Via Katlehong

The award winning Via Katlehong Dance was formed in 1992. Originally a community troupe, Via Katlehong was composed by youths from the township of Katlehong in the East Rand – a notorious war zone during the 1980’s uprising in south Africa – to keep away from the criminal activity raging in their township.

Lead by Vusi Mdoyi, Steven Faleni and Buru Mohlabane, the company comprises a community school of dance and an 18-members who are professionally outfit. They specialize in “Pantsula”, a South African township dance, and other neo-traditional forms such as “Gumboots”, “tap Pantsula” and “steps” – a township interpretation of Gumboots dance.


Via Katlehong, through their innovative approach to Pantsula, Gumboots, Tap and Steps, they helped to revive the form, making it an important feature in South African contemporary dance today. They have won many awards along the way, including FNB Vita Dance, Dance Umbrella awards, Gauteng Dance Showcase, KTV Most Brilliant Achievement and Gauteng MEC Development Award amongst others.

They also currently participated in “Step Africa”, an international cultural exchange dance workshops involving South Africa, the United States and Great Britain. They were currently involved in the Cultural exchange dance educational workshops in CNCDC Châteauvallon (France). The piece “Nkululeko – celebrating 10 years in South Africa” was performed in many cities and dance festivals such as Les Rencontres de La Villette – Paris, Suresnes Cités Danse, C’est de la Danse Contemporaine ! CDC -Toulouse, etc.


After the major forced removal institutionalized by the Apartheid state during the sixties in South Africa, many of the country’s black population was relocated to township in the urban zones. As meeting zone between rural and city dwellers, these reservoir for cheap labors, unemployed and criminal activity became the bleeding ground for the explosive culture to come out of the country: Pantsula culture.


Pantsula — a nickname for the rebellious youth in the township – included a fashion, a music, a dance and most importantly, a lifestyle. And the tsotsis (thugs) of each township found pride in representing ther Pantsula culture of their township. As access to music equipment was limited to very few, most of this competitive spirit was played out in the street : who

dressed the fusionist and who had the flashiest dance steps. Pantsula therefore uses the street as theater to articulate the angst, joy and issues of the township, all coded in specific steps.

In the new South Africa, the dance has slowly moved out of the township, with is accompanying music « known as kwaito » and in to the commercial arena. This commercialization of the culture has let to it being diluted and less true to the survival spirit that gave birth to it.


Only few groups such as township-based Via Katlehong have managed to bring the creativity by putting the tap steels under nigh the shoe to create other dance rhythms (tap pantsula), whistle ling, shouting, clapping and sheering energy and rebellious attitude of Pantsula dance onto the stage with or without the music.

Gumboots dance was formed in the early fifties by the group of mine workers, to celebrate, to refresh their minds and for the toy toy (protest). But more than that Via Katlehong have managed to modernize it in such a way that it is worked and collaborated with tap, Steps, Pantsula and traditional music dance (Gum-step-tappantsula). They are all performing at the same time using their different language (rhythm) dance style making one energetic movement that creates big sound of rhythm. Boot, hand clapping, whistling, sinning, tap-sound… A lot of energy is demanded and it also enter-acts with the audience… it’s magic