2 08 2016

There are consequences of an economy in a tailspin. One of the first sectors to feel the pinch is the arts and dance is no exception.



As a trustee of the Dance Trust of Zimbabwe I am all too aware of the impact of the imploding economy on our ability to remain viable. Two weeks ago at a board meeting I expressed concern that I had bought 10% of the tickets (8) for the gala performance of the upcoming Ballet Bouquet dance show.



The Ballet Bouquet is the idea of Cape Town City Ballet choreographer Robin van Wyk. In the CTCB off-season (winter) he stages ballets in the smaller cities in the sub-region using dancers of all ages and capabilities. Senior dancers from the CTCB help bring a bit of glamour!

The fairy princess from the Nutcracker

The fairy princess from the Nutcracker

Robin came up to Harare to choreograph the pieces and then local teachers rehearsed the dancers until last week when Robin returned with the senior dancers and saw to it that the locals were up to his demanding standard.

The show consisted of a 45 minute adaptation of the Nutcracker and then after the interval there were several pieces from other well-known ballets. Yes, the Nutcracker is traditionally a Christmas ballet but in this case the theme was “Christmas in July” and the 450 orphans and disadvantaged children who attended the dress rehearsal each received a small gift.

Principal CTCB ballerina Angela Hanford shows how it's done!

Principal CTCB ballerina Angela Hanford shows how it’s done!

Six shows were staged over 4 days and with full houses for 4 shows and some 80% capacity for the other two the Dance Trust of Zimbabwe can survive for a little longer.

HIFA 2014 – Day 3

5 05 2014

Right, now that the internet is back I can post! Hopefully it will last long enough…

Day 3 was Coca-Cola day and quite a busy one for me. First off a play, The Maids, a French written tragi-comedy about sisters working as maids in Paris for a tyrannical and erratic “Madame”. Great direction by Giles Ramsey at the Standard Theatre.

Also at the Standard Theatre was a double dance bill starting with Push Pull by the Dunia Dance Company telling the story of illegal African immigrants into Spain who often die en route. Graphic stuff. The second half was Prelude by Aida Diaz and to quote the programme: “Prelude speaks of the systematic rape of beauty, the loss of innocence and ultimately of forgiveness
and redemption. A hymn to life, born from a deep sigh.”

Will McNicol’s second programme of acoustic guitar music by composers who had influenced him was next door at the NMB Recital Room.  Understated and unassuming he is an extraordinary player. I particularly liked his version of the blues – yes from and acoustic guitar! He has one more show today (Sunday) in the “Battle of the Guitars” with the other acoustic guitar players at HIFA but it’s sold out. Never mind, if he comes to a venue near you go and see him – you will be enthralled.

In the evening I caught singer songwriter Josephine from the UK. Not my style of music but it was a full Lays Global Stage and the rest of the audience enjoyed it.

In the evening was the first performance of the Dance Foundation Course’s “Baobab Shadows”. A collaboration with Dunia Dance Theatre of Belgium and Les Cliquets, trapeze artistes also from Belgium. It made innovative use of shadows and a backdrop. It was enthusiastically received by a small audience. At the second performance I tried a technique of blurring the shots to get an idea of movement. I think it worked well.

Africa light

4 12 2012

“Do you know what the diplomats call Zimbabwe?” Mark asked. “Africa light” he answered without letting me respond. “Much though our infrastructure has degenerated we still actually HAVE one and it does function. There are countries to the north of us who have a lot less”.

“Yes, that maybe” I responded “but there will always be those worse off than ourselves. That is no way to judge anything” I finally managed to get in. “I guess it’s just that we remember how it was” I added more to myself than anyone else.

“Why were you late?” Helen said, referring to my late arrival at our weekly Saturday gathering at the Gallery Delta where we discuss anything or nothing of relevance.

“I was taking photos of the Outreach Programme’s annual show for the DTZ” I replied.

“At least we HAVE a DTZ” Mark responded.

He had a point. The Dance Trust of Zimbabwe on whose board I sit does some really good work representing the interests of amateur dance in Harare. They have 4 arms and I have the responsibility of the Dance Foundation Course and get roped in to do photography when a show comes up, such as the Outreach Programme’s or the Stars of Tomorrow which had run the previous week.

Stars of Tomorrow showcases the various dance studios around the city and is a big undertaking involving hundreds (literally) of dancers.

The Outreach Programme takes dance to disadvantaged children (orphans, physically and mentally disabled) around the city in a really worthwhile programme aimed at giving a bit of self-esteem. This year their annual festival took place at the hall at the Emerald Hill School for the Deaf.

It’s not about the dance

27 11 2011

It was all too much for one youngster. He came off the stage and burst into tears just in front of where I was sitting. For 5 minutes or so he’d been the star of the show and had danced his heart out. The crowd had cheered, shouted and clapped but now he was back to reality for another year. He was one of the lucky ones who could actually dance. A lot of the other kids were so badly handicapped that they could not do much more than sit in their wheelchairs and move their heads to the music. But as I said to Gail at the end of the show it was not really about the dance – it was about giving some self esteem.

The Dance Trust of Zimbabwe, of which I am a trustee, runs an outreach programme where a small group of dedicated dance instructors go out to special schools, orphanages and the like and teach dance to the children. On Saturday I attended the annual dance festival put on by the outreach programme. It was not how I would normally have chosen to spend a Saturday morning but I had to admit it was worthwhile to see the excitement and happiness on the children’s faces as they became the centre of attention for a few minutes. Quite what happens to them once they outgrow their protected environment I don’t want to think about.

Starlight Dancing 2010

9 11 2010

The Dance Trust of Zimbabwe held its annual Starlight Dancing show last month literally under the stars outside the National Ballet premises. I was invited along to take photos. I’ve also been invited to take photos of the “Stars of Tomorrow” show later this week where the various dance studios show off the youngest dancers (I guess it will be entertaining if nothing else). One day I will be paid to do this! Actually, I don’t mind doing it for free. I need the practice and a bit of publicity is good. My last year’s photos of Starlight Dancing made it onto the cover and inside of Hello Harare monthly “what’s on” publication and were credited to the wrong person!

Just soldiering on

30 09 2009

The Dance Trust of Zimbabwe put on their annual “Starlight Dancing” show over 5 days last week. I took the opportunity to get some photo practice and they liked what they saw after Thursday night so I was invited back. It was amazing what they managed to put on considering all the various dance studios are cash strapped and the DTZ is pretty much broke.

Most of these photos are from the first night when I took photos for my own enjoyment. On Sunday someone came up with the idea that we should sell them to raise a bit of money for the DTZ and that totally changed my approach to a “mass appeal” market. The best photos are not usually from the front of the stage where the background can be cluttered!

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