It’s no surprise that the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of a dance film is a lot of dancing, weak plot and lots of cheesy lines. Let’s face it; the only reason why we watch dance films is for the dancing. However, contrary to popular belief dance films have come a long way and reformed themselves over the decades.
Taking it back historically, the likes of films such as Saturday Night Fever and Footloose captured the spirit of their eras respectively; with Saturday Night Fever popularizing disco music in the 70s and making John Travolta the house hold name that he is today, and Footloose catapulting the 80s into the rock era. One of the earliest dance films I remember watching as a pre-adolescent, that spawned my love and interest for dance films is Dirty Dancing. And honestly speaking all that I can remember from watching the film is, well-the grinding! Patrick Swayze grinding his man bits against his sexy co-star, Jennifer Grey clearly had a lasting effect on a girl who hadn’t even gone through puberty yet. In spite of this, these films had one thing in common; they were able to strike a balance between a plausible storyline and riveting dancing. This is a trait that contemporary dance films have failed to grasp.
Track forward to the New Millennium dance films and all of that seems to have been lost in translation. In our modern day, when we think dance films we think, Step-Up, You Got Served and Bring it on-basically a lot of grinding and entrancing moves that the ‘average’ person cannot perform! Brings to mind the question, WHY do we watch Dance Flicks? Is it because we want to watch the cool moves that we know we’ll never be able to do? We definitely know that it is not because of their “mesmerising plot”. The typical dance ‘flick’ plot of today is the worn-out; boy meets girl clichés and cheesy lines that we have heard a thousand times over.
In light of this, should South Africa be excited about its first dance film entitled Hear Me Move? The title for one is catchy, and not typical of the vernacular titles that unfortunately accompany South African films. These film titles tactlessly not only give the plot away, but also provide for a boring, “I totally know what to expect” feel to it! Hear Me Move is a story about a dancer, Muzi, who goes on a quest to discover the truth about his dancer father’s life and eventful death (and of courses he dances his way through this). Like all dance films he does so with the disapproval of his mother and grandmother (because this film wouldn’t be a dance film without the ‘forbidden’ dancing now, would it?).
Directed by Scotness L. Smith, the film boasts newcomers Nyaniso Dzedze who plays Muzi, and Bontle Modiselle who plays Khanyi, Muzi’s love interest. But wait, what major South African film would be ‘major’ if it didn’t feature an array of local stars in it? The film also showcases the likes of miss sexy booty herself Boity Thulo, South African dance show host Thembi Seete, actess and dancer Lorcia Cooper, and South African self-proclaimed ‘queen of bling’ Khanyi Mbau, SA’s new ‘It girls’ Amanda du Pont and Radio Dj Khutso Teledi and of course South Afican golden oldies, Sthandiwe Kgoroge and Lilian Dube as the films guest stars.
The trailer feels truly South African as it hosts a lot of dancing, a display of bright and colourful hues, against a backdrop of shacks with African graffiti on them. Not forgetting the super bright attire the people wear reminiscent of the “isikhotane” culture, and yes, one can even expect to see their hideous flowered t-shirts. The music is authentic with Oskido’s popular Tembisa funk track in the background, as well as new comer Casper Nyovest’s hit Gusheshe to top off that township ambiance. This music is skilfully coupled with contemporary South African township dance styles such as isbujwa and spantsula, and a backflip by the main character at the end of the trailer-African style, just to remind us to expect some spellbinding dance moves that again, the average person cannot perform.
See the full trailer below:
It’s about time South Africa moved in this direction. Our country has been so misrepresented in global media and it’s about time we made a film that actually represented us. Granted we have never attempted to do anything as risqué as a dance film, but given our wealth of indigenous culture, a versatile and rich dance subculture, we definitely have untapped talent that the world hasn’t yet seen. Surely we deserve our own stage!
Not only will this be good for South Africa’s film industry, but it will also show the rest of the world that South Africa has more to offer than Tsotsi and Nelson Mandela. Don’t get me wrong these aspects are also important and form a significant part of our cultural heritage, but there is so much more to South Africa than apartheid.
I took the liberty to take to the streets and find out what the average Joburger had to say about South Africa’s first dance film. This is what they had to say;
“Is it cheesy and predictable?”, “What kind of dancing do they have in the film?”, “Is the film good quality?”
-basically, a comparison between South African films and American Films. It is evident that when it comes to South African films there is little or no confidence from our people.
While these responses expressed a lack of faith in the film, other responses were not so verbal. When asked his sentiments on South Africa’s first dance film, one gentleman literally broke out in dance-“Jika ma Jika” style. A true expression of African ecstasy. If this alone is anything to go by, it just goes to show how ready South Africa is to Step-Up!
After showing one group the trailer of the film, their reaction was so positive that exclaimed being sold just from hearing Dj Oskido’s introductory Tembisa Funk track in the background. They went on further to say the trailer of the film encapsulated the heart of township life and township popular youth culture and dance styles, mainly the sbujwa dance. One of the group’s members added that it was reminiscent of the late 90s series Yizo-Yizo, and even dubbed the film, Yizo Yizo-the dance form.
Apart from seeming to spur the public’s interest just from the trailer, South Africans should be delighted to introduce a 100% authentically proudly South African film that is made for our people, and by our people. Be sure to head out to a local cinema near you from the 27th of February, to catch in on this action. If the trailer is anything to go by, we wait with baited breath.
Finally, the world can “Hear S.A Move”.