Bushmans Kloof's Champion Riel Dance Troupe Returns Home with the Gold and Silver from World Championships of Performing Arts

DELRAY BEACH, FL, July 24, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Bushmans Kloof's Die Nuwe Graskoue Trappers Riel dance troupe from Wupperthal in the Cederberg Mountains of South Africa returned home from the 19th annual World Championships of Performing Arts (WCOPA) on Wednesday, July 22nd in a blaze of glory, having placed one of South Africa's oldest indigenous ethnic folk dances firmly on the global map. 

As part of "Team South Africa" they danced their way to victory - scooping up three Gold medals and one Silver. Not only did they bring back the Gold in the Ethnic Folk Dance category, they won two Gold medals in the Open Dance and Tap Dance categories, and one Silver in the Open Dance category for their spectacular Gumboot routine. They also made it through to the Semi-finals of the Grand Champion Dance Group of the World Award, as one of only three acts across the globe. Earlier in the week the troupe won Gold for Best Dance Production in the Production Line competition, backed by their equally talented Riel band, whose vibey accompaniment is integral to their performance.

The Band took honors too with Silver medals in the Instrumental Open, Instrumental Jazz and Instrumental Original categories. They also took a Bronze medal in the Instrumental Open Trio category. Guitarist Efraum Kotze impressed the judges with his riveting guitar solos, winning Silver in the Instrumental Open and Instrumental Original categories and a Bronze in the Instrumental Jazz category. He also made it through to the Semi-finals for the Grand Champion Instrumentalist award in the Senior category.

They competed with contestants from more than 60 countries across the world in the 2015 World Championships of Performing Arts - also known as the world's "Talent Olympics" for aspiring performers, with categories encompassing song, dance and acting. Aside from vying for the Gold, contestants also competed for scholarships from the Millennium Dance Complex, the New York Film Academy, and the New York Conservatory for Film and Television.

The 17 members of the Riel dance troupe (all between the ages of 13 and 19) come from the rural community of Wupperthal and other villages in the Cederberg area, and include two teenagers who live on site with their parents at Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat. The troupe's manager Floris Smith is the Executive Chef and Deputy General Manager at Bushmans Kloof, where the owners and management have supported Die Nuwe GrasKoue Trappers since the troupe was established in 2012. Bushmans Kloof and its owners, the Tollman family are also the major sponsors.   

Smith says, "This is the ultimate reward for all the hard work we've put in over the past three years and all the sacrifices we've made. We can hold our heads up high now knowing that we have shown the world that we are among the best of the best. Our Gold and Silver medals belong not only to us, but to the community of Wupperthal, to Bushmans Kloof and its owners the Tollman family, and to all the people of South Africa, who believed in us and supported us. Thank you. You gave us the wings to fly."

It was his unwavering faith in the ability of his "Trappers" that got them to the world championships. He spent the preceding months sourcing funding to the tune of almost $1 million ZAR (approximately $80,400 USD) to get the 17 young members of Die Nuwe Graskoue Trappers and their band to Los Angeles, California to compete on the world stage. Apart from Bushmans Kloof and the Tollman family, other major sponsors who came onboard are Rooibos Limited, WESGRO and Reagola IT Management.

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. Riel dancers are dressed typically 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 from Wupperthal. This traditional dance form is recognized as a creative cultural expression, and includes courtship rituals, mimicking typical animal antics along with lots of bravado, showmanship and foot stomping.

To qualify for the World Championships, Die Nuwe Graskoue Trappers walked away with the GRAND CHAMPION AWARD for BEST GROUP PERFORMANCE at the 2014 South African Performing Arts Championships, also having won in three categories: the Ethnic Folk category dancing Riel; the Open Large Group for their Riel Tap routine; and the Open Small Group for their Gumboot routine. Their equally talented Riel band won the OVERALL TROPHY AWARD for the Original category and took the GOLD medal in both the Open, as well as the Original categories. They followed this by winning top spot for the second year running in the Under 18 category of the annual ATKV Riel Dance championships held in December 2014.

For the latest news and updates, follow Die Nuwe Graskoue Trappers on Facebook under Die Nuwe Graskoue Trappers or Wupperthal BK Riel Family.

For details, please contact Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat at +27 21 481 1860, email: info@bushmanskloof.co.za, or visit us online at www.bushmanskloof.co.za.

About Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat
Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat is a luxurious ecological oasis situated at the foothills of the breathtaking Cederberg mountains. Nearly 19,000 acres of majestic views, staggering rock formations, open plains and invigorating outdoor activities cumulate to create an unforgettable wilderness adventure. The five-star resort features 16 luxurious rooms and suites, award-winning Cape cuisine and a complete wellness experience deeply rooted in nature. Bushmans Kloof also offers its private Koro Lodge to families and groups of travelers, featuring the fully-independent services of a guide, game viewing vehicle, and dedicated chef and hostess.

Bushmans Kloof is located less than three hours from Cape Town and is consistently recognized for its award-winning environmental and conservation projects. The entire reserve is malaria- and predator-free, serving as a sanctuary for endangered species, indigenous plants, and a variety of birds and animals. It is one of South Africa's Natural Heritage Sites as well as part of the Cape Floral Kingdom and home to more than 130 ancient Bushman rock art sites. Condé Nast Traveler readers recently voted Bushmans Kloof, a member of Relais & Châteaux, as the #1 'Resort and Safari Camp in Africa,' as well as the #3 'Top 100 Hotel and Resort in the World' during their 2013 Readers' Choice Awards. The gorgeous reserve has won numerous annual awards for its exceptional hospitality and opulent accommodations from National Geographic Traveler, Condé Nast Traveler, and Travel + Leisure.

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