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CERVANTINO FESTIVAL (article first published : 2004-10-7)

More than 120 South African musicians and dancers are set to enthral audiences at Mexico's annual Cervantino Festival from October 6 to 24, undoubtedly the most significant artistic and cultural event in Latin America.

For such a high-profile event, the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) undertook a process to ensure that as many dance and music groups as possible had a chance at attending the festival. Working with two representatives from the Festival International Committee (FIC, the organising body of the Cervantino Festival), the DAC held auditions in six provinces in March this year - Kwa-Zulu Natal, Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape and Western Cape.

In the end, groups from four provinces were selected to participate, covering a wide range of dance and musical styles: from gumboot dancing and modern dance to Mapantsula Jive, Afro Jazz, Marimba, Maskandi, and Isicathamiya.

Taking part from KZN are the Isicathamiya group Mpumalanga White Birds, the maskandi group Vumile Nojiketele and the indlamu act Isigqi Sembokodo. Also appearing will be one of KZNs most high profile and internationally acclaimed group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

The presence of the large number of South African cultural artists at this premier festival comes under the auspices of DAC, following the Mexican government's invitation to South Africa to attend the 2004 Cervantino Festival as a guest country. It also offers the South African government the opportunity to celebrate the country's decade of democracy on the Latin American continent, with 14 groups covering a wide range of artistic genres, and featuring both new, established and globally recognised talent.

"This is an historic step in our arts and culture communities, says the Deputy Director General of Cultural Development and International Relations, Mr Victor Julius. The Cervantino Festival is the most prestigious and widely attended multi-cultural event in the whole of Latin America and offers a great platform for musicians and dancers to showcase their uniqueness and, hopefully, earn enough exposure amongst those gathered at the event, to broaden their international performing careers on an individual basis once the festival ends."

The Cervantino Festival has been staged since 1972, in honour of the illustrious Mexican author Miguel de Cervantes. It is held in the city of Guanajuato - the capital of the state of the same name, and the birthplace of Mexico's independence (providing an immediate link with the celebration of 10 years of democracy by South African representatives at the festival). With its wide spread of national and international cultural and artistic events, ranging from exhibitions, to plays, concerts, cinema, dance and, of course, music, the Cervantino Festival is regarded as the most important cultural event in Latin America.

Further details from Vanessa Perumal on 011 787 7459or 083 268 1446/ email vanessa@jtcomms.co.za




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