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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

DANCING UP A STORM IN GRAHAMSTOWN (article first published : 2008-06-14)

The National Arts Festival is just around the corner – under three weeks away until blast off into creativity in Grahamstown! Connect with the movers and groovers in the arts industry and catch the ‘best of the fest’ – pick up the free Booking Kits at selected Standard Bank branches and Computicket outlets nationwide – and join us for a turbo-charged experience of a lifetime!

In 2008 there’s a brand new venue in town – the Bots Marquee – situated in the magical and historic Botanical Gardens. The braziers will be burning to ward off the winter chill – but the pulsating rhythm of the djembes and the energy and charisma of the pantsula, amapondo, and marabi dancers should be enough to kindle a fire in just about everyone!

The marquee will be home to some of the best examples of cultural and indigenous dance – the Mzansi Zulu dancers will show you just what they taught Johnny Clegg; the Pumelela Traditional Dance troupe celebrate the indigenous dance of the Nqamakwe district; the Port St John’s Cultural Dance Ensemble reveal the popular imigidi (wedding) dances of Pondoland, and Pantsula 4 Life revels in the unmitigated pleasure of high-energy Pantsula dance.

‘Tripping the light fantastic’ is something that Fringe artists do extremely well! And the Cape Academy of Performing Arts is no exception – this year using music from George Gershwin, Vanessa Mae and other popular musicians in a contemporary / classical dance piece. Described as ‘captivating’, ‘stunning’ and ‘riveting’ at the 2007 Festival, one wonders what adjectives will be used in 2008!

The Cape Dance Company, fresh from a tour of Salisbury in the UK, brings South African premières of two stylistically juxtaposed works: Molo Wethu, choreographed by Gregory Vuyani Maqoma, and Soukora, choreographed by Kitty Phetla. Sean Bovim’s Festival 2007 piece, Indlela, returns for an encore, following standing ovations in Grahamstown last year. All three pieces demonstrate the trademark athletic physicality of the company.

Lesego Rampolokeng, Bobby Rodwell, Nelisiwe Xaba and Lulu Mlangeni team up in Bantu Ghost: A Stream of (black) Unconsciousness. A stirring tribute, that combines spoken word with movement, to honour black thinkers across the decades – Cesaire, Fanon, Sobukwe, Gwala, Cabral, Lumumba, Baraka and others.

The Northern Dance Project’s Women of War is also a tribute – to the strength and roles of women in wartime situations. Going back to the Anglo Boer War and Emily Hobhouse’s role in alerting the world to the horrors of the British concentration camps, it transverses geographic and political borders to commemorate women such as Helen Gwynne-Vaughan, Frieda Belinfante, and Anne Frank, and all those unsung heroines of the many conflicts in history – Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Sudan.

Changing gear, Revel 8 breaks all barriers with its heady mix of break-dancing and street jive. An Eastern Cape group, the Bionic Breakers won national acclaim in 2006, and this year sees this group of boogying boys make their formal Festival debut (Festinos may remember them from Sundowner concerts in the past). Watch out for some amazing contortionism, high energy dancing and fantastically fast foot movements!

Afrika Ablaze and director / choreographer, Glenda Jones question what happens when children grow up in a Godless world in Angel. Using inspirations from their own lives, this stirring and emotional piece, will leave a lasting impression on audiences. David Yatur (Cape Argus) said of the company, “Afrika Ablaze is a living example of the power and therapy of dance. Who needs formal training with such an overflow of raw energy and explosive exuberance? "

The Tap Talk Rhythm Company (TapAttack), Moses Molelekwa Arts Foundation (Dance to the Rain Queen), and Mhayise Productions (Isililo Sikanandi) are back to wow audiences yet again, and the Gauteng Department of Arts & Culture brings a showcase of the best dance work in the Province in Gauteng Motjeka Dance.

Don’t miss the exhilarating dance programme on the 2008 Fringe Festival – pick up a booking kit from Computicket or selected Standard Bank branches and come on down to Grahamstown for a fun-filled Festival experience. Visit www.nationalartsfestival.co.za or call 046 603 1103 for more info.

The National Arts Festival is proudly supported by The Eastern Cape Government, Standard Bank, The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, SABC and The National Arts Council.




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