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Adding meaning to my life … washing dishes

In my 50th year, a year of great abundance (I celebrated my birthday with my beloved and dear friends in Istanbul, I was given a wetsuit and I started doing yoga regularly, to mention just a few highlights), the best thing that has happened to me is a morning shift once a week at a local school, making porridge and washing dishes.

Sounds a bit mad doesn’t it? But it is true … mostly … except when I am actually in the water in that wetsuit.

I help make porridge (fortified pap) and wash dishes at a Breakfast Club that feeds 450 children every morning before school. Most of the children come from disadvantaged homes, the vast majority have nothing to eat before they leave their homes in far-flung places to start journeys to school of 1-2 hours. In fact, a significant number of them do not even have anything to drink before they are squashed into buses and informal taxis, often with strangers.

On a recent morning one of the volunteers saw 12 children get out of an ordinary sized car, the three smallest climbing out of the boot.

It is impossible to imagine the stress of these journeys. Terrifying also to think of the pressure these children feel to be cheerful and switch their brains on when they get to the school, where they are lucky to have a place, which suggests there is some hope they will escape the poverty trap.

Two fantastic women, Aletta and Patsy, have made it their mission to make sure these children get a bowl of porridge, a cup of water and a piece of fruit before they go to the classroom.

So this is where I find myself once a week in the cool and misty morning, washing dishes, surrounded by hope.

Someone in my partner’s office heard she was volunteering at this Breakfast Club and donated 44 hand-knitted teddy bears to the Grade Rs. She (Lindsey)  is member of a knitting group, a kindly, charitable version of a “stitch-and-bitch”, where a bunch of ladies get together for tea, possibly gossip, probably wine, and knitting. Many children in need, from burn victims at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital to our own little honey-bunnies at Breakfast Club, have their own unique little teddy bear from these lovely ladies.

Sometimes it is is easy to forget, but just look around … we are always surrounded by love and there are so many ways to help others.

Desperately seeking Wonderbags

The porridge is cold by the time the children eat it. Although I have never heard any complaints I know warmth would really supercharge the experience. So we are looking for 14 Wonderbags so that it is not ice cold when it is served.

The Wonderbag is a wondrous thing, an insulated bag into which one puts pots of food (cooked or cooking) to keep in the heat. It really can extend the cooking process long after you have stopped applying heat; we should all use them in our energy-poor world.

Rice and porridge are both perfect candidates. Add required amount of rice or porridge and water, bring to boil, transfer closed pot to Wonderbag and walk away. It will cook perfectly, no chance of it catching/burning and will stay hot for hours. A Wonderbag costs less than R300.

I am guessing there are many Wonderbags lying around the homes of suburbanites who seldom use them. If you have one to donate please mail capocassidy@gmail.com to arrange delivery/collection. If you would like to buy one for the cause please do. It will be much appreciated and will go to a fantastic cause.

BACK STORY

Aletta Ashmore, who worked as a remedial teacher at the school, and Patsy Bagraim, a Shine volunteer there, set up a pilot scheme to feed 75 Grade 1’s. The club today feeds a healthy E’pap, milk and fruit breakfast to over 400 Grade R – Grade 7 children each school morning.

These two wonder-women pay costs themselves where they can’t raise funds, as well as providing much of the labour. They get a little help from volunteers and locals to whom they pay a stipend. They are helped along by the kindness of family members, friends and a few strangers.

They get very little help from the authorities, national or local. In a maddening irony the school does not qualify for funding because it is located in a prosperous neighbourhood, even though 80% of the children are brought in from surrounding areas, most of them far away and very poor.

They know from having surveyed the children that 34.7% of them get up before 5am, another 52.4% rise between 5 and 6am. More than half the children spend the next hour to hour and a half commuting to school. Almost a quarter of them do not have anything to drink before leaving home, 14.1% do not eat before leaving home with another 45.2% saying they sometimes get something to eat before leaving home (in other words nearly 60% of the children are not sure of getting something to eat before they leave home for a trip of more than an hour before they start school). What sort if chance do they have of kicking into learning mode at 8am?

Support from businesses has also made all the difference. Addis supplied plates and serving bowls; Faircape donates ALL the milk (reason to support them!); Specsavers in Canal Walk tested all the volunteers’ eyes for free and covered the cost of lenses for those who needed glasses.

Make a donation or lend a hand …

More info https://goodstart.org.za/the-breakfast-club/

Food and wine that (almost) tops the art

Makes me weak at the knees … From the moment I arrive at this sensational destination in this gorgeous city – from the haunting opera music piped into the stairwell between the parking garage and the museum, to the food and wine artistically paired and passionately served on the top floorWe were already totally and madly in love with the Zeitz Mocaa Museum. The relationship got off to great start: It is about us http://calloffthesearch.com/africa/zeitz-mocaa-us/.

Layers and layers of pleasure, in every colour and shape, have been added week by week as we have popped in often, for a minute or so much more. Sometimes we linger and go on a journey from room to room; other times we pop in and head somewhere in particular for a quick fix.

When it comes to quick fixes, William Kentridge’s multi-panel digital video More Sweetly, Play The Dance is the hit of hits. It will bring me back as long as it is here (the plaque says it is on loan from the artist and the Goodman Gallery). Like a hit of something forbidden, the thrill of watching this particular tragi-comedy of pure South African-ness thrills almost as soon as it is delivered: half pleasure, half pain; half pride, half shame.

The beauty of a membership, we thought, was being able to pop in at will, jumping queues and avoiding the entry fee. We think we own the place.

That was even before they started wining and dining us …

We were alerted to the wine pairing in the café at the top of the gallery by a little, almost matter of fact mention in the members’ newsletter. An amazing deal, R250 for a three-course meal, each course paired with a glass of wine. All of this in that delicious space with its glorious geodesic windows that protrude from the building in a visual representation of the former grain silos full-to-busting with grain.

They could have served us scrambled eggs and a glass of port … Instead they served us three delicious courses paired with superb wines that made us wonder if Kentridge himself had been involved.

It is, in fact, head chef Christopher Law who is to be congratulated for the creations that come from his kitchen.

It was a procession of delicious, interesting flavours and textures, some that delighted and popped, others tickling and teasing. I am not going to lie, there was some stroking too. So many knockout combinations of food and wine.

Consider this extravaganza of a starter: scorched seabass, truffle crumbles, lemon-infused crème fraiche, pickled ginger puree, beetroot and baby leaves. And so it continued, a delicious journey through flavours and sensations. I have to be honest, though, the extra special ingredient on the day was our server, Richard.

This charming and knowledgeable waiter-cum-wine sommelier added a very particular layer of magic. He understands the wine and the food, the combination of the two especially. He served it all with such skill and more than a side order of passion.

He must have seen us coming because he was very quick to recommend a glass of bubbly, the Lourensford https://lourensford.co.za/  MCC, before we start the pairing.

If there wasn’t a ban on using the word champagne to describe SA bubbly, Richard said, would call this this Cap Classique the champagne of champagnes. Not a word of a lie there. There is a lot of promise on the nose with strong aromas of cake crust, hints of marzipan even. Then the finest of bubbles and the freshest of finishes.

It was a perfect start. We were both glad there was no food with the bubbly since it would have just been too distracting. Total focus required!

Then it was time for that starter. A variety of little bites of delicate flavours and textures seemed to play together in a miniature symphony that was over too quickly.

The Lourensford chardonnay impressed the two of us, who normally avoid it even if it lacks the acidity of the others that sometimes stings and irritates. What surprised about the Lourensford was the absence of the perfumey, oily, woody chardonnay flavours that usually drive us away. Funny how you can like a thing for what it lacks. In this case, it felt a little like taking a dip in the Atlantic on Camps Bay and discovering that the sea is not as cold as you thought.

No one was more surprised than me when the delicious main course played second fiddle to the vino, the Shiraz Mourvèdre Viognier 2015, even though the sous vide sirloin with caramelised pear croquettes (a revelation), the sweetest red pepper puree and the finest of green beans was a total knockout.

Loud applause for both food and wine, but the standing ovation went to Richard, who did a little dance as he unpacked and described our seduction by this Rhone-style blend. First, he said, you get a little spice on the nose … then a cherry smell passes by …

He does a little dance as he describes it: “First you feel your shiraz. Then there is a little tussle as Mourvèdre tries to get in on the action and finally, the viognier steps forwards and says, Calm down I am here too!”

That surely must be the climax, I thought, but then the dessert, aah the dessert: strawberry and cream vanilla cake, wild strawberry moose, honey and vanilla parfait, black basil crumbs and strawberry compote.

This spread of delicious sweetness was balanced by a glass of sauvignon blanc.

Asked about his favourite wines, Richard said: “If you have five children you, can’t favour one, not even the baby.”

The wine pairing lunches are served in the café on Level 6 of Zeitz Mocaa only until the end of April. A different menu is served every day.

Fabulous fabulous leads and a whole lot more

Review: West Side Story, Fugard Theatre production at Artscape opera house

Run extended until April 22

In this mad and fast-moving world appetites change constantly, attention spans narrow and it is easy to dismiss things as old or tired. That said, this fabulous pairing of a sensational Maria and a reliable and gorgeous Tony in a grand-scale production of West Side Story is anything but.

Lynelle Kenned as Maria is out of this world. Hers is an absolutely sensational voice that seems to soar ever higher and higher. Even when the whole cast of 40 is singing their hearts out her crystal clear soprano is unmistakable. US-born actor Kevin Hack as Tony, in a role he has performed almost 400 times, provides a powerful balance to her brilliance.

These two alone make the trip to Artscape worth it and you might even get tickets now that the run has been extended to April 22. But don’t muck about: it must end then.

This production of the classic inspired by Romeo and Juliet and set in New York in the Fifties, by Eric Abraham and the Fugard Theatre, blew us away in the winter of 2015.  It is back at Artscape for one final season in South Africa “due to overwhelming demand”. Well, that is what they say (and judging by the full house and standing ovation they might just be telling the truth).

The story is so well-known and borders on the cheesy but an unforgettable score that marries stirring music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim (“Something’s Coming”, “Maria”, “I Feel Pretty”, “Tonight”, to name a few ) blows any cynicism away.

High octone dance-fighting scenes between two warring street gangs, the Jets and the Sharks, add a helping of excitement and brash big bang thrill.

Go on, take your kids, take your Mum and Dad, take the bridge club or your drinking buddies. There really is something for everyone in this very impressive production with a few absolutely standout performances.

Other principal cast members reprising their roles are Bianca Le Grange as Anita; Stephen Jubber as Riff; Sven-Eric Müller as Diesel; Craig Urbani as Shrank; and Richard Lothian as Officer Krupke. Daniel Richards re-joins the cast as Bernardo and James Borthwick plays Doc.

Matthew Wild is director, Charl-Johan Lingenfelder is musical director and conductor, and Louisa Talbot is the choreographer, with Grant van Ster as resident choreographer.

Last time it was the set that stole my heart …

(full review from August 2015 available here)

I managed to secure some of the last seats at the Artscape Opera House for West Side Story. The balcony was all that was left. I was only a little disappointed, knowing that a seat upstairs gives such a great view of the group pieces, in this case two gangs of hot young dancers play-fighting with choreography by Louisa Talbot under the direction of Matthew Wild. What’s not to like?

Being a little way back also helps me not fall in love with one performer and follow them around the stage to the detriment of the others, in this case, so many others in a large and talented cast of 40.

Blah-di-blah … A fragile balance is upset … Cue hatred and violence … breathtaking, high tempo dance scenes. Blah blah blah (as I said, full review from August 2015 available here)

Seamless mood changes are achieved by deft set changes between cavernous, clunky, concrete landscapes and intimate love scenes on a balcony or in the sewing factory where Maria works.

About my special little stage crush for the night, I will admit to being a bit mechanical here. Lead contenders had to be Maria (Lynelle Kenned), so sweet and winsome until she opened her mouth and filled the auditorium with soaring vocals, and the sexy Anita (Bianca le Grange), who is Bernardo’s girlfriend.

Le Grange, a South African sweetheart of an order I have heard compared with the way America adored Natalie Wood, who played Maria in the original film version of West Side Story, is one of those performers who doesn’t need a spotlight, her performance is already illuminated by her own fiery red circle of hotness.

But this time the crush award went to … [add drumroll here please] … the stage itself: the mechanics of a three-story set being moved seamlessly on and off stage; the lighting – sometimes knock-out sparkly, other times delightfully subtle; the stage that seemed to go on forever. (I really did lean over the balcony to check if they had fitted in more than a few rows of seats downstairs).

The grocery store we’ve all been waiting for

I am just back from my first visit to Nude Foods, the grocery store we have all been waiting for! I do mean all of us. Cape Town’s new plastic-free grocer is heaven for hipsters, for sure, with its hemp seeds, healthy hair products and earth-friendly body and home products, and a veritable lezzer nirvana with all those non-GMO pulses and legumes and natural fibre face clothes.

But even if you are a totally unreformed meat-eating, booze-guzzling, SUV-driving capitalist you will probably like the raw understated style of the green-green grocer with its exposed brickwork and sexy container-ing of extra virgin olive oil, balsamic and friends.

Plus there are many other little tricks and treats such as  an all-natural stain remover stick that removes even that environmentally friendly extra virgin olive oil should it be splashed on your favourite blouse, I am reliably informed.

The target-obsessed, outcomes-focused busy bees will love the convenience of it all.

Just a few minutes away from worshipping at the altar of your own busy-busy-busy-ness and you will have achieved low cost, high impact efficiency (and probably a few super cool selfies) as you filled your hessian sack with delicious and affordable wholefoods. That’s a nice little update for LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram … that should get you some Likes!

After being offered a glass straw at the Alexander Bar last week I was delighted to see bamboo straws at Nude.

The glass straw is a nice idea and a very luxurious experience, but somehow it doesn’t feel realistic to hope that it will take off on a meaningful scale, kinda like washing your hair in Evian (Kim Bassinger and I really tried to make that take off but it just didn’t catch on).

Plastic straws seem to be widely hated at the moment; they are the gateway drug du jour and I am happy to have turned my back on them forever.

Seriously, whether you are a hipster or a total hick you will love Nude Foods at 5 Constitution Street, East City Precinct, Cape Town.

It is unforgivable not to even attempt to do your bit. See you in the water queues…  

PS I was happy to see that there is one kind of plastic that is welcome here and that they are using Yoco. I do love a little disruption!

Yoco, poster child of SA as global fintech hub

Am I beautiful? Oh yes I am!

 

 

What a treat to see Zanele Muholi profiled in the Weekend FT.  It brought to mind my first encounter with the riveting work of this activist-photographer …

GRAHAMSTOWN, July 8 2016: In this challenging two-part exhibition at the Standard Bank Gallery as part of the annual National Arts Festival, photographer and activist Zanele Muholi provokes and pleases as she explores different ways of asking the question, Am I beautiful?

The first part, Somnyama Ngonyama (an isiZulu phrase which translates to Hail, the dark lioness), is a collection of self-portraits taken as Muholi travelled the world. They shout defiantly, “I am me!” And even, “I am beautiful aren’t I!”

The exaggerated blackness of her skin in the pictures brings ideas about race and the politics of pigment to the fore, creating a whole subset of questions for the viewer.

Muholi writes: “The black face and its details become the focal point, forcing the viewer to question their desire to gaze at images of my black figure. By exaggerating the darkness of my skin tone, I’m reclaiming my blackness, which I feel is continuously performed by the privileged other.”

Invite to the opening of Muholi’s show at Stevenson Gallery, Woodstock, August 2017

The photographs of Muholi dressed up as different personas are taken in such glittering cities as Paris, New York and London and reference black and white portraiture and fashion photography. What’s not to love, you might ask.

The second part of the exhibition, 12 portraits of queer beauty queens, men and women – taken in South African townships, villages and cities – seem to ask, “Please look at me … Ummm … Do you think I am beautiful?”

These are 12 different kinds of beautiful, all of them tapping into a gorgeousness that transcends the environment, an ill-fitting swimsuit, a few extra kilos, a scarred leg. They are all out and proud, beautiful in a most vulnerable way.

Curated by Lerato Bereng, this exhibition shows a broad spectrum of the arc of beauty.

*The 12 photographs are part of the body of work for which Muholi is best known, her life-long project of documenting members of the black LGBTQIA community of South Africa. Brave Beauties catalogues hate crimes against the LGBTIQIA community and seeks to raise awareness about corrective rape and other violent crimes against the community.

 

Same-same; so different …

Through a series of photographs and short essays Alexia Beckerling takes the reader on a private, magical soul-searching journey to wholeness…

A goddess in a headdress

Very familiar and completely vreemd

How I wished I didn’t have to read the surtitles in Moedertaal. Whenever I listened to the Afrikaans words spoken by Sandra Prinsloo I understood snatches of a beautiful, lyrical Afrikaans that cannot be translated. When I heard the Afrikaans and saw the translations in English I wanted to shout out: “That is not what she said; it is definitely not what he meant!”

That’s right, I said ‘he’. Hard as it was for me to believe, a man wrote this poignant and intimate story told in a very powerfully feminine voice by Prinsloo, that grande dame of South African theatre. Familiar and vreemd indeed.

Written and directed by Nico Scheepers, Moedertaal is the third instalment in Sandra Prinsloo’s trifecta of one-woman plays that began so beautifully with Die Naaimasjien. Scheepers, who also composed the music, has been described as “one of the most exciting young theatre-makers in this country”. He and Prinsloo make a formidable pair.

Evocative, compelling narrative (even in the translated surtitles … although less so) grabs us from the beginning. ‘Almost-poetry’ that brings to mind and body the feeling of bare, dusty feet as we explore with Nellie her dead uncle’s farm. (The family has moved here after he put a gun into his mouth and pulled the trigger in a tragically familiar narrative.)

We feel the air thick with sticky, plummy smells and a sweet conspiratorial bond as she helps her dad make moonshine from the maroela fruit.

We feel the fire on our skin and our hearts break as the orchard burns down one night. Later, our hearts repaired a little, we are overcome by awkwardness when Nellie meets her life’s love as a teenager.

Their story is three-quarters familiar, populated and coloured in by many versions and vignettes of our white South African stereotypes. The rest of it we watch from a distance, sometimes amused, often horrified. This quarter is the deeply personal, unique happiness and pain that can never be shared, the private journey between two people in love, touched occasionally by a third: a parent, another lover or, most importantly, a child.

As in life, even as each of them is uniquely quirky, there is a certain familiarity to all the misfits, the loners, the nut-jobs … in Afrikaans and in English. We think we know them and fear what they might want from us, so we back off and thank the heavens we didn’t end up like that … although we can remember more than a few moments when things looked to be heading that way.

Moedertaal gives us a tiny flash of how little we know about all the others – their lives, their loves and their losses – even if it looks so familiar that we thought those dusty bare feet were our own for a minute.

Review: Moedertaal, The Fugard Studio Theatre, November 14 to December 2. Performances are Tuesdays to Fridays at 8pm and on Saturdays at 4pm and 8pm. Tickets (R130-R165), available via 021 461 4554 and Computicket

Pop in to the one and only Dias Tavern next door for pre-theatre dinner, best chicken peri peri and calamari in town, booking essential 021 465 7547

Spekbombing and other suburban dreams

As the windy season gets underway in the Cape of Hope and Storms we sit on a couple of ticking timebombs, one of them a natural disaster of epic proportions.

Many of us feel helpless in the face of the corruption and the selling off of the state. The ANC, founder of the Rainbow Nation, seems to have gone for a ball of shit. There go our neat little dreams of a happy ending where our silent acquiescence, complicity even, when we were too young, too scared or too comfortable to even see things as they were, gets swept under the carpet.

We feel helpless, too, in the face of the drought. The City Council, NGOs, water experts and so on squabble about who is to blame and who has had too many baths. The national government, the aforementioned and recently unhinged ANC, turns away to hide their chuckles as the DA-run city faces its own Armageddon.

My first cuttings … but is it definitely Spekboom? Buddha seems to think so …

Most of the people who might read this will be fine. Whatever happens, we will likely be able to buy water (for those few pesky applications where wine won’t work as a substitute) and antibacterial gels and vegetables and meat at “disaster” prices, and medicine even, should it come to that.

It is the others, the silent hundreds of thousands who have never been on the internet, who will  become parched, disease-ridden water refugees. They will wrap up their few possessions in bags and battered suitcases, pick up their many children and start walking, leaving livestock dying and bloating in the fields.

These are not pretty pictures but more of us are becoming aware, way too late, that they are realistic scenarios and actually quite probable. It will eventually become all of our problem.

Those of us not scratching a living in an increasingly inhospitable land, suburbanites who have the benefit of the time and space to ponder the future, are not always in touch and realistic in a meaningful way. But many of us in the wine-soaked middle classes aspire to being good citizens … well kind of, as long as we don’t have to miss aerobics. (It costs quite a lot you know)

Much as I hate to say it, even those of us who see the likelihood of an Armageddon around the corner, want to “get involved” only in ways that do not involve too much risk … or effort even. Be a good citizen without too much effort or real danger: it’s the South African suburban dream.

And [add drum roll here please] along comes Spekboom, which is not just a gardener’s dream, although it is that too. This tree, like many plants that are indigenous to this region with its capricious weather and varied environment, will grow forever (or, at least, 200 years) on a hint of moisture and the distant sounds of laughter and the wafting smell of braaied sosaties.

Listen to the podcast that got me started … (I don’t know who made it but she said please share it)

 

Those of us who missed the Struggle, because we were too young, too white or too ordinary are now excited by the call to arms of guerrilla gardening; Spekboom is our only ammunition. This indigenous miracle plant, presumably stripped out of forests and gardens in favour of English Roses in the colonisation of the landscape, is a veritable warrior against drought and climate change. And … wait for it … it is delicious in salad!

I am serious … a master of carbon sequestration and delicious and nourishing to boot. This takes cool cuisine to another level. Being incredibly fire resistant it makes perfect fire breaks, it grows in the desert (which we might soon be living in) and is a source of water for human and animal consumption.

The call to arms here is to pick it, share it, propagate and plant it. That’s my kind of war.

And in an effort to avoid being on the wrong side of history again I checked with a friend who is a conservationist. She, who has spent a lot of her career managing the removal of invasive species,  said there was no reason at all not to go Spekbombing.

Bombs away!

Zeitz Mocaa: It’s about us

Even in Milan, in London, in New York and other art-obsessed places it would have been difficult this week to totally escape the hype around the opening of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz Mocaa), the world’s largest museum of contemporary African art, in Cape Town.

In the Mother City, too, there was a haze of sparkly dust. Some of us also got a street-level, bottoms up view inside the belly of the beast and saw a lot more than hype: less smoke, more mirrors.

How we gasped when we heard about the many millions spent on re-imagining and refurbishing the old grain silo at the V&A Waterfront.

How we ‘Oohed’ when we were told that tickets to the opening VIP reception cost R70k a piece. How we ‘Aahed’ when we heard the party was being hosted by Gucci, as if the Italian fashion label was a better choice than, say, MaXhosa, Stoned Cherrie or David Tlale (but of course we are still trying to turn our gaze away from those crumbling old edifices in the north).

Thankfully, two icons who featured large in stories about Zeitz Mocaa (which is widely being called “Africa’s Tate Modern” because it couldn’t possibly just be what it is of course) in newspapers around the world were our very own, universal superstars, Desmond and Nelson. Tutu, Mzansi’s beloved Arch, was at the VIP launch, probably not wearing any Gucci at all. He is reported to have made a phone call to the recently departed Tata of the Beloved Nation, Nelson Mandela, and reported: ‘Madiba says Yes!’

Cartwheels on the roof

That was surely the green light for the last of the cynics and doubters…

Whether you got caught up in the hype or not, totally ignored it, rejoiced in it, let it get up your nose or smiled wryly as it slid elegantly off your gold lame tank top … the only thing you should not have done is let it obscure the actual point of it all.

Did you see it? Did you go? Oh the beauty, the newness, the poignancy and the pure playfulness of this enormous space filled this hopeful continent’s creative minds.

Even if the Letraset-style descriptions of the work in the brand new galleries were already shedding the odd letter and the café on the top floor is not yet open, you could have stood in the cavernous spaces and just let yourself consider the possible connections between the past and the future and all the millions of points along that continuum.

You could have felt fussed and freaked out about “all these white guys” who still seem to be large and in charge. You could have felt angry that the whole show seems to be built on an outdated and out of favour power system. You could have felt annoyed at the American and European names, or you could have felt grateful for the opportunity to stand in front of the art. In that moment you could have felt that most exclusive of things: the feelings that were available only to you in that exact moment and specific space at that limited time … which is over now, like the rest of the past.

William Kentridge is a white guy, too, but wow he gives so many of us a lot of pleasure and makes us pause as we wonder at how we feel so constricted by our past and free of it at the same time.

The Gucci party was probably pretty fab but, as Italians superstar moments go, I think it was eclipsed by a golden moment in Milan this week when the original supermodels Carla Bruni, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford and Helena Christensen joined Donatella Versace on the catwalk to mark the passing 20 years ago of Gianni.

It just goes to show that everything has a perfect place and time. PS The five were dressed in gold, floor-length gowns and the late George Michael’s Freedom was playing as they walked along the runway. A golden moment indeed!

Back in Cape Town, you might be thinking of the Zeitz Mocca opening weekend: “Oh puh-lease, I live in Cape Town, I don’t have to be part of the bun fight of an opening weekend with its free tickets.”

You might add: “I am not one of those people who turns up to queue rain or shine (both of which were options on a typically capricious Cape Town spring weekend). I will go once the fuss has died down, it will be nicer and quieter then.”

That misses the point totally. The opening weekend was packed with all the usual suspects, plus a lot of people who don’t normally ‘do art’.  They posed and people-watched and took selfies in front of Nicholas Hlobo’s haunting dragon in the cavernous atrium while their children did cartwheels on the roof, providing a totally different show and a snapshot of us.

It is, indeed, about us. You can choose to see it or not.

 

Pleasing to the mind, the body and the soul

Andile Ndlovu, Thami Njoko, and Javier Monier in a new ballet by Adele Blank

If it feels too good to be true, it probably is, the saying goes. Too good to be true = couldn’t be better … or could it?

It was certainly dreamy enough watching a wonderfully varied programme of top quality dance at the SAIBC International Ballet Gala at the Artscape recently, with professional dancers from as far afield as Mongolia, Armenia, Belarus, Cuba, Egypt and Mexico. (Patriots need not worry: this international smorgasbord also showcased brilliant South African dancers Angela Malan, Andile Ndlovu and Thami Njoko.)

All this took place at a theatre in downtown Cape Town on a warm, wind-free Saturday evening at the beginning of Spring. So what disrupted the total self-satisfaction and bliss, you might wonder. The discovery that one of the next stops on this tour takes place with the bushveld as the backdrop. Ballet in the Bush at the Legend Golf and Safari Resort in Limpopo on September 9 is a fantasy so perfect that I can’t quite get my head around it.

It would be remiss not to mention the two other performances of this programme at Cambridge Mountain School at Hartbeespoort on September 5 and at the Mosaiek Teatro in Fairland, Johannesburg, on September 7.

Feeling is everything: Angela Malan with Javier Monier and Thami Njoko

But back to my own night of near-perfect bliss at the Artscape. The combination of riveting pas de deux and solos from Giselle, Swan Lake, Paquita and Le Corsaire and neo classical works meant the programme lived up to the promise of being #BalletLikeWeLikeIt, pretty much whomever the ‘we’ was.

The jaw-dropping power and grace of the classic dances together with the mind-bending surrealistic thrill inspired by the shape-shifting neo classical numbers results in a programme that talks to mind, body and soul, young and old, traditional and modern.

Bengingazi, the world premiere of a new piece by South African choreographer Adele Blank, particularly, was the sort of dance that is brand new yet incredibly familiar. It is whatever you want it to be. Feeling is everything; thinking nothing, if at least for those few moments.

Thinking is nothing: Javier Monier, Thami Njoko and Andile Ndlovu

Presented by Dirk Badenhorst, the chief executive and founder of the biennial South African International Ballet Competition (SAIBC), the programme was presented in association with Artscape and supported by South African Tourism. Ballet in the Bush, dance tourism … they seem to be on to something.

Performers included: Maria Rudenko, Artemiy Pyzhov, Monier Javier Jouve,  Anujin Otgontugs, Hassan Eltabie, Mariam Karapetyan, Jonhal Fernandez, Lissi Baez, Dzianis Klimuk, and South Africa’s Angela Malan, Andile Ndlovu and Thami Ngoko.

Book: Computicket. For tickets in Hartbeespoort call Dirk Badenhorst on 083 324 0940, and for ‘Ballet in the Bush’ at Legends email reservations@legendlodges.co.za or call 012 443 6700

Swing into spring in downtown Cape Town

Gangsters and their molls, bootleggers, poets and playwrights, flappers and assorted dandies … just another night at your favourite tavern in town, you might think, but Cape Town’s monthly swing nights, which are launching on 1 September at the Reserve at the Taj, promise a whole lot more.

As winter breathes its last misty breaths, Gerald Schreiner, Daneel van Der Walt, David Lubbe and the Swing Cats will present a night of Prohibition era swing, jazz and blues music you can dance to.

Think foxtrot, swing, tap and jitterbug, and tunes like “It’s too darn hot”, “Let’s call the whole thing off” and “On the sunny side of the street”.

These Prohibition era nights (sans Prohibition of course) will bring a little Speakeasy-style decadence to Cape Town’s kinda sleepy city centre.
Guests are asked to dress the part, although it is not compulsory.

“Think of an old school dinner dance, of speakeasies, flapper dresses, flatcaps and champagne glasses moulded off the breast of Marie Antoinette,” the organisers said in a statement.

A sit-down dinner will be available from 7.30pm, and the show starts at 9pm.

Expect this to become a Capetonian institution!

Tickets available here: https://speakeasyswing.co.za/