Everyone needs a little joy in their life, and when the pandemic hit and many countries went into lockdown, this proved more important than ever. During the first lockdown Mrs Gedye, our Head of Music in the Prep School, came across the Jerusalema Dance Challenge when her family and friends in Zimbabwe and South Africa started to share it on social media. In the weeks and months that followed, it grew and grew in popularity to become a global phenomenon. Initially, Mrs Gedye thought it would make a good piece of music for our Y8 boys, who were studying the origins of Blues and Jazz, to explore in class. However, she could not get Jerusalema out of her head, as she loved the concept, the music and the message of community and working together, and thought it would be a fun project to do with the Prep School when lockdown was over. With social distancing, no sharing of instruments and even singing in doubt as we looked to return to school, Jerusalema offered a wonderful way to unite the boys as a community through music.  

Mrs Gedye told us, “I also thought Jerusalema played perfectly into our Future Skills curriculum, requiring perseverance, resilience and endeavour, as well as giving the boys a challenge most had not done before and felt was out of most of their comfort zone…perfect!”

I often have found it quite interesting that the boys insist that they can’t/don’t like dancing. In fact, I have found whenever they do choreographed movement for all our school musicals, they generally end up enjoying it and do it brilliantly! Hence, I embraced the challenge of getting the whole school to learn this dance and putting together a Bedford Prep Jerusalema Dance Challenge video.” 

‘If you can walk you can dance,
if you can talk you can sing’

Zimbabwean Proverb

In the weeks that followed, boys, their families and teachers worked hard to learn, practice and perfect the dance moves, ready for filming at the end of the spring term.  

We are now proud to share the product of all their hard work – their version of Jerusalema. We hope that the boys’ delight in making this film is evident and that it helps to lift spirits and spread a little joy even further. 

Mrs Gedye told us, “Our boys have been absolutely amazing throughout this experience and have risen to every challenge, whether initially learning the dance sitting on stools in the EMH, realising that my right foot was actually their left foot(!), using the online video tutorials when we were suddenly thrown into Lockdown 3 or dancing outside on the Astro in just about every kind of weather imaginable when we finally returned to school! Their resilience, perseverance, sense of humour and camaraderie has been second to none.  

This whole project has been so exciting and stimulating to work on, and I hope that all the boys, too, have enjoyed doing something a little different in our music lessons during this extraordinary year. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed working with all our Prep boys, staff and particularly Mark Lewis on this project, and am thrilled with the final video. Congrats, guys – thank you for all your hard work – I am so proud of you!”

Jerusalema, by South African house musician Master KG, was originally released in 2019 but went viral after Angolan dance troupe Fenómenos do Semba choreographed a dance to it and shared it online – inspiring groups across the world to join in.  

Master KG told South African newspaper Sowetan: “It’s so beautiful to see how Jerusalema has taken over the world, to see how far it has gone.” We agree!

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