The Phathisi dance of Botswana: Decoding the meanings in the traditional performances of a dance
Journal of the Musical Arts in Africa
Department of Music and Musicology, Rhodes University, South Africa
This article presents a study of the Bakwena Phathisi dance by a non-Bakwena group, the Diwetse Cultural Troupe. It is based on interviews with members of the troupe and audience members at performances given by the troupe. The study examines how the Diwetse Cultural Troupe engages with and interprets the Phathisi dance before, during and after performance, seeking to understand the performance structure and essential features of the dance such as gender roles, attire, basic sequences as well as the relationship between what is deemed traditional or modern. The article focuses on decoding the embedded meanings in Phathisi performances with the aim of contextualising a Mokwena herdboy's lifestyle (represented by the dancer), his environment and in the Kweneng region. This study also explores how the historical and cultural traits of the dance are recreated, choreographed and presented to the audience. © 2014 NISC (Pty) Ltd.