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AARDKLOP 2004 (article first published : 2004-07-30)

Aardklop Arts Festival is seven years old and is bound to burst its seams this year, if the exponential growth of attendance over the last couple of years is any indication to go by.

This year, Aardklop will present about 85 productions as opposed to 90 last year. A couple of sponsors on the central festival arena wil also present entertainment on their stages, ie Beeld, Huisgenoot, the ATKV and Klipdrift’s Klip-innie-Bos. Close to 400 shows and more than 450 artists will have Potchefstroom abuzz for five days, from September 28 until October 2. All the action does not stop on the Saturday, though. Two special productions have been organised for October 3: Haydn’s popular Creation as well as a Jazz Crawl in Ikageng. Most of the visual arts displays will also be open on Sunday.

A third of the productions at this year’s festival are brand new, amongst others the work of two of the finalists in last year’s Aardklop-SABC2 text development initiative: Gogo’s Groove, a cabaret in Tswana and Xhosa by the exciting newcomer Josias Moleele; and Henriëtta Gryffenberg’s Swartskaap.

Various international productions will be seen at Aardklop this year, most notably the Belgian troupe De Nieuwe Snaar, whose music, dramatics and humour (something between the Blue Men Group and Cirque d’ Soleil) will send audiences home in a daze. Other guests from that region include Trio Bamberg, one of Europe’s best and most loved chamber music ensembles, as well as a street theatre group from Antwerp, Corpus Acrobaticus, whose dance, drama and circus acrobatics deliver an awe inspiring stage performance.

World music lovers should not miss The World in Rhythm, a follow-up to last year’s hit production World in a Guitar, with some of the country’s best percussionists, bass guitar players and other instrumentalists.

The works of Argentinean tango composer, Astor Piazzolla, will receive special attention at this year’s festival. Aside from his exciting, thought provoking operita Maria de Buenos Aires, an Aardklop initiative that has wowed audiences earlier this year at Grahamstown and the KKNK, the young 14-year old sensation Yasheen Modi will touch and surprise audiences with his intuitive interpretation of Piazzolla and others on piano. The stylish yet eclectic Sontonga Quartet from Cape Town investigate a wide variety of music, from Beethoven to Jimi Hendrix, while soprano Hanli Stapela returns after six years in the USA to exhibit her repertoire – from gypsy lieder to chanson.

This year’s big rock event, OppiAarde, an Aardklop-Oppikoppi co-production, will be staged on the festival’s climax day, Saturday, and will showcase evergreens such as the Springbok Nude Girls, Koos Kombuis, kwaai rock chick Karen Zoid, the Dutch rockers Stuurbaard Bakkebaard and favourites such as Tidal Waves, Prime Circle, Valiant Swart and the Kwaito star and Sama winner, MXO, on his first visit to Aardklop.

The local communities of Ikageng and Promosa also have a full programme with productions that will showcase the best of local talent throughout the week. This year festival attendees can also visit some of the most atmospheric shebeens and jazz venues in Ikageng and see some of the country’s best jazz musicians on a Jazz Crawl.

One of Aardklop and Transnet’s new projects, a street theatre troupe consisting of local artists under the tutelage of ‘le diablotin’ John Jacobs, will have a daily mime performance on the central festival arena.

Main festival artist and world-renowned video artist Berni Searle will showcase her latest work entitled Vapour together with eleven other visual art exhibitions on the main university campus.

The Boeke-oase (‘book oasis’), introduced last year, continues this year with theatre discussions, book launches, readings by writers and poets, book breakfasts and a special focus on children’s literature. Festival-goers will be able to visit the Boeke-oase for some quiet and something to eat and drink – as well as a little bit of soul food.

Aardklop has proved itself as an organisation that encourages contentious dialogue. This year’s Sol Plaatje Discourse Series – with among others the new Minister of Arts and Culture, Dr Pallo Jordan – tackles contentious issues such as the future of the arts in South Africa; women in politics; the future of water and a world in conflict – topical in the light of the events of 9/11, the war in Iraq and the new ‘Berlin Wall’ in Israel’s Gaza strip.

Visit the festival’s bilingual website www.aardklop.co.za and stand a chance to win some tickets.




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