Scene & Heard

Deeper than dance

Michael Moloi (left) and Joshua Caraco (right) perform for a small crowd at the Cottage Grove Armory, Saturday, Dec.7. Moloi danced the gumboot and pantsula, while Caraco played the kora. Cody Warren/The Chronicle

COTTAGE GROVE – South African artist Tumelo Michael Moloi dazzled a small crowd last week at the Cottage Grove Armory with his dance moves, even prompting the crowd to learn the steps.
From Katlehong, Johannesburg, South Africa, Moloi has made a career out of dance. However, it’s deeper than dance to Moloi. His goal is to educate crowds through his moves. The dancing that Moloi performs tell the tale of the experience and hardships of gold mine workers in South Africa.
In the past, black South African mine workers were not able to speak to one another so they used the sounds of pats, claps and stomps to communicate in code. This type of communication and dance is referred to as Gumboot.
A second style of dance that Moloi performs is Pantsula. Pantsula is a dance that was developed on the streets of Johannesburg during the era of apartheid and includes quick, syncopated movements, mimicking scenes of daily life in South Africa.
Moloi’s skills earned him a role performing in Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas for 11 years, beginning in 2005. As a featured artist, he was given a four-minute solo in the middle of each show where he would dance the gumboot. Moloi said dancing with Cirque ”was a blast.”
But Moloi had new goals near the end of this career with Cirque du Soleil. He said, ”I just decided that I wanted to do more teaching and talking about the story, and sharing who I am and what I am and the language of my dance to the world.”
To help with this goal Moloi has begun working with musician Joshua Caraco, who plays the kora: a West African stringed instrument. Caraco plays while Moloi dances and shares the story of South African mine workers. The pair have started to book gigs around Oregon at venues such as libraries, tasting rooms and markets.
Similar to the talented and hardworking South Africans who came before him, Moloi said that he wants to create language through dance and music that is universal.



View this profile on Instagram


The Chronicle (@thechronicle1909) • Instagram photos and videos