Five years ago, Vincent "Dube", a staff member at St. John the Divine, saw that the older kids at the center needed something to keep them off the streets, something to excite them, keep them entertained and focus them.... the answer? A Gumboot Dance Group!
The group was formed with just five kids participating in weekly practices, however, since that time, the group has tripled! It now has 15 children, 10 boys and 5 girls, working hard to synchronize their steps into one smooth performance, lead by their faithful 'General' Dube.
The group practices 2-3 times per week and conducts many shows for the kids who come to St. John's Outreach Center. They have also preformed for various groups and organizations who use the large hall at the center for their events. A special opening of a mini library in Mohlakeng in February, 2019 was especially exciting for our gumboot dancers, as they had the honor of preforming at the opening of the library! This event increased the dancer's self-worth and sense of joy in participating with this group. They cannot wait for their next big performance in the community! Their dream?... To preform in other cities around South Africa.
In the video below, some of the kids showcase their talent and Dube discussing how the kids are greatly benefited by this awesome dance group! We hope you enjoy watching them.
How can you help? Unfortunately, all of our kids gumboots were recently stolen, a very sad loss! Please consider donating to St. John's to help contribute towards purchasing new boots. One pair is around R 150-200 or $10-$15. Your small donation would make a big difference in the children's ability to keep preforming and continue doing something they love! To make a donation, please click HERE!
What is Gumboot Dancing?
Gumboot dancing started in the Capetown mines. The miners were not allowed to talk with one another so they developed a system where they would hit their boots. This soon became more than just a communication system as they started to incorporate dance and step into it. The dance itself is very energetic with lots of rhythm and emotion. It combines a special technique of slapping the boots with traditional songs that the miners used to sing as well as other African beats.