Saturday, December 19, 2015

REAL Information About South African Ingoma & Indlamu, Part II

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part II in a four part series on the South African dance forms Ingoma and Indlamu.

Part II provides excerpts about Indlamu from Vusabantu Ngema's 2007 University of Zululand Masters of Arts dissertation "Symbolism and Implications in the Zulu dance forms: Notions of composition, performance and appreciation of dance among the Zulu". Particular attention in these excerpts is given to description of indlamu dances and, in particular to the dance style called "Isizingili".

Click for Part I of this series. Part I provides excerpts about the traditional and the contemporary meanings of Ingoma in South Africa from Vusabantu Ngema's 2007 University of Zululand Masters of Arts dissertation "Symbolism and Implications in the Zulu dance forms: Notions of composition, performance and appreciation of dance among the Zulu".

Click for Part III of this series. Part III provides an excerpt of a research article by Veit Erlmann on Zulu dancing.

Click for Part IV of this series. Part IV provides videos of Indlamu dancing.

The content of this post is presented for folkloric, historical, cultural, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Vusabantu Ngema for the information about Zulu culture that is he [?] shared online in that dissertation.

In 2012 that dissertation was published in book form. Click for information about purchasing it. Here's a summary of Vusabantu Ngema's book from that site:
"This book discusses the developments of the Zulu dance tradition from ancient times into the present. The book explores the notions of composition, performance and appreciation of dance among the Zulus. Furthermore, the book also highlights the issues of form and content through various categories under which dancing within the Zulu culture and Africa as whole are performed. The dances discussed range from ritual-ceremonial dances; recreational dances; communal dances; (modern) theatrical dances; as well as children game dances. Whilst the emphasis is on the notions of composition, performance, and appreciation; issues of how the dances are taught, rehearsed and mastered are touch upon. As such, traces of history, culture, customs and traditions are discussed as means to contextualized the dance forms discussed."

This series on Ingoma and Indlamu isn't meant to present comprehensive information about these South African dance forms.

I'm merely quoting excerpts from that above mentioned online source. I'm very interested in learning about these dances from anyone else directly familiar with them. Your comments and links will be greatly appreciated.

Note: These excerpts are quoted as they are given in that pdf file along with page numbers.
"1. 7.10 Indlamu/ugugadlela
Indlamu is a lively dance, indulged mostly by the young, almost indicative of the surging sea or boiling water. [p. 20]...

...The third type of solo dancing among the Zulus is based on Ukusina* and is divided into two styles. The first one... is improvisational and is accompanied by singing and clapping. Here there are no particular dance patterns to followed by a dancer. But the second type (of the form of solo dancing) is used in team dancing such as Indlamu and Ingoma. In the performance of Isishamina in particular, there is always an introductory solo before the main dance routine. In most Indlamu performances these solo performances are found sometimes in the middle of performances or towards the end...[page 49]

In Isizingili, the focus is mainly on the conversation between the dancer and the drummers. The good dancer is one who can [word missing] while teasing the drummer but still manages to take the drummer along with him in a way that [page 50 begins] they both come up with well executed rhythmic patterns. There is great coordination between the dancer and drummers. The drummers should be attentive to be able to interpret the movements of the dancer precisely." [page 50]
*Vusabantu Ngema gives the definition of Ukusina as "stamping". [page 30]

"Young girls at Ndomo also perform some form of dual dancing but they lift the knees and shake them attentively to the rhythm of the drum. This kind of performance is referred to as Indlamu or Ingadlela yezintombi and is done in an accompaniment of song and the clapping of hands by the spectators who usually stand in a circular formation. Couples (girls) take turn in the middle of the centre to perform quick movements described above. [page 51]

Chapter Four
Popular styles in Zulu Dancing
...Dance performances becomes an identity of certain communities, genders, and class. Indlamu, Isicathulo, and Cothoza have always been associated with working class. It is often performed by the migrant workers during their spare time or for inter-district competitions...

The structure of popular dances always consist of a verse and a chorus as opposed to repetitive structures found in ritualistic dances. The basic rhythm patterns and movements are canonized so as to allow everybody (dancers and audience) to follow and appreciate. The essence of [p. 61] popular dance is not the meaning of the movements but the ability to move to the beat with accuracy and style.

4.2 Types of Indlamu
4. 2.1
Indlamu is a team dance performed with the accompaniment of drums and whistles. New developments have sought the introduction of other percussion instruments such as bells, shakers, and Imbomu (wind instrument made out of plastic pipe.) The rhythmic structures associated with Indlamu are always intricate and the movements are somewhat acrobatic.

Some forms of Indlamu make use of sticks and shields hence they are referred to as war dance. The focus and direction of Indlamu dancing suggest advancing and retreating. [p. 62]

[Pancocojams' editor's note: Vusabantu Ngema provides descriptions of various types of Indlamu, including the dance style called "Isizingili".]

Isizingili is perceived less militant compared to other forms of Indlamu. The shields and sticks are also used in the performance of isizingili but the sticks are often covered with fur and the shields are very small. The way in which the sticks are carried suggest less aggression, that is, the sticks are sometimes put under the armpit or held by a left hand.

Compared to other forms of Indlamu, Isizingili is less stamping, instead its movements are more of stepping and kicking. The influence of [p.66] Isikhonde dance (pounding the earth with the knees) and the Ndau and Twa tumbling motions are evident.

Isizingili is the only form of Indlamu by the Zulu people that uses full turns and dives. The influence of the natural world of Umhlabuyalingana (flat land) also have a major influence on the nature of the movements since the major part of that area is sandy.

The performance of Isizingili is divided into two forms, that is, the team and the solo. The team dance is a series of set movements while the solo is improvisational. Team dance is formal while the solo is informal in a sense that even the members of the audience are allowed to partake. Solo dancing always occurs towards the end of the overall performance of Izizingili.

Like most forms of Indlamu, the rhythmical structure of Isizingili is in two fold, that is canonized and non-canonized rhythms. Staggered beats are also a common feature in the performance of Izisingili. Canonized patterns could be regarded as the root and identity of Isizingili dancing. Canonized rhythms are those fundamental rhythmical-patterns which help to distinguish Isizingili from other forms of Indlamu. The non-canonized are those that distinguish an individual/ team amongst other dancing teams of [p. 67] Isizingili. These rhythmical-patterns are based on fundamental aesthetics principles of form, such as variety, contrast, and sequence.

The dancers could either lead the drummers or the dancers could follow the patterns from the drummers. There is always a two-way conversation between the dancers and the drummers...

A rare dimension common only to Isizingili dancing is the movement of the pelvis. The thrusting forward and backwards of the pelvis by dancers of Isizingili suggests the sensuality of the dance. The inclusion of Ingulule (friction drum) sister drum to Ingungu which is used in rituals of sexuality, is also an addiction of sexual dimension to the performance of Isizingili. [p.68] This is the end of that section about Isizingili.

This is the end of Part II of this series. Read my editor's comment in Part I in which I shared that prior to reading the information quoted above Vusabantu Ngema's dissertation, and prior to watching YouTube videos of Indlamu, I mistakenly thought that Indlamu was only performed by males.

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

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