Artist Profiles: Shikisha

Shikisha – Photo by Michael G. Spafford

Shikisha included four South African women who performed traditional Zulu, Sotho, Xhosa and Shangaan dances, chants and drumming plus exhilarating street dances, and original songs set to township music.

Shikisha’s performances started with traditional drumming and chants, reflecting ceremonies and day-to-day events of tribal life, including birth, circumcision, war and marriage.

‘The Miners’ Gumboot Dance’ is a hybrid dance, developed from the different tribal traditions among the gold miners of Johannesburg, South Africa. This energetic and amusing dance form, crosses all language barriers within the miners. These miners are confined in the compounds without any entertainment provided, so they gather every Sunday to release frustration by entertaining themselves.

Shikisha from the Zulu word ‘Belt it out, included:

Julia Mathunjwa, born in Durban-Sout Africa. When she was in School, she trained as a model. In 1973 she joined a production Umabatha (the Zulu version of Macbeth). Later she toured in Europe with the ” Black and White is a Beautiful Show “. 1974 she joined Ipi Tombi and when the show came to London she decided to make it her home. She continued to work in West End theaters until she decided to found Shikisha in 1981.

Thokozile Nogabe and Sindisiwe Shange, two South African artists, joined Shikisha in 1991 and were trained by Julia Mathunjwa. They both performed in ‘Sarafina‘ a South African musical that won an award in Broadway in 1990.


Belt It Out! (John Francis Production, 1996)
Jive Shikisha! (Westside, 1998)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.

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