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Ipi Ntombi

 Unrated   VHS Tape
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Ipi Ntombi is a joyous, homegrown dance and music celebration of black South African culture. First performed in 1974, the production, with a phenomenally talented and energetic cast of 50, has delighted audiences all over the world. This video of a live performance doesn't flag for an instant. The dancers display the athletic stamina needed to run a marathon; the singers show the vocal and emotive power of grand opera. Ipi Ntombi might well be regarded as a national opera of South Africa.

The story is so primal that it seems to have sprung directly from South African soil. It begins in a tiny village with thundering ceremonial dances in colorful tribal costumes. A tender love story emerges between a village girl and young man, who has gone away to work in the mines. As her sweetheart travels from the countryside to the city, tribal ceremonies morph into break dancing, jubilant South African rock & roll, and gospel singing. The youth, torn between his village roots and urban temptations, personifies the essential African conflict between the ancient and modern worlds.

Among memorable numbers are the cobra dance, with mesmerizing glow-in-the-dark costumes, and a funky gospel hallelujah chorus that brings down the house. The spectacular wedding ceremony between the boy and his girl symbolizes a marriage of tribal and city cultures. --Laura Mirsky


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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ipi Ntombi review Nov. 30 2003
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
I had the wonderful opportunity to see the show Ipi Ntombi, and let me tell you that I was just mesmerized by all the dancing and singing, I would recommend it for anyone to see it, it was just awesome. I would love to see it again. A wonderful performance. Congratulations to the cast.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Better than ever July 23 2002
Format:VHS Tape
I emigrated to the USA from South Africa in 1970, and first heard the tunes from Ipi Thombi -- as it was called then -- in a NYC disco some five or six years later. Then shortly afterward, saw the first stage show live at NYC's Harkness Theater, just before anti-apartheid activists shut it down, throwing the black South African cast and crew out of work. Irony, no? Since then, I have never been able to get its music out of my mind. So I bought the first album mostly featuring Margaret Singana ... then the second double album of the show. Both albums are now almost worn through. Then recently, I happened to catch a glimpse of a familiar scene as I surfed past PBS -- and clicked right back to find myself in the middle of a riotous river of swirling color and African harmonies (unmistakable, and unlike any other!) and saxophones and drums and ankle bracelets and movement (you better BELIEVE we got rhythm!) and almost the SMELL of Africa, even ... and a rush of memories like a blow to the chest. It pins you back to the couch, this show does, and never lets you go. Someone, somewhere, noted that if Ipi nThombi was not already the national opera of South Africa, then it ought to be; and that's true. Is it an odd thing that this sensitive glimpse into the African soul, this great tuneful outburst of black African exuberance was written by two white women? Not if you're South African, no: southern Africa's in your DNA. Watch "Ipi nTombi" and understand.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular Video tape March 31 2002
Format:VHS Tape
I have audio cassettes for Ntombi Marhumbhini. My friend gave them to me when I was in Malawi. When I came to the US, I wanted if I could find a VHS for the audio cassettes I have only to find Ipi Ntombi. I read the reviews, and I did not hesistate to buy it.
This movie is great. The way they sing and dance depicts African originality. Their voices are so sharp that I do not see it boring throughout. If you haven't watched this movie, please try to. You will not regret like I am not regretting having bought it. If you have watched Namu Lwanga from Uganda, it is almost at par. Namu Lwanga holds shows in colleges and universities all around United States.
Finally, I would advise to look for this movie and see for yourself.
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5.0 out of 5 stars excellent Jan. 23 2002
Format:VHS Tape
I missed Ipi Ntombi when they came to London, i watcthed a FRIENDS and i loved it so much that i went out looking for one in our local b/shop but they even did not know it was on video.
Umoja =THE SPIRIT OF TOGETHER is featuring in London and i and a friend have been to see them four times and i cant wait till they make a video. Well done AND MORE PRODUCTIONS like this should be promoted, thank you for your quick service.
IrenePANTHER.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Needs Subtitles Badly July 3 2001
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
I have an instructional African dance video and took several classes of African dance. The dancing in both of these was lovely, and lively. The extravaganza on this video is unfotunately very boring. The dancing is simple and slow, perhaps dumbed down for clueless Puritans. The lyrics are completely unitelligible. I couldn't watch it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A quintessential celebration of being African May 28 2001
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
I first came across(and fell deeply in love with) Ipi Ntombi as a youngster growing up in Nigeria a quarter of a century ago. I am pleased to say that, 25 years and a few modifications later, the magic has not palled. The at-times haunting love story, the vibrance of dance and costume, the enchanting melodiousness of the music, and the obvious delight of the cast in their work are all conveyed to the audience in a way that I, at least, find deeply moving. The purist will rightly say that this version is in some respects markedly different from the original. True, but of little consequence. Rarely will a second version of anything be nearly as good as this. The choral scene at the beginning of Mama Tembu's wedding is alone worth the price of this video, not to mention the Warrior Song. I used to tell my daughters aged 5 and 7 of this group called Ipi Tombi that I saw as a kid growing up at home, and I suspect they listened politely out of courtesy. Not any more- they watch this video at least 4 times a week, and I am seriously considering getting them their own copy, so I can adore Velaphi Mnisi in peace and quiet!! I have no hesitation in recommending this video to anyone even remotely interested in Africa or its music.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Does anyone see the cultural ramifications???????
I was amazed to see only positive reviews of this musical here. From a cultural/anthropological perspective this movie is horrific. Read more
Published on April 29 2003 by Kathleen M. Kelley
4.0 out of 5 stars Good But Not As Good As The Original
If you are lucky enough to have seen the original live show like myself (some 24 years ago)you may find this a little dissapointing, so please be open minded and treat it as though... Read more
Published on June 22 2000 by alex douglas
5.0 out of 5 stars Ipi Soars
I showed this video to my students in an African Studies course. They were mesmerized. The athletes were amazed at the intensity of the dance and the talent required to perform... Read more
Published on Feb. 1 2000 by sutton casey
5.0 out of 5 stars Ipi Ntombi - The best I've seen yet
I first saw Ipi Ntombi on a PBS fundraising drive. I contemplated pledging the $80 inorder to get the video. My budget then did not allow me to. Read more
Published on Jan. 16 2000 by Gladstone Henry
5.0 out of 5 stars A Spiritual Dance Celebration
I was introduced to Ipi by my mom, who had been telling me about it for weeks beforehand. Originally, she was aiming to turn my (then) 1 year old daughter on to it, as my daughter... Read more
Published on April 13 1999 by Justine Faulkenburg
5.0 out of 5 stars touches the emotions in me
I was introduced to this video by our local PBS station. I happened to be surfing the TV and saw the 1/2 hour show about the show and the people in it. Read more
Published on March 14 1999
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