Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dance, Art and All that Jazz

- Linda Jaquet -

Alfred Hinkel, the Artistic Director of the Cape Town-based Jazzart Dance Theatre believes passionately that Prince Albert has the potential for the successful establishment of a creative arts centre. Two years ago Jazzart held a week of highly-successful dance workshops in Prince Albert for youngsters in the area and followed this up with performances in the town by the company’s trainee dancers. Alfred and his colleagues have since raised the funds to fulfil their hope of developing a community arts project in Prince Albert leading eventually to a fully-fledged centre where young people can be trained in the performing and visual arts.

Jazzart propose to use their twelve year involvement with the communities of Okiep and Clanwilliam as a model for their plans in Prince Albert. In both these rural towns, they initially focused their workshops and performances in the local schools. As part of their Living Landscapes project in Clanwilliam, Jazzart and their partners host a week-long series of workshops in Clanwilliam each spring. Young people learn the art of lantern-making, puppetry, fireworks, dance, mask-making, rhythm and story telling. The week concludes with a parade through Clanwilliam at sunset and an open-air performance by the community, for the community. According to Alfred, community enthusiasm has increased every year and about 5 000 people joined this year’s parade.

“I believe that this would be easier to achieve here. After all you have artists and people with a range of skills living here and their contributions and ideas are vital,” Alfred told a group of Prince Alberters, who were interested in finding out more about Jazzart’s ideas for the town. He proposed that next year’s Olive Festival offered the perfect opportunity for a community arts project culminating in a parade and an open-air performance featuring the Jazzart dancers and local youngsters. Samuel Delport, Deputy Headmaster of Prince Albert Primêre Skool, enthusiastically endorsed the suggestion and offered his commitment to the proposed project.

“If you want to make something really work, you can’t expect it just to happen overnight, Alfred said. “If the community is interested in taking on this challenge, the time is now.”

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