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