On Tuesday Charlie and I had the opportunity to be involved in a workshop with the brilliant Shangaan Electro. Visiting a primary school in St. George, the South African group stirred much curiosity and enthusiasm among the 7 – 11 years olds bouncing around their school hall, waiting to be taught some basics of the traditional dance in their after school activity.
The regenerated music genre of Shangaan Electro has slowly enveloped the world, taking marimba beats to whole new levels of vigorous speed and movement. Traditionally slower (but by no means slow!), African Shangaan music used to average at around 110 beats per minute, but in 2005 when jolly chap Nozinja decided to get involved with music, he upped the beats per minute to 184.
Teaching the children basic steps and encouraging each of them to make the moves their own, not one child refused to enter the middle of the circle and demonstrate their dancing, with a lot of side stepping, circling and jigging around to all angles of the people watching them.
Usually attending clubs and events, a Primary school in Bristol was not an expected choice for the group to visit. Despite this, the joyful spirit of Shagnaan Electro with its highly charged and exciting pace and rhythm was undoubtedly an incredible experience for all involved. For each child exposed to a form of dance expression that had no rules other than tempo and for every adult who was witnessing the buzz and inspiration of the children taking part, we all left that afternoon with a faster spring in our step!