While the whirlwind event of the National Arts Festival may have come and gone, the memorable and entertaining performances are still the talk of Grahamstown.
The 11 day arts fest, was indeed a top class show of dance, theatre, comedy, film, opera and of course jazz. Here’s a quick round-up of the main attractions of this year’s National Arts Festival.
Local and international jazz acts set the stage on fire in Grahamstown this year. Benin guitarist Lionel Loueke got crowds to their feet and calls for an encore. While local talents Nduduzo Makhathini, Bokani Dyer, Kesivan Naidoo, Concorde Nkabinde, Benjamin Jephta, Thandi Ntuli, Carlo Bombelli and the Storytellers, Ray Phiri, The Kyle Shepard Trio, Auriol Hays and Lindiwe Maxolo also wowed and delighted the jazz-loving crowds.
Let’s not forget pop band Beatenberg and house trio Micasa.
The Standard Bank Youth Jazz Festival was a abuzz with talented young musicians. The talent of hopefuls were amazing to watch as they competed for a spot in the Standard Bank Youth Jazz Band. Eventually only eight youngsters were selected. The judges had to choose from a pool of eager and serious youngsters and it made it really hard to decide who would make the cut.
The Standard Bank Rhythm Booth was yet another hit with music lovers featuring impromptu performances by local artists. Music lovers also experienced the Oculus Rift - a device that uses digital technology to provide an enhanced experience of the musical performances. User’s had their heart rate measured to test their body’s reaction to the music. It was proven beyond a doubt that the closer you are the music the more you feel.
A Portrait of Myself as My Father, choreographed by Zimbabwean-born New Yorker, Nora Chipaumire delivered a fresh and energetic dance narrative about African masculinity. It looked at the African man as defined and impacted by cultural traditions, colonialism, religion and liberation struggles.
History Will Break your HeartExhibit by reigning Standard Bank Young Artist of TheYear forVisual Art, Kemang Wa Lehulere was themed on the life stories of two inspiring and historic South African artists. The one is Ernest Mancoba who died in Paris having had an immensely successful career as an artist. He was a co-architect of the avant-garde art movement in France and a visionary abstract painter. The other is Gladys Mgundlandlu who was one of the first black female painters to ever be exhibited in South Africa. They both seem to have been forgotten by the local art public since passing on.
The Elder of Azanialeft audiences mystified and captivated all at once. It was presented by Athi-Patra Ruga, the winner of the 2015 Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year for Performance Art. The unworldly spectacle of colour is meant to disrupt and bring attention to issues of racism, gender and sexual identity.
Siva (Seven),the dance piece by thereigning Standard Bank Young Artist for Dance,Luyanda Sidiya explored the notion of going home to revisit and define one’s spirituality. The dance was based on ritual themed movements while the costumes depicted the elements of fire, water, earth and wind.
The National Arts Festival 2015 concluded with the announcement of the Standard Bank Fringe Ovation Award winners - a celebration and recognition of the best productions to feature on the festival’s Fringe programme. TheStandard Bank Fringe Ovation Awardsis regarded as a credible reward for productions that raise the bar on excellence. There was certainly a high standard of creative quality on the Fringe. Gold Ovation Awards went to jazz vocalist, Asanda Mqiki and theatre productions –El Blanco: Tales of the Mariachi and Jonny Boskak is Feeling Funny for their creative, experimental and innovation work.Silver Ovation Awards went to the following theatre productions: A Man and a Dog, We Didn’t Come to Hell for Croissants, Morwa the Rising Sun, Kafke’s Ape and Father, Father, Father. Dance and music acts, Barbed Wire Wallpaper and Hatchetman also won Silver.