All set for festival showcase

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The Eastern Cape Showcase at next month’s National Arts Festival (NAF) will explore the fusion of AbaThembu and AmaMpondo dances while telling the story of Oliver Tambo.

LIVE ACT: Tsebeyi traditional group from Mount Frere perform at a previous National Arts Festival Picture: SINO MAJANGAZA

The festival, which takes place from June 29 to July 9 in Grahamstown, is one of the biggest events on the city’s calendar and draws thousands of people. It is the second largest arts festival in the world.

Last year and in 2015, the Eastern Cape Indigenous Music and Dance Ensemble presented We Salute Madiba in honour of Nelson Mandela. This year’s production will see the dynamic ensemble celebrating and honouring the OR Tambo centenary.

With a spot in the main programme, the ensemble will explore the fusion of AbaThembu and AmaMpondo dances.

Presented by the department of sport, recreation, arts and culture, the production tells the story of the life of Tambo, who was from the AmaMpondo nation, and focuses on his meeting with Nelson Mandela, who was from the AbaThembu nation.

Arts lovers have been told to “expect the unexpected”.

From brand new works by well-known choreographers and dancers to reinterpretations of classic works, the programme represents a curious, furious and poetic game of different aesthetics, contexts and languages, oscillating between perception and attribution, between history and that which is current and urgent,” said the convener of the dance subcommittee, Gregory Maqoma.

The core programme has been collaboratively produced by NAF executive producer Ashraf Johaardien and the 20-member artistic committee. Maqoma, dance lecturer Lliane Loots and arts writer Tracey Saunders serve on the dance subcommittee, which falls under the festival’s artistic committee.

Other dance productions to look forward to include the powerful collaboration created through a residency at Dance Space in Johannesburg between Unmute dance company (Cape Town) and Tumbuka dance company (Harare), which have united to present Breaking Borders.

Moved by the incidence of xenophobia in South Africa, the artists’ intentions are to help break the borders between their countries by connecting and looking to the future. The work starts with the question: “Who am I as an African person?”

In the dance productions, Standard Bank Young Artist Thandazile Radebe leads the way with Sabela, a contemporary African dance piece, while Vincent Mantsoe’s new solo work KonKoriti references an ancient song about pride, arrogance, physical power and selfishness. Former Standard Bank young artist award-winner Dada Masilo will present her feminist revision of the classical ballet Giselle, with music especially written by composer Phillip Miller.

This year’s featured artist is composer, musician and cultural activist Neo Muyanga, who will premiere solid(t)ary, a piece composed specifically for the festival.

Programmes for the festival are available online and at various Standard Bank branches across the province and at Exclusive Books in Walmer Park, Port Elizabeth.

Pre-bookings for all shows can be done via the website at www.nationalartsfestival.co.za — poliswap@dispatch.co.za

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