national Arts Festival Banner

Thursday, February 9, 2023



(Photographs supplied)

The Playhouse Company, an Agency of the Department of Sport, Arts & Culture, is pleased to announce that its 10th annual Ingoma Competition will take place on March 18 2023.

The event has charted an increasingly successful course since it was launched more than a decade ago. Now, following a two-year gap due to the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020, the hugely popular event makes a triumphant return to eThekwini’s Curries Fountain in Berea, the outdoors venue where it is traditionally held.

This year’s 10th anniversary landmark will showcase 42 Zulu dance groups, who will pit their skills against each other in their bids to take home the coveted prizes in each category. Groups will be judged on their performances in the following seven dance style categories: Isigekle; uShameni; Ingoma Yezinsizwa; Ingoma Yezintombi; Ingoma Sikhuze; Indlamu; and Umzansi.

The seven different styles of traditional dance, in more detail, are as follows:


This style was created for women, ideally married women, as an alternative to Amahubo, a dance strictly for men chanting to ancestors. Performed at weddings, Isigekle is accompanied by singing, clapping and drumming, and dancers avoid raising their feet too high to show respect. Dancers wear headgear (“isicholo”) and traditional skirts (“isidwaba”). They carry small shields and knobkerries, and each group has a specific theme and costume colour scheme.



Accompanied by singing, clapping and drumbeats, this highly exciting dance form features bare feet and traditional costumes, including a form of animal-skin apron. The dance is commonly performed during young men’s rite of passage formalities, as well as at weddings and other traditional ceremonies. It is most distinctive for the dancer having to keep a leg straight while kicking it up to reach the side of the ears. Dancers carry shields and decorated sticks.



Performed with small shields and sticks, this is a beguiling, striking war dance that was introduced by Shaka Zulu to psyche up his Ambato (warriors) while they were being prepared for battle. Resembling a military drill with strict precision, the dance style has dancers following a specific pattern, accompanied by drums and minimal singing. A lot of showing off is highlighted, accompanied by much loud whistling, to lend encouragement to whoever is dancing at the time.



The history specific to uMzansi dancing, as recounted by Clegg, “is that it originated around Bergville, Ndwedwe, Maphumulo and the Umvoti area of KwaZulu-Natal, it was taken up by the migrant workers around eThekwini and became very popular at the organized dance competitions that were held around the end of each year.



Named after the Shameni River in Umsinga, KwaZulu-Natal, this style was formed at a time when railways were being built. It is a variation of Ingoma yezinsizwa, mixed with Indlamu, but with a regional flair. Dancers bend one leg during the dance to show the ankle, and they follow specific line formations, stretching their hands up high, while accompanied by singers who also clap. The dancers wear pants and vests or T-shirts, as well as traditional sandals (“udabuluzwane”).



This colourful dance is specific to maidens. It is linked to different rite-of-passage ceremonies for young girls – such as when they reach puberty, undergo virginity tests or to celebrate lobola and weddings. The dance is accompanied by drumming, clapping and singing, and the music is highly energetic. The dancers’ costumes are traditional skirts made from colourful beads. A requirement of the dance is that legs have to be raised high.



This dance, another variation of Ingoma yezinsizwa, originated in the Umbumbulu region, becoming popular after the arrival of the missionaries. A pattern formation, known as “isifuba”, performed by more experienced dancers, is at the centre of this dance style. It is supported by “isipani”, referring to dancers that shadow whatever is done by “isifuba: The typical costume consists of thigh-length socks with stripes and short skirts (sometimes rugby shorts). The leg is not raised very high in this dance, for which dancers carry shields and traditional sticks which are also used to create formations. Accompaniment is via song and handclapping (“ukukhwahla”).


The Indlamu Competition is proudly presented in accordance with The Playhouse Company’s mandate to produce diversely equitable live productions in the fields of music, drama, and dance, throughout KwaZulu-Natal.

The competition starts promptly at 09h00.

Admission is free and all are welcome.