“Music is the rhythm of life” says our narrator/guide and, if that’s the case, Umoja is the most life affirming musical ever.
Packed with the sights and sounds of the Rainbow Nation the show takes us on a circular journey from the past to the present, from the country to the town, in this celebration of South African song and dance.
First seen in London in 2000, this production is tighter, slicker and even more energetic than I remember it; for sheer joy and exuberance this group of 30 talented dancers and musicians have no equal.
Whether it’s the rich rhythms of tribal music pounded out on drums, the thigh slapping steps of gumboot dancing, the jazz of Sophiatown, the joy of gospel or the relentless energy of contemporary kwaito, it’s a tidal wave of treats.
The show, originally created by Todd Twala and Thembi Nyandeni, arose out of their desire to form their own dance company which would unite and empower as many underprivileged kids as possible. Looking for a name for their production, which was created as a way of reminding a new generation of South Africans of their heritage, they came upon the word Umoja, meaning ‘the spirit of togetherness’, and together they, and many young people, have taken it all over the world.
In London for only a month the latest incarnation, which dazzles and delights, could not have found a more aptly named home - see this bright and magnificent display before it flies away again.
- Dave Jordan