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I matriculated five years ago, and it was only after my first semester in varsity, that I stopped reminiscing about my high school days. Our school had a large population of pupils – to give you an idea of this; my class of 2016 had 386 learners – I still remember this number because the idea of standing out was shoved down our throats, and the grade 11 class had about 500 learners – the number increased as you go down the grades.

Being in a big school exposed me to a variety of experiences. There were drama clubs, the Skhothane’s (the rich kids), the debate clubs, and the dance crews. As I watched the brand-new Netflix JIVA! series episode 1, my mind was suddenly cluttered with memories of how dance crews back then would entertain us after school as we were waiting for transport. I believe that this is something that most black South Africans who went to public school can relate to. There are so many experiences that made schooling memorable, and the first episode of Jiva encapsulated that beautifully.

Jiva is a drama series about a street dancer who juggles a dead-end job, black tax, and has a rocky love life. Her life begins to change when she realises that dancing is the only way out of the sad life she is living.

It becomes clear in the pilot episode what this series is about, in fact, you would know what you’re in for at least 25 minutes into the pilot. This is a good thing. My rule of thumb when watching a new series or films is that I must be able to figure out where the story is going. Once I have done that, there’s the question, ‘is this story interesting enough?’ And since I have an idea of how the story might play out, are there questions that I need answers to? Jiva was interesting enough for me to continue watching, I binged watched in succession, and I have questions that need answers – which will probably be answered in season 2.

I applaud the casting director for their choices because the acting was phenomenal! Candice Modiselle who plays Vuyiswa, personally for me, is the breakout character. I was however looking forward to seeing Vuyiswa interact with Bontle Modiselle on the series as these two are real life sisters. It was quite fascinating to see two sisters who love dancing being part of a big production. Noxolo Dlamini who plays the lead character, Ntombi, absolutely embodied the role with fierceness that I have never seen before. South Africa doesn’t have many series or films that have a dance-based plot. This production was executed well, and it is worth noting that the lead characters are female – this is a big win for ‘open up the industry’.

When you decide to watch this series, it is guaranteed that you will remain seated throughout, because there are just too many story arcs around the plot, and these provide no room for detachment from you as the viewer.

What did you think of this dance series? Let us know in the comment section.