Journal of
Music and Dance

  • Abbreviation: J. Music Dance
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2360-8579
  • DOI: 10.5897/JMD
  • Start Year: 2011
  • Published Articles: 23


Exploring the complexities of black male identities in South African theatre dance

Maxwell Xolani Rani
  • Maxwell Xolani Rani
  • University of Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 04 December 2014
  •  Accepted: 27 July 2015
  •  Published: 31 August 2015


The perception of professional black male dancers in black communities in South Africa is that of a homosexual man. However, little if any systematic research has investigated the validity of this stereotype, much less the reasons why male sexual orientation would be associated with interest in dance. Many male dance figures pursuing dance as a career in Cape Town, South Africa have often been faced with difficult questions and stigmas. In many dance societies in Cape Town, male dancers are classified as homosexual - black males who decide to pursue a dance career are not only often questioned about their sexual preference, but also carry the negative baggage and stereotypes that have been historically predetermined for them given their “black physique”. In this paper the author analyzed the concept of masculinity in terms of Western ideologies embedded in this definition and draw attention to the limited applicability of such a definition to black South African dancers in Cape Town. The paper interrogates the historical stereotypes that have been deeply entrenched on the black male dancer’s physique and the manner in which these stereotypes continue to be prevalent. It then investigates the attitudes to black male dancers in different regions that share similar contexts. Towards the end, article looks at overall similarities that male dancers face irrespective of racial factors. In this paper it is argued that the same Eurocentric standards in relation to homosexuality held for white dancers should not be held for black South African male dancers, as racial differences vastly impact the understanding and perception of these two different racial groups.


Key words: Masculinity, dance, homosexuality, stereotype and black male physique.