African Studies | Topics in African Studies
L400 | 29015 | Dlamini, Betty

Course Title: Gumboot Dance: Beauty from Pain

The Gumboot Dance course is more than just dance. It includes the
study of how the early gold miners in South Africa transformed an
oppressive and painful situation into a beautiful and enjoyable one.
In the introduction there is a discussion of important concepts such
as community, traditional practices, heritage, identity, diversity,
participation, life performance, oppression, improvisation and non
verbal forms of communication. The understanding of these concepts
assists students in studying the history of Gumboot dance. Next, is
the history of Gumboot dance in the mines of South Africa, where the
miners were from diverse backgrounds and had brought with them their
diverse traditional practices. The history extends to the
exploration of the origins of the icons of Gumboot Dance, which are
the boots, jean over-alls, bandanas and helmets.

Practically learning Gumboot Dance is spread throughout the course.
Apart from learning making various movements of the body, the
practical sessions incorporate learning how to make rhythmical
stamping of feet, slapping of boots and parts of the body and
clapping of hands. The students get the opportunity to create their
own contemporary patterns of Gumboot dancing, which come along with
their own lyrics. The climax of the course is a live performance by
the students, where they demonstrate the newly learnt dance skill as
well as their own new creations.
The studentsí evaluation includes written assignments, class
participation and presentation, analysis of Gumboot Dance
performances on videos as well as the final practical project
(show). The show demonstrates the communal and cooperative spirit
among diverse people with one common goal. The evaluation of the
show includes even the outside performance roles the students play,
such as planning, advertising and more.