Twenty two years ago, a community arts project in Benoni, east of Johannesburg was formed by Phyllis Klotz and Smal Ndaba. This year, Ndaba and Klotz retire from the Sibikwa Dance Company and present six of its productions as part of their swansong.
Sibikwa’s showcase includes African Animal Tales, a moral story about the ancestors, and Rhythm Falls, an indigenous African orchestra with interactive, rhythmic music conducted by Neo Leleka.
A play directed by Klotz, Ma’ Lindi – The sex strike, is a violent sex comedy based on Aristophanes’ play Lysistrata. Famba is a traditional dance and music line-up in which performers from Casa da Cultura do Alto Mãe from Maputo, Mozambique collaborate with Sibikwa performers.
The eye of the storm, workshopped earlier this year by the Sibikwa Dance Company, is choreographed by Cherice Mangiagalli and Butoh dancers Boaz and Anike Barkan, and Trash Truck, a street theatre production, is performed inside a big recycling refuse container. This showcase is an environmental programme aimed at awareness for hygiene and street sanitation.
Sibikwa comprises non-professional young performers who in the past have obtained tuition and artistic development with Sibikwa’s endorsed service provider with MAPPP SETA (a Department of Labour-funded institution for arts tuition), support that has, in the past enabled them to enrol for learnerships.
As a community development project, Sibikwa has survived with funding from the private sector and external funding, and organisations like the National Arts Council.
“There is a need for a community arts centre policy, which will construct regulations for government backing because it is not easy managing such centres without government assistance,” Klotz says.
Sibikwa has more than 50 young people performing in this year’s festival employing a permanent staff of 56.
“Sibikwa is like my child and I feel privileged to have been part of the process and seeing how it grew from nothing to where we are now,” said Klotz.
“My most satisfying moment from all these years would be the joy these kids show when performing and in that sense, that gives me hope that our arts and culture is in safe hands.”
Klotz and Ndaba are looking to engage with the creative writing arts as they are both currently working on novels which will contribute to the teaching of South African arts.
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