A film about the music dance and spirit possession practices of the Ojtiherero language-speaking groups of north-western Namibia and south-western Angola.The film explores the various ways in which music and dance transcend their everyday lives from infancy to death.
A unique voyage through the music, dance and spirit possession practices of the Ovahimba communities of north-western Namibia and south-western Angola, Keep the Dance Alive features remarkable footage of how dance and spirit possession is integrated into everyday life from infancy to death.
The documentary presents a singular vision of the Ovahimba people, that of director Rina Sherman who filmed the lives of an Omuhimba family for seven years. She focuses on how singing, rhythm and voice work together with dance and spirit possession to compose a complete imaginary universe and a dense and complex social structure.
Keep the Dance Alive is part of The Ovahimba Years Project, a long-term multi-disciplinary ethnographic study of the Ovahimba and other Otjiherero-language-speaking peoples of northwestern Namibia and southwestern Angola.
"The film itself is quite marvelous, and will be particularly fascinating for those with an interest in anthropology, music, and particularly you ethnomusicologists out there." — Theresa Anasti, Feminist Review
"Sherman's filming is unobtrusive, even in the most intimate of spaces. Some of the strongest moments are those when Sherman both shows and tells us how youth learn these rhythms and movements in and out of various contexts… The film, then, could be useful for classroom discussions, particularly if students have already read about similar practices. In these regards, the supplementary materials and the broader context of the Ovahimba Years project are important to note (www.ovahimba.rinasherman.com), as the film is probably best situated among the larger project's many hard-earned materials… The long-term ethnographic engagement Sherman has achieved cannot be feigned and should be lauded." — Scott Edmondson, American Anthropologist, Vol. 754, No. 1 (Read the full review)