With a fabulous blend of contemporary and African dance, Jazzart students pulled off a hugely enjoyable show – full of energy, happiness and meaning. This recent short run of performances at Cape Town’s premier arts venue, Artscape, is a hugely positive reflection of Jazzart’s continuing brilliance.
The striking, fresh and relevant choreography belies the fact that Jazzart is rather remarkably going to be 40 years old – it was established in 1973 by Sonje Mayo and is the oldest contemporary dance company in the Cape and the country, perhaps the continent too.
Not only was the dancing fabulous, but the actors, comperes, costumes and music were simple and effective. If only expressing feelings non-verbally was always so poetic and beautiful to behold.
For the first and last pieces, each performer held up cardboard made signs with single words or phrases such as ‘wealth’, ‘freedom’, ‘Goeie Lewe’ and ‘Izwe Lamp’. These added power and impact as well as adding meaning to the dance. It was a reminder of Jazzart’s remarkable achievement in cutting across the usual ethnic divides one still finds so easily in South Africa, indeed in the arts around the world.
‘Goodness comes to those that wait’…‘It’s my World’: the choice of music was superb and delightfully accessible. The 5 to 7 year olds with their cartwheels and hip personal interpretations of What’s the Time Mr Wolfy melted the audience’s hearts, and ahh’s reverberated around the auditorium.
Then there were the two glamorous and witty girls who made brief appearances throughout to give a brief on what we were about to see, speaking not just in English but in Xhosa and Afrikaans too.
Another star of the show was the dancer who started off in her wheelchair. She is extremely small in stature and the fact that she had one of the leading roles made a powerful impression. Thabo’s solo break dancing particularly impressed my seven year old daughter, who immediately afterwards was enquiring about dance lessons. I’m pretty tempted myself!
Class fees are reasonable (R300 per term for the children’s class) and very central – Jazzart is based in Artscape by the Civic Centre, along with other outstanding local performing companies – Cape Town City Ballet, Cape Town Opera and Cape Philharmonic Orchestra. Judging by their student performances in this concert it is easy to see why Jazzart Dance Theatre is stable mates with such prestigious institutions.
Kate Crane Briggs
For help navigating Cape culture, including tours and events, contact Kate Crane Briggs on firstname.lastname@example.org +27 (0)72 377 8014
The annual Jazzart Dance Joint Showcase ran 3 – 9 December 2012 at the Artscape.