@Fest Please will you switch ON your phones

Please will you switch ON your phones

In celebration of this year’s 40th anniversary, the Festival has launched P(AR)take, a phone application (or “app”) that takes festival goers on a virtual tour through contemporary South African dance history while they move between different venues. This innovative feature on the main programme makes use of new technology to reflect on the last few decades of dance history.

Partake starting under the arch. (Sara Steiniger)

Partake starting under the arch. (Sara Steiniger)

The tour starts under the Drostdy Arch and is led by Jeannette Ginslov, the curator of the project. Participants can view 10 videos of different choreographers’ work, as well as read up on the historical circumstances which influenced each one. The guides encourage participants to discuss their ideas and questions as they proceed on the tour.

Although it is the first time that an app of this nature has been used as part of the Festival, Ginslov hopes that the app will expand to reach a much broader scope over the next few years.

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The first tour began yesterday and attracted a small group of followers, but people drifted off as the tour progressed. Perhaps it failed to meet their expectations, or maybe they just got tired.

Participants are required to bring along a fully-charged smartphone or tablet, from which they can download the app and view the videos. Those without smartphones, or those who do not want to walk for 3km, would be advised not to attend. One of the greatest shortfalls with a tour of this nature is its dependence on technology to function. Many of those with smartphones became frustrated with the technology or did not have enough battery life to last the full tour.

Conversely, Carolynn Bruton, a regular festival goer who is interested in new technologies, says the tour was one of her highlights at the Festival thus far, but there is still room for improvement. “The tour was enjoyable,” she said, “but I expected to go to real historical sites and see people in costumes as part of the tour.”

The virtual tour idea is a welcome addition to this year’s programme, but with a couple of adjustments could be a lot more attractive.

P(AR)take, starting at Drostdy Arch, 8–11 July, 11am



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