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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 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 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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4.0 out of 5 stars Good But Not As Good As The Original June 22 2000
Format:VHS Tape
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 this is your first time. The singers are not so clear or anywhere near so powerful and although the dances are flashed up a little , some are spoilt by modernization in an attempt to make the story clearer (where as it was guess work for us in the original- but you got the jist because it was so well done). The other main problem for us was that some of the more powerful moments had been reduced , like the warrior song , which was probably the most powerful song/experience we (and i speak for 5 of us) had ever had , where as now it was almost level with all the other songs. I don't wish to make this sound bad for it is truly a wonderful show/experience - I only wish that it was the original. I once had the double album sound track (bought back stage) which was released through k-tel records here in the u.k. but alas I have lost it. If anyone has it I would really appreciate a copy . Apparently there is a c.d. being re-released but I don't know yet if it is the original group or the new.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Spiritual Dance Celebration April 13 1999
Format:VHS Tape
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 showed an early love for music and dance, but the result was a three-generation passion for this show. In the meantime, my husband and step-daughter have enjoyed it, as well as others who have seen it when they come for a visit. For a while, it was just about the only videotape played in our house.
The music and dance are mesmerising, and I think if I ever get a chance to see Ipi live I'd cry through the whole thing for the power of the music. Everyone in the cast is talented, but there are a couple of stand-outs who are really something special and I'd love to see them in other things as well as a live Ipi show.
The only thing I'd recommend higher than purchasing and savoring this videotape would be to get it on DVD if it ever comes available. That way, one could enjoy the music at full blast while watching it (the way it should be) and maybe play the audio in the car. The music would be great in a car, either jamming down the highway on a sunny day or as a spirit lifter while stuck in traffic.
I think if more people get the chance to see this video there would be a grass-roots campaign to get the show with the taped performers to tour the US. I know it would be a hit now!
C'mon, folks - watch this one and you'll see what I mean and then see what people have to say in the reviews of the "Noises Off!" movie and get inspired!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ipi Ntombi review
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... Read more
Published on Nov. 30 2003
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular Video 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... Read more
Published on March 31 2002 by Peterson Moyo
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
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... Read more
Published on Jan. 23 2002 by Irene Panther
2.0 out of 5 stars Needs Subtitles Badly
I have an instructional African dance video and took several classes of African dance. The dancing in both of these was lovely, and lively. Read more
Published on July 3 2001
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 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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