The French city of Lyon has presented the world premiere of a dance musical about the South African township Sophiatown.
Performed by ‘Via Katlehong Dance’, ‘Via Sophiatown’ is set in the Johannesburg suburb, which was a legendary black cultural hub during the ’40s and ’50s, similar to the Latin Quarter in Paris, London’s Soho or Berlin’s Kreuzberg.
Unlike others in South Africa, Sophiatown was a freehold township, making it one of the rare places in South African urban areas where black people were allowed to own land. As such, there was also a certain level of multicultural crossover.
Dancer Vusi Mduyi explained some of the township’s history:
“It’s one of the cities that was demolished in 1955 in South Africa. Where people used to live together in harmony, of different races,” he said. “You could find Indians, you could find coloured people…so we believe it’s one of the models that we can use in today’s life. As much as we are celebrating democracy in South Africa, we also wa