As one in a series of Stay True journeys around the globe, Boiler Room and Ballantine’s tuned their ears to South Africa’s music scene. “Sometimes,” they say, “local themes emerge gradually. Not so in South Africa. Right up front, everyone we spoke to in the SA music world mentioned one thing above all others as important to them: the power and centrality of dancing in their lives.” To quote Okmalumkoolkat’s powerful summation, South Africa is “a dancing nation”. Considering this, the documentary part of the Stay True Journey in SA couldn’t have been about anything else and they enlisted filmmaker Lebogang Rasethaba – who brought us the incredble Future Sound of Msanzi – to direct it.
“I was approached to make a film about something music related in South Africa,” Lebo tells us. “I came in very highly recommended, which had its own set of pressures.” After pitching a number of ideas, it was decided to look at the relationship between dance culture and music culture in South Africa – as equal parts of a whole. The biggest challenge for Lebo was structure; how to pack so much information into a relatively short amount of time in an engaging manner. “For example,” he explains, “we had to touch on the past for context but we needed to get out of there quickly enough to connect the music story to the dance story.” One of the ways he achieved this was through an editing technique that is choppy but measured. “Visually it was exciting to shoot such familiar imagery, but as something completely new,” Lebo says. The final result is a film that is novel, interesting, informative and exciting to watch.
The Indigenous Dance Academy from Tembisa, Johannesburg and their founder Jarrel Mathebula are featured in the film, as well as the South African DJs who performed at the Stay True event. The captured reactions of the crowd who attended drive the whole thing home by showing what a vital collective activity dance is for South African music makers and their fans alike. As noted by Boiler Room, “It’s a compelling vision of generations of tradition being retooled for the 21st century.”
Follow the journey at: boilerroom.tv/staytrue