Thursday, April 27, 2017

Nine Videos Of Nama Stap (Nama Step Dancing) In Namibia & South Africa

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part II of a two part series on Nama Stap (Nama step, Riel) dancing in South Africa and Namibia.

This post provides information about Nama Stap and showcases nine videos of that dance form in South Africa and Namibia.

Click for Part I of this post. Part I provides an excerpt from a pdf file by E. Jean Johnson Joneson entitled The Nama Stap Dance: an analysis of continuity and change. That research paper focuses on a form of the Nama stap dance in South Africa.

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to the Nama people sharing their cultural heritage with the world. Thanks also to all those who are featured in these videos and thanks to the publishers of these videos on YouTube.
Click for a closely related pancocojams post on the names for the days of the week in the Nama language.

Here's an excerpt from that post that is given here for clarification purposes:
"The Khoekhoe language... also known by the ethnic term Nama ... and formerly as Hottentot, is the most widespread of those non-Bantu languages of southern Africa that contain "click" sounds and have therefore been loosely classified as Khoisan....

It belongs to the Khoe language family, and is spoken in Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa by three ethnic groups, the Nama, Damara, and Haiǁom. A smaller fraction of mostly Nama and Damara who fled the 1904-1908 Namibian War of National Resistance also speak the language in Botswana, while Khoena (previously Colored) are working hard ton revive the language in South Africa."

INFORMATION ABOUT NAMA STAP (also known as "Nama" dancing and "Riel dancing")
"Riel (or Rieldans) is a Khoisan word for an ancient celebratory dance performed by the San (also known as Bushmen), Nama and Khoi.[1] It is considered one of the oldest dancing styles of indigenous South Africa. Also known as Ikhapara by the Nama, it is danced at an energetic pace and demands a lot of fancy footwork[2][3]

The dance was not originally called "riel". The original Khoisan and San languages had mostly disappeared and in South Africa these groups mostly speak Afrikaans. The word was later borrowed from "reel", a Scottish folk dance and in Afrikaans the dance became known as the "riel".[4][5] In Nama the dance is known as Ikhapara which is derived from the word "khapas" which means "hat". The hat of the man is a useful article to win a lady's hand in marriage[6]

The riel is the oldest entertainment form used as a social, cultural and educational tool by the Khoisan people long before Western cultures and traditions arrived at the Cape of Good Hope. It is an age-old dance of the Khoisan hunters, with distinct Irish and Scottish folk music influences, all performed to the beat of "boeremusiek", Dutch folk songs and minstrel songs of the south of America … It became the dance of the working classes, particularly between the 1940s and 1950s and was danced, especially in the Northern Cape and Karoo and some other regions.[7]

This lively dance was danced around the campfire after hunting expeditions, good harvests or during a celebration Later this also became the dance of farmworkers and sheep shearers, whose daily activities are often portrayed during a dance.[8][9]

The riel was made popular again in recent years and is a true celebration of ancient traditions that finds new expression in contemporary forms. Its modern version has elements of colonialism as the accompanying instrumentation includes guitar and violin, and the outfits adorning the dances are commonly known as 'working class clothes'.

Dance style classification
The most outstanding feature of the riel is the ingenious and frantic footwork and energetic pace at which it is danced. The dance was performed in the dusty sands around a campfire and thus the dance is described by a beautiful Afrikaans expression: “Dans lat die stof so staan” (Dancing at a fast and energetic pace resulting in a lot of dust)

The unique dance is performed by a group, often in a circle. This dance consists of cultural movements (gestures) and is often used to tell a story[10] It is about wooing and lovemaking, and takes some of its moves from animal-like movements and animal courtship, particularly the ostrich. The bright colours of prancing animals' is portrayed in the characteristic colourful costumes.

Styles and moves
Dance moves portray the wooing between man and female and this is portrayed through imitation of animal and bird movements, such as the butterfly, antelope, baboons, snakes, meerkat and horses, as well as the flirting of pigeons, rooster, turkey and ostrich male. These movements include, "bokspring" (gamboling), "kapperjol", trotting and strutting as horses.

The Afrikaans idiom "vlerksleep" (courtship dance like a bird) is displayed in the riel.[11] The man use his coat panel, his arm or his hat held in his hand, to court with a lady or for example, to invite her to dance.

There is also the ever-popular monkey dance or depictions of the working environment, the galloping of horses, sheep shearing or herdsman dance. Everyday use is manifested in the "askoek" slapping, where the right foot is securely placed above the left knee and slapped – or vice versa – to demonstrate how excess ash are dusted from the "askoek" (a bread baked in ashes).[12]

The dance is characterized by lively music and music instruments such as the "ramkie" (tin guitar made out of an empty oil can and a piece of wood with strings), odd handmade violin or, sometimes, a banjo, accordion or mouth organ, are used as accompaniment[13]”...
Judging from the titles of YouTube videos about this dance form and the online information that I've read about this dance, it appears that the name "Riel" has been replaced by the name "Nama stap" (also given as "Nama stap"). Also, in addition to the name "Riel", the European influence of the reel dance is evidenced by some of the ways that the dance is performed i.e. the couples holding hands while dancing in the circle or line, and the women twirling under their male partners' arm.

It seems to me that the clothing that is worn by traditional Nama stap dancers are only partly influenced by garments, hats, and bonnets worn by the South African Cape's and Namibia's Dutch and German colonizers. I think that that United States minstrelsy also influenced the patches in the pants that are worn by some male traditional Nama stap dancers, and those patches are imitating the poor clothing of Black people who were supposedly portrayed in those minstrel shows. Note that White American black faced minstrels and African Americans singers and dancers performed in South Africa as early as the mid 19th century and were especially popular in Cape Town, South Africa. Read a brief quote about the influence of black faced minstrelsy and Black American performers in South Africa in the comment section below.

It's interesting that the author/s' of this Wikipedia page didn't mention one person blowing a whistle as part of the Namastap instrumentation. Maybe blowing a whistle is a more recent addition to that instrumentation.
Additional information and comments about this dance form in the video summaries and comments that are found below.

Example #1: Prince Ariyo Cultural Group [Namibia, South Africa]

Eddie Links Published on Aug 27, 2012

Namastap at Gochas
Cultural Festival 2011

Example #2: Nama Dance [Namibia]

blacfoundation, Published on Oct 3, 2012

Example #3: Nama Stap - Cultural Dance from Namibia

Eric F Published on Nov 6, 2014

Students from Kalkrand, Hardap Region perform the Nama Stap in Okahandja.
Here are three selected comments from this video's discussion thread:

rodger ndwandwe, 2015
"what a beautiful performance...i really love the music (namastap)"

Jbk Witbooi, 2015
"The pride of the south Namastap..."

"More white influence...but great"

Example #4: Die Nuwe Graskoue Trappers Riel Dance Team [South African group performing in the USA]

Alan Straton, Published on May 26, 2014

South Africa's entry in the World Championships of Performing Arts in LA later this year is the 2013 ATKV Junior Riel Dance Champions; 'Die Nuwe Graskoue Trappers Riel Dance Team' here showing their stuff at the Media Launch for the 2014 Kirkwood Wildsfees.

'Die Nuwe Graskoue Trappers Riel Dance Team' will represent Team South Africa at the 18th annual World Championships of Peforming Arts in Los Angeles, United States between 11 and 19 July 2014.

Each year, countries send their best and most outstanding talent to the U.S. During this heated week of events, competitors go head to head "Olympic-style" in a wide variety of competitions. Each winner gets a coveted gold medal which brings with it the respect and admiration of people around the world along with potentially a career opportunity of a lifetime including over $130,000 USD in scholarships.

The Nuwe Graskoue Trappers Riel Dance Team made it through the Provincial rounds to represent the Western Province Team of Performing Arts at the final of The South African Championships of Performing Arts which took place in Rustenburg from the 4 to 13 April 2014.

They were the only group from the West Coast and Cederberg Municipality to make it to the final as well as the first ever Riel Dance Group to make it to this prestigious event. They entered for the Dance Event in the Ethnic Folk Category. The band that leads this dance group also competed in the Instrumental Event in both the Original and Open Categories.

The band took the Gold Medal in the Open as well as the Original Category as well as scooping the Original Category overall Trophy Award. The band will also take part at the World Championships of Performing Arts in LA later this year.

South African actress, Marbi van Wielligh signed with Chancellor Entertainment and moved to Hollywood after a successful show on the World Championships of Performing Arts stage.

Example #5: Kwaai City - NAMA DANCE A `RIEL' HIT AT THE CAPE TOWN CARNIVAL [South Africa]

Kwaai City, Published on Jun 9, 2014

For the first time ever, the Riel - age-old dance of the Nama people - took pride-of-place at the Cape Town Carnival. Riel Dancers from Wupperthal, Elizabethfontein, Citrusdal Academy, as far as the Northern Cape, revived the dance to tell modern day stories of their lives. Floris Brand of Bushman's Kloof assembled the troop of eager dancers for the grand occasion - who danced the streets of Cape Town - to the traditional music of maestro, Bertie Zass and his band. And the crowds absolutely loved them!

Born out of traditional Khoi and San ceremonial dances around the fire, it has been practiced by descendants of these indigenous cultures for many years, most of whom were sheep shearers and farm workers across the Cape.

The Riel dance was very popular in the forties, fifties and sixties, but has been sadly neglected in recent decades. Dressed typically in traditional, farm-worker outfits - the women in dresses with aprons and old frontier bonnets, and the men in waistcoats and hats adorned with feathers, finished with the famous, hand-made red veldskoen -- these vibrant dancers were a `Riel' hit.

Popular Riel dances include courtship rituals, and mimicking typical animal antics along with lots of bravado, showmanship and foot stomping. It has only recently been revived through the efforts of writer and storyteller, Elias Nel of the Afrikaanse Taal & Kultuurvereniging (ATKV), who introduced the ATKV Riel dance competition in 2006, to ensure the survival of the dance and introduce the world to this wonderful, foot-stomping, cultural whirlwind….

Example #6: Namibian Nama Dancers [Namibia]

Northern Cape Tourism Published on Sep 22, 2015

The Namibian Nama Cultural dancers at the first annual Pella Festival.

Example #7: Riel dancers at Snoek & Patat festival in Goedverwacht 2015

H Vergo, Published on Jun 28, 2015

I took this video at the festival which is held annually. Riel dancing ise part of the South African Coloured community's heritage.
Click for an outdated d article about South Africa's Cape Coloured population that still provides some historical and cultural information about that population. I gather that that Wikipedia page is outdated since-if I correctly understand the Wikipedia article on the Khoekhoe language that is quoted in the beginning of this post, "Hottentots, and later "Cape Coloureds" are now retired referents for the population that is now known as "Nama". Please correct me if I'm mistaken about this point.

Example #8: Real Namastap by Schmelenville Combined School culture group [Namibia]

Bertha Motinga Published on Nov 8, 2016

Example #9: Riel Dance Competition Final in Paarl [South Africa]

Rudolf Rieger Published on Dec 15, 2016

Rieldans / Riel Dance competition final hosted by ATKV on the 3rd of December 2016 in Paarl, Western Cape, South Africa. This trailer forms part of the documentary in production "Africa's Indigenous Survivors" The Khoekhoe Saga, which is financed by the NLC and produced by On Set Film Productions

This concludes this two part pancocojams series on Nama Stap. Additional video examples of Nama Stap will be published in this blog and can be found by clicking the "Nama stap" tag.

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1 comment:

  1. Here's a brief quote from that refers to American performers in South African in the mid 19th and early 20th centuries"
    "In the mid-1800s, travelling minstrel shows began to visit South Africa.

    At first, as far as can be ascertained, these minstrels were white performers in "black face", but by the 1860s genuine black American minstrel troupes had begun to tour the country, singing spirituals of the American South and influencing many South African groups to form themselves into similar choirs.

    Regular meetings and competitions between such choirs soon became popular, forming an entire sub-culture unto itself that continues to this day in South Africa.

    Orpheus McAdoo and the Virginia Jubilee Singers were among the most popular of the visiting minstrel groups, touring the country four times (some of his troupe's members, in fact, decided to stay in South Africa). McAdoo was a hero to South Africans of colour, as a model of what a black man could achieve."...
    I included this quote and other information on this subject in a 2011 pancocojams post entitled "South African Isicathamiya Music"