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Owning the Grahamstown Arts Festival stage
Community Coordinator
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On July 11th, Standard Bank Young Artist for Dance 2012 Bailey Snyman and Standard Bank Ovation Award 2011 winner Nicola Haskins present: If These Bodies Could Speak - a multi award winning matchbox dance theatre piece. Exploring the struggles of a relationship through instinctual elements, If These Bodies Could Speak is an elegantly and emotionally choreographed piece about a couple, any couple, who argue, fight, lose themselves and each other but eventually, regain the love they once had for each other.


Bailey Snyman's dance solo speaks volumes as we engage with what overcoming darkness within a relationship is all about. This was perfectly demonstrated by Synman's tightly controlled but distorted movements on finding the light within yourself, and your own physiology. Nicola Haskins comes in with her own solo, a twirl of her body - a metaphor for the anguish that is within her body, an anguish that resonates in her relationship. Bailey and Haskins, accompanied by strong musical vocals, own the stage as they move as one, truly making magic on stage.


Later, multi-award winning South African vocalist, Lira took to stage in what was easily one of the best performances of the National Arts Festival. Returning to South Africa after her USA tour - just three days before she took to stage, Lira explains that she hadn't performed in Grahamstown in 7 years. That 7 years of waiting for her South African audiences was well worth the wait as Lira electrified the stage singing classics from her 2009 album, Soul In Mind.


Lira, who has come a long way as female vocalist in South African music trio Triple 9, really connected with the audience explaining for the first time what inspired songs Hamba and Believer. Lira, who says she has watched and learnt from the mistakes of those around says Hamba is about getting rid of the darkness we accumulate in our relationships, friendships and lives in general. Hamba was inspired by watching her two close friends stay in relationships that no longer served them. What came out of that, is one of the most moving songs.


One of the highlights of the night is when Lira describes growing up in an apartheid past - a past where music was the only escape for those who lived through those senseless times. This is when Lira's love for music was fostered. She learnt that music could be freeing, and now that she is free, from the chains of an apartheid past, she uses music to bring endless endless joy.


After an hour long set, Lira bowed to a full house on its feet. But, after one audience cried "Encore!", Lira came back to stage - performing classic tributes to the late Miriam Makeba and her own feel good songs for 45 minutes! This, despite her having a consecutive performance just 2 hours later. It's safe to say, Lira continues to rise again, as one of our best vocalists!


Written by Thembelihle Ngcai

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