On the 5th of September, a Cape Town choreographer posted his new dance video on YouTube. Just one hour later, it had twenty-nine thousand views. Hitting viral status and gaining international interest within less than 24 hours, this video garnered some awesome attention for local South African talent.
Rudi Smit, the choreographer, has been a known talent for a while, with some really impressive videos behind his name. But the pure scale of this latest one, with arguably the best dancers in the country, has catapulted it into a world-class status in more ways than one.
Using a relatively mainstream song, Meghan Trainor’s hit Me Too, was something that definitely helped. When approached for comment, Rudi said the main goal was that he wanted it to reach Meghan. And two days ago, that is exactly what happened – with Meghan tweeting the video to all her fans, with the caption “wow wow wow unbelievable… slay my life!” By 10pm on Wednesday night, it had hit over 378 000 views.
This is an awesome example of how the young people of Africa actually have a valid place on the world stage. I have been a long believer in the talent in Africa. Musically we boast some of the best singers and producers in the world. Being part of a few global productions, I have seen how the standard of dance in our nation is something to be proud of as well. And when a few passionate young people come together with a dream to impress the world, it can actually happen.
It is about time that our continent shrugs the idea that our creativity has no place on the world stage. Yes, the industry needs a considerable makeover in ideology and level of excellence, but with independent directors and editors like those on display in this video, I have no doubt that we will make an impact. If not through television or official channels, then YouTube.
One of the main things that I find awesome about this specific video is the conviction of the choreography and the character of the dancers. There is no question that they believe in what they are doing. In an industry that needs a whole lot more belief, it is going to take people like this – artists that believe in themselves – to truly make a contribution to the world.
Some industry bigwigs would probably pose the question, “But is it African?” I am a true believer that African art does not need a talking drum or traditional clothing to be authentic. The music is not African, yes. But the dancers – their ethnicity, style choice, attitude and choreography – are home grown. Is it unique? Then it is African. It stems from our environment. It includes our people. It makes our people proud. It features some awesome mountain vistas.
I am praying for the day that people open themselves up to genuine expression rather than idioms that harken to the past rather than pushing forward. When honesty and authenticity are at the heart of any piece of art, it is worth lauding and promoting. Big ups to Rudi and his crew! You guys just proved we can do it.