What is African Dance?

with Maxwell Xolani Rani

Do you want to dive deeper into the roots of African dance culture? Do you want to have a more nuanced view of the influences between traditional dances and urbanism? Do you want to better understand the fine line between appropriation and appreciation of African dances in the modern world?

Maxwell Xolani Rani, an esteemed dancer teacher, choreographer, course convenor and PhD fellow at the University of Cape Town, recently gave a lecture series addressing different and complementary topics:

Lecture 1: What is African Dance? An introduction
Lecture 2: Decolonising African dance pedagogy
Lecture 3: The urban popular dance isiPantsula: from apartheid to post-apartheid
Lecture 4: The commercialisation of social South African traditional dances

Recordings of the lectures are available in video and audio form, and you can purchase access below. A 50% discount is available to the South African community—please contact us for the discount code.


About the course

In this series, we will discuss an overview of the past, present and future of African dance. The discussions will focus on basic theoretical components that are attached to African Dance history, for example, defining and interrogating African dance, transition and continuity of African dance in the 21st century spaces, and the appropriation and appreciation of African dances in the modern world. We will take a look at African Contemporary Dance in South Africa and the socio-political factors that are attached to it. The series will emphasise local and global influences of modernity and urbanism on traditional and neo-traditional dances, and the South African Contemporary works. We will engage, converse and laugh as a community, being kind to each other while using African dance education as a tool to close the gaps, empower and stimulate. “LET’S DIG IN”

About the lecturer

Maxwell Xolani Rani is a senior lecturer at the University of Cape Town’s Centre for Theatre, Dance & Performance Studies. He holds a Master’s (MMus) degree in Dance and he is currently a PhD fellow at the University of Cape Town. He is the founder and the creator of the African dance technique called Intsika meaning the “pillar” or the “strengthener”. He is experienced in teaching and choreographing most levels of African dance technique and its contemporary works. He is a convener for the courses encompassing practical and theoretical studies in African dance. Rani has produced and choreographed works and taught in South Africa, Senegal, Mali, Namibia, Gambia, Cape Verde, Ethiopia, London, Brazil, Germany, United States, China, Jamaica, France and Canada to name a few. He has presented papers in several conferences such as DACI conference (Bahia, Brazil) and Confluences Conferences (Cape Town, South Africa), Edna Manley School of the Arts Jamaica- Kingston Summer School as an invited teacher. Rani is a published scholar and currently a 21st century choreographer in African traditional and African contemporary works. Rani has choreographed for movies such as “Last Face” directed by Sean Penn (USA), Opera works such as “Porgy and Bess”, Interdisciplinary theatrical works like “Ingcwaba Lendoda…” directed by Mandla Mbothwe, choreographed for “UHAMBO 1 & 2” Directed by Mzokuthula Gasa. Rani directed and choreographed “Decolonising the African Dancing Body” at Baxter Theatre, recently he choreographed for UNESCO (Ghana, Senegal, Guinea, Benin, Gambia) and for Theatre in the Back Yard “Wait…Linda” directed by Mhlanguli George.