Di­ver­sity kicks in around strip­tease pole at Gra­ham­stown

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - GABI FALANGA

THIS year’s Na­tional Arts Fes­ti­val in Gra­ham­stown has been a melt­ing pot of ac­tiv­ity with an eclec­tic pro­gramme of mu­sic, the­atre, dance and art. Stan­dard Bank’s young artist for jazz, Siya Makuzeni, left no doubt dur­ing her per­for­mances at the jazz fes­ti­val as to why she was awarded this ti­tle.

The vo­cal­ist and trom­bone player treated au­di­ences to phe­nom­e­nal scat­ting.

Makuzeni’s com­po­si­tions had a dis­tinctly African feel, and moved away from tra­di­tional jazz with their use of voice loop­ing and re­verb.

The four-piece band, con­sist­ing of Mark Frans­man ( pi­ano and key­board), Keenan Ahrende (gui­tar), Ben­jamin Jephta (bass and dou­ble bass) and Sphelelo Maz­ibuko (drums) that ac­com­pa­nied her at her se­cond show, gave a tight per­for­mance.

Makuzeni proved her dex­ter­ity as a mu­si­cian when she also played trom­bone dur­ing a piece com­posed by Jephta.

Many of this year’s per­for­mances slot­ted in well with the fes­ti­val’s over­ar­ch­ing theme, Cel­e­brat­ing Women.

A dance per­for­mance chore­ographed by Nadine Joseph for her PhD ad­dressed rape cul­ture and the male gaze. Although the show, called Looking/ See­ing/ Be­ing/ Dis­ap­pear­ing, made ob­vi­ous ref­er­ences to the male gaze and sex­ual vi­o­lence, it was also left open to au­di­ence in­ter­pre­ta­tion.

“It seems like women are de­fined through the way men see them,” dancer Craig Mor­ris said. .

“We played with those images. We didn’t want the piece to be overly di­dac­tic. The au­di­ence could project their own mean­ing on the piece.”

It be­gan with three male dancers, Mor­ris, Fana Tsha­bal­ala, Thu­lani Chauke and vo­cal­ist Daniel Nu­bian pulling down a large ma­te­rial lilly which had been erected around a strip-tease pole, re­veal­ing Joseph.

She spent most of the per­for­mance on the plat­form around the pole while the three men danced, their move­ments some­times mim­ick­ing sterotyp­i­cal male be­hav­iour, at other times im­i­tat­ing male ex­pec­ta­tions of women.

Joseph’s jar­ring move­ments en­hanced the image of ob­jec­ti­fi­ca­tion and her re­duc­tion to a sex­u­alised be­ing.

An ex­hi­bi­tion which also ex­plored vi­o­lence, vul­ner­a­bil­ity and con­flict, was that of South African pho­to­jour­nal­ist James Oat­way.

Called En­e­mies and Friends, the ex­hi­bi­tion con­sisted of images taken dur­ing con­flict in the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo and the Cen­tral African Repub­lic.

It in­cluded pic­tures of the xeno­pho­bic vi­o­lence in South Africa in 2008 and a se­ries of well-known pho­tos of the fa­tal at­tack on Mozam­bi­can hawker Em­manuel Sithole last year.

The images showed many con­tra­dic­tions: civil­ians go­ing about their daily busi­ness, walk­ing past a bul­let-rid­dled house, Con­golese sol­diers at the foot of a beau­ti­ful moun- tain, and young, in­no­cent-looking child sol­diers car­ry­ing weapons.

Oat­way said although he was some­times “scared to the bones”, he was driven to tell sto­ries that were un­der­re­ported.


This year’s Stan­dard Bank Young Artist Award win­ner for Jazz, Siya Makuzeni, per­fom­ing at the Na­tional Art Fes­ti­val.

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