New ways of working and seeing: Kingswood College collaborates with Amaphiko at National Arts Festival

| October 12, 2011 | 0 Comments

In August 2010, the Kingswood College concert band asked Janet Buckland, founder and Artistic Director of the Ubom! Eastern Cape Drama Company, if she would be interested in collaboration. Says Head of Music at Kingswood, Stephen Holder: “She came to see us, bringing with her Sifiso Sikhakhane, a thirdyear Music and Drama student at Rhodes University. Sikhakhane is also the choreographer working with the Amaphiko (Wings) Township Dance Project.

“He was inspired by the story told in a documentary called The Language You Cry In. Seven Rhodes students, four children from the Amaphiko Project and the Kingswood band undertook to collaborate on a dance piece based on the story. We gave five performances on the National Arts Festival Fringe this year.”

The way the piece turned out was quite different to the way the Kingswood band first imagined it, says Holder. “The dance had to be finished before the musicians could begin work. This way of working only became obvious once the project was underway. Sikhakhane encouraged the musicians to develop ideas based on snatches of songs he sang to them. Under his guidance, band members offered their interpretations and improvisations, and so an entirely original musical score grew, in tune with the dance and with the choreographer’s conception. It was a beautiful collaboration.

“Our ensemble was reduced to two flutes, two clarinets and two saxophones. Trombone and tuba made up the brass section. Bass guitar, timpani, six djembe players and two marimba players completed the line-up.

“No-one’s way of seeing is ever the same as your own. To work together with a large number of people to produce a coherent piece is extremely challenging. If you get it together, it has to have been the result of maturity, focus and perseverance. That the piece was allowed to evolve organically is profoundly exciting. The work was created — by us all.”

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Category: Spring 2011

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