South Africa: Ballet Blood - SA Dancer Brings Miners' Blood, Sweat and Tears to British Stage

analysis

South Africa's history is etched bitterly with the past, present and future of its gold mining industries. It's hardly the subject for a ballet.

Gold mining has always been an industry of dispossession, racism, vicious hardship, disease and dislocation. Yet, occasionally it has also been an industry of heroic resistance to that oppression, notably the great miners' strikes of 1946 and 1987 and then the strike on the North West platinum belt in 2012 that led to the Marikana massacre.

On 1 November this year, on the spur of the moment I was drawn to a ballet at the Oxford Playhouse in London. It was titled Triple Bill and my interest was piqued because the ballet company was exclusively black and one of the dances, so I was told, was about the 1946 mineworkers strike in South Africa. In the midst of an overwhelmingly white audience, watching Ingoma (the name given to the ballet) I wondered if mineworkers could ever imagine that their daily grind would be transformed into the stuff of ballet; that their pain and oppression would be turned into a performance of dignity, in a far-off city they could never imagine.

Yet, that is what South African...

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