US tourists visiting South Africa were so impressed by the terrific skills of two Soweto Pantsula dancers that they made the executive decision to invite them to New York City.
The street dancers, Junior Hlongwane and Jabulani Manyoni hailing from the famous Vilakazi Street in the world’s famous township, are due to travel to the US on 16 October 2013 for a number of corporate and public appearances, including a performance at the iconic Times Square.
Hlongwane and Manyoni, from the group of street dancers Skeleton Pantsula, were entertaining onlookers in front of the Mandela House Museum in Vilakazi Street in February this year, when they were spotted by a group of visitors from Forevermark US Incorporated, part of the De Beers group of companies.
The delegation was so intrigued by the skill, creativity and originality of the dancers’ moves – pantsula blended with jaw-dropping contortionism, agile acrobatics, hat tricks and humour – that they spontaneously gave them each a R1 000 (about US$100) donation as a token of their appreciation.
But the story did not end there.
In July a Forevermark representative contacted the dancers’ agent, Felix Oyetomi, via their South African tour guide, and told him that they were interested in bringing the dancers to New York to perform at a company event.
Now, the young mapantsula – who hail from humble backgrounds and did not even have bank accounts, let alone passports – have suddenly found themselves on the brink of international success.
Forevermark has made all the arrangements for their flights, accommodation and welfare while in New York, and the Department of Arts and Culture has warmly endorsed the cultural exchange and lent its support to help arrange their visas.
Photo: Pantsula fortunate dancers Junior and Jabulani