This year’s 12th Riel Dance competition which took place at the Taalmonument in Paarl…

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This year’s 12th Riel Dance competition which took place at the Taalmonument in Paarl in the Boland did not disappoint. It is part of plans to preserve an ancient celebratory dance traditionally performed by the Khoi and San. The Riel Dance as an art form nearly became extinct because of factors such as urbanisation and popular culture. The “Riel” as it is known, was popular amongst farm workers between the 1940’s and the 1960’s. Today’s dancers try to capture something of that era in their costumes. Thanks to the intervention of the Afrikaanse Taal en Kultuur Vereniging or Afrikaans Language and Cultural Association, this this dance form has been revived, especially among the youth. 89 groups competed countrywide for a place in the final where they danced up a dust storm. For Riel dancers, this unique dance form is much more than just a hobby, it’s in their blood and a proud part of the heritage and history.















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