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  • Writer's pictureScottnes Leeroy Smith

The GUARDIAN Article

The joy of Jiva! Netflix’s South African dance series bursts from the screen

Local styles such as pantsula and bhenga burst from the screen in a glossy new series featuring real dance crews

The townships of South Africa are a fertile ground for dynamic new moves, from the pantsula dance popularised in the 80s to recent forms such as bhenga, danced to the raw, repetitive beats of gqom music or the house style amapiano. Once hyper-local trends, now you can see dancers demo-ing their skills on YouTube, dancing in streets or school yards.

But another introduction to South African street dance comes by way of Netflix drama Jiva!, set in the township of Umlazi, in Durban. Meet Ntombi (Noxolo Dlamini), an ace dancer who gave up her dream career after a family tragedy and works at an aquarium, dressed as an octopus. She was betrayed by her ex-boyfriend, now a big reality TV star dripping with bling and the leader of the dance crew Soweto Cats, who have come back to town for a dance contest. Ntombi’s passion for dance is reignited and she sets up a rival crew to compete for the million rand prize.

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