“I have been a fan of Pantsula for a very long time, and am devoted to the dance form,” he said.

“I also want to correct the misconception that Pantsula is synonymous with crooks and show that it is a genre for talented people.

“We have often faced discrimination by some people who thought we were criminals, to the extent of being denied entry at certain events. Some of the people would think we were there to cause trouble, but we did not despair because we knew that one day they would see us for who we are.”

The Pantsula dance form, Monyane said, was unique in its ability to combine entertainment and education.

“As people marvel at the frenzied movements of legs and arms, they also get to learn about important social issues,” he said.

“For instance, we have performed in a HIV/AIDS awareness campaign in which we showed young people that the pandemic kills through dance. The audience loved our performance which was both entertaining and educating.”

Monyane noted that their main objective was to revive the Pantsula dance form and become choreographers.

“We will use the M70 000 we won in the Vodacom Superstars to open a dance academy which will help keep young people learn new skills and keep them off the streets where they end up committing crime,” he said.

Monyane added that with such opportunities as the Vodacom Superstars, it was possible for dance to become a career choice.

“We urge young people not to take their talents for granted because it can take them to places they had never imagined just like it has done for us,” he said.

“Imagine that we will soon feature in a South African music video which is a great achievement for people from the humble surroundings of Khubetsoana.”

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