Posts in "Joburg"

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

Cape-style treats for the people of Jozi

PongraczThings are looking up for our brothers and sisters in Jozi. First, the news that the DA (with a little help from Julius and the Red Berets) will soon be filling those potholes, and now a little something else cultivated in the Cape … and I am not talking about Bubbly, although you might want to pour yourself a glass of Pongracz in a moment.

A birdie just whispered in my ear that Cape Dance Company’s wonderful 1,000 Shepherds is on at the Joburg Theatre this weekend as part of a collaboration with Moving Into Dance Mophatong and Tshwane Dance Theatre.

There are just four performances, from 18 to 21 August. Go on then Joburg, be the decisive and discerning people you say you are and book those tickets right away!

Review: Journey
through another world

1000ShepherdsA Thousand Shepherds takes your breath away as it screams out to all your senses, most loudly to the sixth one.

Inspired by the concept of pilgrimage, the African première of Spanish-UK choreographer José Agudo’s acclaimed work skillfully takes the audience on a spiritual journey that borders on the religious.

The invitation to start the journey is flamenco-inspired, rhythmic and flowing movements where the costumes mimic the dance, magnifying the seduction. I didn’t really understand the costumes (original design by Kimie Nakano) when I saw them on the pre-show stills but, boy, did they make sense once they started to dance!

Barely imperceptible shifts in style and speed build to a tribal tempo, which is both haunting and thrilling.

And then it is over too soon, leaving us feeling like we had only just glimpsed another side where we too are at one with sound and movement.

We are fulfilled, but long for more.

The sensational Sillage takes Gold

Sillage won a a Gold Ovation Award at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, the only one given this year.  How I love it when I back a winner: This is what I thought:

The lingering scent of derailed destinies

At first I wanted the actors in Sillage, at the Princess Alice Hall at the National Arts Festival on Friday, to hurry things up; soon I was silently begging them to slow down. It was too late that I remembered a mother’s wise words: Be careful what you wish for.

The show begins in an allegorical style with Rebecca Makin-Taylor and Michele Belknap sorting through their physical history and play-packing boxes as they set the scene by talking to the audience and moving their chairs around the stage. Ho hum, I thought.

The mother and daughter gently and repetitively walk and talk us into the mood. I fidget. Then – boom, crash, bang – the gloves come off and suddenly it is way too real.

Never mind gloves off, the ladies get their knives out. The audience gasps and winces at the cuts, which are deft and familiar to many. We are begging for mercy … and allegory.

Written and directed by Penelope Youngleson, Sillage is the story of old wounds reopened and new ones inflicted as a mother and daughter pack up the family home together.

As the two disagree on what to do with the garden tools and patio furniture and pack up a lifetime of videos and books, they unwillingly unpack some old baggage, revealing elements of their “derailed destinies”.

Terrifyingly on-point, Sillage is a reminder of how we can sometimes be our worst selves in moments that demand that we be the best we can be.

Essential viewing for anyone who is losing patience with an ageing parent and wanting them to get a bit more real. Stick around, slow down, hopefully there will be plenty of time for that later.

Sillage (siːˈjɑːʒ/ noun: the degree to which a perfume’s fragrance lingers in the air when worn)

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Standard Bank Ovations Awards are given to outstanding new productions on the National Lottery Fringe. Once a production has received an ovation award, the company is invited to propose a new work to the following year’s arena programme. Of the more than 318 productions and performances submitted to the National Lottery Fringe this year, 232 were premiers and eligible for consideration for an award.

Our favourite winners: Rust Co-Operative for Sillage and Daneel van der Walt for Dani and the Lion, who won a Silver Ovation. We are hoping to catch Danieel at the Alexander Bar in the next few weeks, hopefully in both Dani and the Lion and Angels On Horseback: Reloaded, which is described as Cape Town’s favourite rude, raunchy and rocking Country Cabaret. What’s not to love…

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In a world of too many standing ovations (according to some), one that seemed to have the support of everyone as the National Arts Festival at Grahamstown closed was a surprise Standard Bank Standing Ovation Award presented to Ismail Mahomed, who ends his tenure as artistic director of the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown at the end of July.

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Grahamstown: a breeze after Benoni and/or Boksburg

National Arts Festival chief executive Tony Lankester recognised the nine-year commitment Mahomed had made to the festival, saying he had “transformed the programme, filled it with richness, and left a lasting legacy of excellence”.

Tony also revealed one of the lesser known reasons for his choosing Ismail in the first place. He had lived in Boksburg (or was it Benoni), after which Grahamstown should be a breeze.

Ismail larked about a bit himself (one hoped, at the time) when he suggested that people take photos of the award winners and share them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram … and Grinder.

His quip turned out to be bang on target though since the 2016 Adelaide Tambo Award for Human Rights went went to Drama for Life, which presented Afri-Queer at the festival.

Other Silver Awards: Artscape for both Ityala Lamawele and Die Glas Ennie Draad; Alan Parker for Sacre for One; Rust Co-Operative for The Graveyard; Explosiv Productions for Dangled.

Ovations Awards: Kristin Hua NG-Yang for BIRD/FISH; Matt Newman for Cock; Sibikwa Arts Centre for Chapter 2 Section 9; Theatre for Africa for Ebola; Uyabona Ke for Falling Off the Horn; Artscape for Henrietta with Love; One Shushu Day Artistry for Msaki and the Golden Circle; Nombasa for Nombasa; Hungry Minds Productions for Out of Bounds; Lebo Leisa for Paleho; Neo Motsatse for The Concert; Bloom & Stone for Tease!; Liquid Fusion for Burn; Moving into Dance Mophatong for ‘…feathers…’; Klara van Wyk for You Suck: and Other Inescapable Truths; UJ Arts & Culture (a Division of FADA) for For Coloured Girls Who Have Considered Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuf; Lexi Meier for Fabric of the Universe; ExploSIV Productions for Thenx Presents Aza-Nya is Five-To.

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It is worth exploring the harsh and beautiful landscape a few miles out of town

Merit awards: Sibonele Dance Project for Abangawona (The Unseen); Umsindo Theatre Projects for 10 Days in a Shebeen; Slindile Mthembu for Milked Voice; Well Worn Theatre Co for Rat Race; Outreach Foundation (Hillbrow Theatre) for Isaro; ExploSIV Productions for The Dark Ages.

Best works by students: Most Promising Playwright of the Year Award: Namisa Mdlaloze and Pueng Stewart for University Of Cape Town’s Figs. Other nominees: Thembela Madliki of Rhodes University for Nyanga and the cast of Pharmakon by University of the Free State for a devised script.

Most Promising Director Award: Thembela Madliki of Rhodes University for Nyanga. Other nominees: Sarah Nansubuga Wits University for The Village and Dara Beth of University Of Cape Town for Figs.

Best Production Award: Rhodes University for Nyanga. Other Nominee: University Of Cape Town for Figs.

Short, sharp stories collection:
Best story: This Could Get Messy by Greg Lazarus.
Runners up: This Is Not A Joke, Maureen by Gail Schimmel and Angel Heart by Kobus Moolman.
Editor’s choice: Learning a New Language by Fred Khumalo
Highly recommended: Jim Goes to Durban by Anton Krueger and Pravasan Pillay; Number One With A Bullet by Christopher McMichael; The Derby by Ofentse Ribane; The Viewing Room by Diane Awerbuck; The Seduction of Ozzie Stone by Stephen Symons.

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And the heavenly Kenton-on-Sea just 40 mins drive away

The announcement of who was to be included in this year’s collection had extra gravitas after the news this week that South African author Lidudumalingani had won the 2016 Caine Prize for African Writing for his short story Memories We Lost, which featured in the 2015 Short, Sharp Stories anthology Incredible Journey: Stories that Move You. Festival chief executive Lankester described the Caine prize as the ”Oscars of continental writing”.

The National Lotteries Commission contributed R10 million to the fringe this year, and assumed naming rights to the event. National Lotteries Commission media representative Sershan Naidoo said: “The National Lotteries Commission is honoured to have been the principal funder of the National Lottery Fringe and congratulates all the worthy ovations winners. The NLC is proud to have been able to provide a platform for the talent that has been recognised at this year’s National Arts Festival.”

Cast of superstars shine at Naledi Theatre Awards

Naledis There were lots of gasps, some sighs, plenty of laughter and even a few tears at Tuesday night’s dazzling Naledi Theatre Awards ceremony at Gold Reef City in Johannesburg.

A fabulous cast of South Africa’s most colourful characters kept the audience entertained throughout a glittering evening that also paid tribute to more than a few local legends.

There were plenty of thrills, and even some spills, with one glamorously attired award winner taking a tumble from her nine-inch heels and doing a full roll on the stage before getting up and giving her acceptance speech looking surprisingly unruffled. She will remain anonymous since, as we all know, what happens in the casino stays in the casino.

The lady in question’s graceful recovery and Jonathan Roxmouth’s copycat roll on stage soon banished any remaining anxiety. Roxmouth was a star of the night, walking away with the Best Performance in a Musical award for his captivating lead role in Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, as well as performing a genius of a number on the night.

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Gaynor Young accepts the inaugural Lesedi Spirit of Courage Award

From great recoveries to extraordinary ones: Gaynor Young appeared on stage to accept the inaugural Lesedi Spirit of Courage Award. After the ghastly accident during a production of the musical Camelot at the State Theatre in 1989 doctors hadn’t expected her to be able to live independently at all, much less to travel widely giving inspirational speeches and accepting awards.

Giving all the credit to her mother, Young said: “Courage! That is such a noble and powerful word suggesting bravery and fearlessness. I possess neither!”

“I am simply taking part in this wonderful thing called life. Like everyone, I have experienced downs as well as ups. I am unbelievably fortunate in that my life is surrounded by love. And that has made all the difference,” she said.

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The Lyric Theatre at Gold Reef City

The Lyric Theatre at Gold Reef City provided a suitably smart and shiny backdrop for a star-studded audience, although Idols judge Somizi Mhlongo outshone even the dazzling surroundings with his silver suit, pink hair and luminescent talent. His camply gorgeous (or was it gorgeously camp) performance was a huge crowd pleaser.

Reminding us of another time and another dream coat, Alvon Collison, on stage to accept a lifetime achievement award, took at least one of us back more than three decades to that wonderful Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, in which he played what the show’s author Tim Rice described as the best Pharoah in the world.

David Kramer paid tribute to the late, great Taliep Petersen, another of Tuesday’s lifetime achievement award winners, with the help of Petersen’s sister and youngest daughter.

Fiona Ramsay won Best Lead Performance in a Play for two different plays after apparently “tying in first place with herself” for roles in Miss Dietrich Regrets and Doubt. Her co-star in Doubt, Janna Ramos-Violante, won the Best Supporting Actress award.

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High-flyer Cathy Specific was among the star-studded audience

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Up and coming theatre critic Sphelele Dludla, left, and Phakamisa Zwedala who plays ruthless gang leader Pope on Isibaya

Marking an important first, Moagi Modise’s Lepatata (director: Makhaola Ndebele) had the crowds cheering in many languages when it won the Best Ensemble category, the first Setswana play to win a major theatre award.

Another bulls-eye in terms of the zeitgeist was scored when Khayelihle Dominique Gumede was named Best Director of a Play for his vivid interpretation of the evergreen Crepuscule about love across the colour line.

Baxter Theatre’s Lara Foot walked off with a clutch of awards for Fishers of Hope: Best Production of a Play, Best Supporting Actor: Phillip Tipo Tindisa; Best Set Design: Patrick Curtis and Best Original Choreography: Grant van Ster.

Much favoured leading lady Thembi Mtshali was also honoured with the Executive Director’s Award for the vast contribution she has made over the years.

Another steady South African favourite who has tread the boards at the Baxter in the not-too-distant past, Mark Banks, was fantastic as host of the show.

Musical maestro Nataniël’s out-of-the-box After Animals took home five awards: Best Score/Arrangement/Adaptation; Best Lighting Design: Kevin Stannet; Best Sound Design: Larry Pullen; Best AV/Animation: JanHendrik Burger; and Best Costume Designer: Floris Louw.

In addition to Roxmouth’s Best Performance in a Musical award, Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street took home the award for Best Director of a Musical/Revue (Steven Stead) as well as the Joan Brickhill Award for Best Production of a Musical.

Janice Honeyman’s Sister Act also caught the eye of many, with Candida Mosoma taking Best Performance in a Musical, while Rowan Bakker won Best Musical Director and Phumi Mncayi took Best Support/Featured Performance.

Gregg Homann’s thought-provoking drama about Alan Paton, A Voice I Cannot Silence, walked away with three awards. Best Lead Performance in a Play (Male) went to Ralph Lawson, who portrayed Paton. Bright newcomer, Menzi Mkhwane, won the Brett Goldin Award for Best Newcomer/Breakthrough and Homann and Lawson won the award for Best New SA Script.

The powerful and searing one-man show, Johnny Boskak is Feeling Funny, received the Best Production: Cutting Edge nod for writer and co-director Craig Morris.

Best Production for Children (0-12) went to Shrek, The Musical JR, which was staged by Jill Girard and Keith Smith’s People’s Theatre, while Making Mandela took the honours in the Best Production for Young Audiences (13-17).

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Surprise and delight: Ladysmith Black Mambazo ended the evening on a high

Gamelihle Bovana received the award for Best Performance in a Childrens’ Theatre Production for his performance in James and the Giant Peach.

A special award, the Sophie Mcinga Emerging Voice Award, went to Thandazile ‘Sonia’ Radebe.

Just when the audience thought it couldn’t get better, the evening ended on a truly high note when the internationally renowned Ladysmith Black Mambazo appeared to accept a World Impact Award and to rock the house a capella style.

– African News Agency (ANA)

A raucously familiar Unfair Lady

Hayleigh Evans and Rachael Neary are excellent in this rapid-fire satire that was written by Gwydion Beynon (of Epicene Butcher fame). It is part of POPUpstairs, the festival of Joburg shows at Cape Town’s Alexander Bar

As the title suggests, there is very little delicacy here as a cracking script takes aim at all the silly self-conscious staples in your common or garden variety women’s magazine

Sometimes seeming like a bit of an inside job (to this former magazine journalist anyway) the snipes work equally well when applied to dedicated readers too (you know who you are).

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Hayleigh Evans Photo: Nardus Engelbrecht

Your favourite columns will likely be here. Who doesn’t occasionally have a giggle at the Agony Aunt? Then there is the whimpering wish-I-was-a-star journo interviewing Charlize Theron. And what mag would be complete without How to please your guy and Achieving earth-shattering orgasms (separately). Fashion advice is bang on trend with this issue’s hot tip being black people and LGBTs as social accessories.

A little detour through the weird landscape of a tragedy ‘showing’ on a social media site near you is as excruciating as it is funny. The story looks horribly familiar as we watch the family of a terminally ill child become obsessed with telling the story. Soon the ‘miracle’ they seek is a million billion facebook likes or a trillion Twitter followers. Shining a light on social media’s way of magnifying the trivial and trivialising the enormous gives us all a chance to laugh a little at ourselves .. or at least at some of our facebook friends (we’d never be like that).

The ladies’ silhouettes shown on stage as they dance and change behind a sheet lit up from behind is a cunning and playfully provocative device that creates a little sexiness and keeps the pace and rhythm up between pieces.

Booking at www.AlexanderBar.co.za