Stark poetry and powerful movement capture South African strife
For its debut U.S. tour, Garage Dance Ensemble presents a deeply personal and socially charged contemporary dance-theatre work combining stark poetry and powerful movement to capture the personal and political circumstances of the people of South Africa.
“Krummelpap, Scandals Wrapped in Prayer” comes to the Moss Arts Center for two performances — on Wednesday, Oct. 11, at 9 p.m. and Thursday, Oct. 12, at 7:30 p.m. (The Oct. 12 performance is sold out, but tickets are still available for Oct. 11.) Audience members will be seated on the stage for the performances, and the original text, written in a dialect of Afrikaans, will be presented in English. It is recommended for ages 14 and up, the performance contains adult language and mature themes.
An uncompromising narrative by award-winning poet Ronelda S. Kamfer is the soundtrack of the work. The movement spins out of these verses, exploring the emotional dynamics between generations struggling with poverty and discouragement, environmental degradation, and social chaos through the eyes of youth.
The work’s title brilliantly distills. Krummelpap is South Africa’s staple dish, eaten by young and old, rich and poor, urban and rural, white, and Black. Like American grits, it’s a porridge of corn meal and water, most often made for breakfast — a comfort food loaded with sustenance and also with strife.
While highly specific to the community it engages, the movements, words, and emotions of the performance resonate universally: shame and violence, longing and resilience run through the work. Though rough and unsettling in its subject matter, “Krummelpap, Scandals Wrapped in Prayer” has moments of joy and exuberance, tension and release.
“We get to a deep dark space at moments in the piece, and then it’s time to release the audience a bit,” said Alfred Hinkel, Garage Dance Ensemble co-founder. “After one particularly intense section, we include a duet to a love song and later on a duet to local traditional music, in traditional costumes.”
In many ways, Garage Dance Ensemble traces South Africa’s recent past and current circumstances. The group’s home is O’Kiep, a remote former mining area in the Namaqualand (Northern Cape) region of South Africa, not far from the border with Namibia, and its dancers are youthful co-creators in the work, many of them hailing from backgrounds still too rarely featured on South African mainstream stages.
Garage Dance Ensemble’s U.S. tour is part of Center Stage, the cultural exchange program that connects performing artists from abroad with American communities. Six other music, theatre, and dance ensembles from South Africa, Ethiopia, and the Philippines will also make independent tours or hold in-depth residencies with the program, promoting global ties and engaging with audiences on and off stage and online.
Related engagement events
Workshop with Garage Dance Ensemble
- Tuesday, Oct. 10, 6 p.m.
- The Cube
- Free; registration required
- Join members of the ensemble for this session focused on dance technique, rooted in the company’s unique practice of “give and take.”
Post-performance question-and-answer sessions
- Oct. 11-12, immediately following each performance
- Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre
- The ensemble’s performances offer an opportunity to speak with the artists about the development of their original work.
Opportunities for Virginia Tech students
Garage Dance Ensemble members will speak with students in Africana Studies, Dance, and Women’s and Gender Studies courses about their work in Namaqualand, South Africa. In addition, student members of the Wahala Dance Team at Virginia Tech will participate in a workshop with the artists, learning dance techniques and the ensemble’s distinctive approach to choreography.
Tickets for the performance are $30 for general admission and $10 for students and youth 18 and under. Tickets can be purchased online; at the Moss Arts Center's box office, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; or by calling 540-231-5300 during box office hours.
Venue and parking information
The performance will be held in the center’s Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre, located within the Street and Davis Performance Hall at 190 Alumni Mall. Convenient parking is available in the North End Parking Garage on Turner Street and in downtown Blacksburg. Find more parking details online.
If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact Jamie Wiggert at least 10 days prior to the event at 540-231-5300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org during regular business hours.
Support for the performance
This performance is co-sponsored by the Black Cultural Center and supported in part by a gift from the Easels. Additional funding is provided by the Joe and Linda Hopkins Arts Enrichment Fund.
Garage Dance Ensemble is part of Center Stage, a public diplomacy initiative of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs with funding provided by the U.S. government, administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts in cooperation with the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations. General management is provided by Lisa Booth Management Inc.