Roll Call: Die Nuwe Graskoue Trappers

Programme Notes: CTMT 2015

“Traditional Riel Dance is recognised as the oldest dance form in South Africa and as a creative cultural expression. Born out of traditional Khoi and San ceremonial dances around the fire, the Riel Dance has been practiced by descendants of these indigenous cultures for many years. Recognised as a form of cultural expression, the Riel was very popular in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, but has been neglected in recent decades. Popular Riel Dances include courtship rituals mimicking animal antics, along with lots of bravado, showmanship and foot stomping. Riel has only recently been revived through the efforts of writer and storyteller Elias Nel of the Afrikaanse Taal & Kultuurvereniging (ATKV) to maintain the existence and survival of the dance.

Dancers are dressed in traditional farm workers’ outfits – the girls in dresses with aprons and old frontier bonnets, and the boys in waistcoats and hats adorned with feathers, finished with the famous, hand-made red veldskoene.

The revival of traditional Riel Dance in and around Wupperthal is a community initiative close to the heart of BushmansKloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat. Founded in late 2012 by BushmansKloof’s Executive Chef and Assistant Manager Floris Smith, the lodge’s Junior Riel Dance troupe, Die Nuwe Graskoue Trappers, have been trailblazing their way across the Riel Dance scene. The name of the troupe incorporates the names of some of the villages from which the children come: NuwePlaas, Grasvlei, Koueberg, Suurrug and AgtersteVlei.

The troupe made their debut with much success at the annual Riel Dance Championship Final in December 2013, where Die Nuwe Graskoue Trappers became the ATKV Junior Riel Dance Champions 2013. Since then the troupe has been scooping many top awards. The troupe’s  equally talented band has also been excelling in various categories. They took the Gold medal in the Open as well as the Original Categories, and also won the Overall Trophy Award in the Original Category.

The successful performances of the dance troupe and the band qualified them as Team South Africa 2015, which led to them being invited to take part in the World Championships of Performing Arts (WCOPA) in Los Angeles, where they won many medals.” (CTMT 2015)