Standard Bank Young Artist Winners Nduduzo Makhathini and Luyanda Sidiya wow at the National Arts Festival
While Joburg-based jazz pianist Ndudzo Makhathini paid tribute to his musical heroes, dancer, choreographer and Vaal Triangle native Luyanda Sidiya explored the concept of going home at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.
The 2015 Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz Nduduzo Makhathini’s second and final show at the Standard Bank Jazz Festival made a case for jazz as more than musical entertainment. Song, as it is understood in the star pianist’s home language, isiZulu is called ngoma, the same word that is used to refer to healers: aboNgoma.
Makhathini who sat at the piano to lead his six-piece band, dedicated his night of glory to his musical heroes. The first is Bheki Mseleku, the late composer and pianist from whom Makhathini drew constant inspiration. The other is MacCoy Tyner, the African-Pianist and composer who formed part of John Coltrane’s classic quartet. The two jazz elders made a name for themselves by exploring spirituality through their musical practices.
This quality was evident in the hall as the band’s chemistry lifted audiences in a shared communion of music. Drummer Kesivan Naidoo dealt gems with every crashing cymbal and cracking snare. The musical empathy he shared with Makhathini came to life in a call and response game played with a rare dexterity that sent trumpeter, Sakhile Simani into such ecstasy that he needed a bit of jolting from an amused Mark Fransman on tenor. The repertoire comprised a collection of tunes from three of Makhathini’s albums, Mother Tongue and Sketches of Tomorrow, with the lion’s share of the selection coming from Listening to the Ground.
The spiritual theme continued on the dance stage with Siva (Seven), the dance piece by the reigning Standard Bank Young Artist for Dance,Luyanda Sidiya. The dance’s narrative explores the idea of “a home” as a site of spiritual sustenance. The choreography is meant in part to implore audiences to think of notions of going home or returning home from any kind of wilderness – real and imagined – as a metaphor for returning to the source of life, or return to the divine god.
In his artistic statement, he points out that “as human beings tangled in our own disorder, disruption, and disassociation, we constantly yearn for that which guides us to completeness, to oneness. We are in a constant search for within ourselves, in others, and all around us, for connectedness and place.” To illustrate this existential search, Sidiya’s choreography employs music, ritual themed movement and monologues derived from scripture. The set, along with the costumes designed by Veronica Shem, drew on the four of elements, fire, water, earth and wind to code ideas of life at its most basic manifestation.
Follow @StandardBankArt on Twitter for the latest #NAF2015 highlights. The National Arts Festival runs from the 2 to 12 July 2015