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Main attractions at the National Arts Festival
Community Coordinator
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Come the National Arts Festival and the small city of Grahamstown just about doubles in population, with people coming from near and afar to see for themselves what all the hype surrounding this magnificent event is.

One of the central attractions during the National Arts Festival is the Village Green, a market-like setup where consumables of various kinds are on offer, and where all ages will have something to be excited about. There are stalls selling all kinds of goods, from homemade clothing to cheese to CDs.

The food section of the Village Green is something to behold as well. All tastes and flavours are presented, including a vegan pastry stall, a freshly squeezed orange juice hut, a kudu meat stall, and a Chinese food stall. When walking around becomes too tiresome for some, festival goers can enjoy relaxing at the beer tent, and children can be entertained at the children’s theatre tent. For those who enjoy live music, a stage has been erected especially for the Festival, where several music acts perform each day. One of the more notable bands who have performed thus far at the Village Green were the touring band from Cape Town called The Nomadic Orchestra, whose style is a unique blend of Balkan and jazz.

While the Village Green stays abuzz throughout the day, art continues to flow around the rest of the city. I had the opportunity to see the magnificent dance production called Cargo: Precious, which was an imagined account of Saartjie Baartman’s first time at sea. Using large white sheets to create the movement of sea waters, atmospheric music and sound effects, and choreography of a haunting nature, Cargo: Precious inspired a standing ovation from its audience.


This year’s Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz, Kyle Shepherd, performed his second of two shows on Tuesday night. The Kyle Shepherd Trio including Shane Cooper (bass) and Jonno Sweetman (drums) showcased music from Shepherd’s latest CD called Dream State. Shepherd uses sounds rooted in his Cape Town upbringing fused with complex rhythms and harmonies to create an atmosphere that is indeed dreamy.

It was then my turn to view what was a spectacle. The Guy Butler Theatre filled to its capacity to welcome three South African divas of our time, namely Gloria Bosman, Melanie Scholtz and Zanne Stapelberg. Performing alongside the Mzansi Youth Choir and musicians like Bokani Dyer, Concorde Nkabinde and Shannon Mowday, the trio dazzled the audience with numbers like My African Dream by Vicky Sampson, I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables and Dance Sum More by Mango Groove.

With the National Arts Festival in its completion, there were no signs of it petering out. On the contrary, the closing days were promising to be the most exciting of them all. It is therefore my advice to all, to stay until the very last second.

Written by Denzil de Klerk

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