Let's dance! Jiva actresses tell us about their exciting Netflix series

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Jiva is a South African Netflix original that follows the lives of five female dancers as they fight to become successful dancers.
Jiva is a South African Netflix original that follows the lives of five female dancers as they fight to become successful dancers.
Netflix SA/ supplied

When South Africans are happy, they dance. When they are going through the most, they dance and when they are celebrating traditional moments, they dance.

We've seen graduates bursting out moves as they cross the stage and dance challenges sweeping through the country.

Dance is a part of the SA culture and it's going to be highlighted in the new South African Netflix original series, Jiva.

The series went live on Thursday, 24 November and is about dancing, drama, rivalry and the celebration of girl power and sisterhood.

It follows the lives of five South African female dancers as they showcase their talent through different dance styles and bring to life the competitive dance scene in Umlazi, Durban.

The star studded series has a lot of young talent and is set to be filled with drama, laughs, tears and an inspiring storyline of overcoming one’s fears.

Jiva follows the life of struggling dancer Ntombi, played by Noxolo Dlamini, as she finds herself at a crossroad in her life stuck between working a 9-5 and pursuing her true passion, which is dancing.

On her journey to being a successful dancer Ntombi forms a dance group called the Trollies, made up of four talented women. 

“I love Ntombi because I understand her, I empathise with her, and I am rooting for her too. She is in a quarter life crisis where she is trying to figure out which side she is going. We see her internal conflict throughout the series, she is trying to make it in this life by doing what she truly loves but circumstances. Her story is inspirational because she is fighting for something she believes in,” Noxolo tells Drum.

Ntombi’s character is supported by her best friend Vuyiswa, played by Candice Modiselle and she says that the series allowed her to tap into her dancing talent and helped her to start embracing her pure talent when it comes to the arts.

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“She is a very mysterious support structure in Ntombi’s life. There are many layers to her that many women can relate to. People will fall in love with her aesthetic and the life she portrays, the series is going to take viewers on the characters journey where they are rooting for their wins but in some moment, they will be questioning their decisions. Vuyiswa is unapologetic and I trust that many people will be able to relate to her story.”

The friendship between Ntombi and Vuyiswa is the glue that connects all the other dancers in the series mainly Sne Mbatha who plays Zinhle, Stella Dlangala (Lady E) and Zazi Kunene (Nolwazi).

The five girls are brought together by their passion for dancing, and in the series, they tackle all kinds of dances. They will move amapiano, do the Pantsula and street dance.

Watch the trailer here: 

Choreographed by Bontle Modiselle and Tom London, the show explores all there is to dancing in South Africa and bringing all moves to the centre world stage.

“I play Nolwazi who is the popular girl in high school and she’s the youngest. She’s the light of the group and she is just trying to live her life. She is always asking question and she brings the comedic relief in the group and when she joins the girls she is inspired because they are everything she wants to be,” Zazi tells Drum.

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Stella tells us a bit about her character. “Lady E is the one that is focused, and she is very reserved and out there at the same time. She’s a gents girl who prefers to be around gents, she’s the gender fluid queer one in the group and she just wants to get the work done,” Stella says.

The women enjoyed working with one another as they provided a safe space for each other while they tapped into their dancing skills.

“We created such a safe space, and we wanted the best for each other. We wanted to represent the characters in a way that did our craft a justice and integrity. We are exceptionally trained performers and its our experience that made it very easy to work well with each other. We fell in love with each other’s black excellence and boldness,” Candice explained.

“Working with her was so much fun and we took was written in the script and colour it in, it warmed me to know that we had a connection playing best friends although we weren’t best best friends in real life,” Noxolo continued.

Viewers can expect fun and authenticity and South African dance culture as the five actresses have committed themselves to giving the series all they can.

“People should expect incredible dancing with incredible actresses, and they are going to be blown away by the storyline.”
Stella Dlangala

It was not easy for all the ladies to step into their dance characters, particularly for Candice. She shares that she had to fight off imposter syndrome while on set but she is grateful because it helped her rise to the expectation of the character.

“I have been trained on stage in the dance medium, it wasn’t completely unfamiliar. I was challenged in wanting to represent street culture and street dance with excellence and fun. Everyone carried me. I can own the fact that I was very insecure, there were so many moments where I felt like I could not rise to the occasion not because I was not good; I was hand picked for the role and I wasn’t going to let imposter syndrome steal that from me. I had to push through the fear and the doubt. Everyone on set was able to effortlessly support me."

The series highlights that all dreams are possible if we are willing to fight them to become a reality. 

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