[Update 08/24/2015] We’re pleased to announce that Jake Sumner’s film, “Magic Hat” has been included in Banksy’s epic Dismaland, an art theme park that opened last weekend in the UK. Photos of the installation, which includes works by fifty artists including Damien Hirst, Bill Barminski, Caitlin Cherry, Polly Morgan, Josh Keyes, Mike Ross, David Shrigley, Bäst, Espo and Banksy himself are available via Colossal Media. In honor of Jake’s inclusion, we’re proud to republish our initial article on his film.
“Magic Hats” is a short film showcasing the jaw-dropping dancing of Jabu and JR, two life-long dancers from Soweto, South Africa, whose mastery of the human form and technique takes their jaw-dropping interpretation of pantsula dance to new levels.
“We were driving through the streets and we saw these guys out the window, spinning their hats in the air, and we just had to stop,” says Sumner. “Watching them perform, we were so blown away, and asked if we could film them. They perform on that corner every day, and have been dancing since childhood.”
The video was shot on Vilakazi street in Soweto, one of the most famous streets in Johannesburg, as the only place in the world that has been home to two Noble Peace Prize laureates: Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Nelson Mandela. The dance style, pantsula, is common in Johannesburg and has been around since the 80’s, following a similar appreciation and history in South Africa to that of breakdancing. The term means “to waddle like a duck,” and while there are many variations, few combine Jabu and JR’s magic tricks and contortions. The film features music by The Movers, a 60‘s South African psychedelic band.
In recent years various dance duos have gained mass popularity for similar styles, including Tofo Tofo, famously discovered from posting their performance videos online. Said Sumner of the comparison, “It’s amazing that Beyoncé saw their videos and flew those guys over to teach her a dance routine. I appreciate anybody who can move like that and make it look so simple. I don’t think the camera really does it justice.”