Originally published by Red Bull Amaphiko
The Red Bull Amaphiko Academy is an initiative designed to help young South Africans who are making a positive difference in their community, to give them the mentorship they need to take their projects to the next level.
Lilou, a two-time Red Bull BC One winner, can help anyone master the basics of b-boy footwork in a matter of hours, as he displayed at the Amaphiko Academy. But as a champion b-boy, the secrets of his success lie elsewhere. And as a battle champion, he is also a keen learner and an adaptor.
Heading out into Mapetla, Soweto with fellow b-boy Vouks to meet Joburg dance group Shakers and Movers one afternoon, things get quickly heated from the spontaneous exchange of energy that can result from letting an opportunity take you where it might.
Shakers and Movers, featured in the film African Cypher, are new-age adherents to the craft of pantsula dancing, taking influence from a number of contemporary styles but keeping the essence of it recognizable. The exchange is being filmed as part of Lilou’s documentary of his South African trip “When I’m travelling, I prefer not to be a tourist,” says Lilou. “I want to be out there with people and be one with the life they live. It’s important to get the real vibes.” As Vouks explains, there is another important reason the dance off is happening. Prince, a member of the Shakers and Movers is battling leukemia and could use a morale boost. “We support each other as dancers and it doesn’t mean because he’s sick he’s forgotten, we’re just showing him love,” says Vouks, before taking the Ion mobile soundsystem across the street to the broad pavement where the performance will happen.
After linking up in Mapetla, the dancers and the film crew set up on Manpotshi and Mabhalane, a busy intersection in Phiri-Mapetla. Rush hour traffic is picking up – a good thing as we’re about to see.
Vouks, in his genius, cues Culoe de Song’s No Contest, a song with a looped, jazzy guitar riff and sprightly drums, as if it was tailor-made for pantsulas. From the moment, All Stars and Air Maxes touch the pavement, there is immediate cross-pollination. There is a lot of floor-rocking from Lilou, plus panstula-paced footwork. Madamo and Tebza counter with some contortionist moves of their own.
The incessant bounce of Culoe’s song doesn’t build. It merely calcifies as the intensity around it shifts. Everyone takes turns at centre stage. The moves get risqué and expressionistic, spilling out into the pavement. Madamo does a crawling, stomach-to-the-floor move known as the “scorpion”. The pantsulas flip over and bounce on their backs, pounding the tarred road. The cars stop, hooting in both frustration and dismay. The only thing moving right now is Lilou, Madamo and Tebza. Bonnets are scaled as the hooters howl on. The pantsulas have become possessed acrobats and Lilou has concocted some frantic footwork-based style. The three are no longer practitioners of different disciplines from far away worlds, they have merged their particular histories into one mutated global urban experience – if only for a moment, with Soweto bearing witness.
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