A flock of pigeons flew over the dancers, as if they were part of the performance, their birdy shadows flitting over the square in the middle of the city at lunchtime. The dancers danced in their groups, first – Indian dancing, Pantsula, Gum Boot Dancers, a ballerina and her Prince Charming, and more.
Then they mixed it up a bit, with the ballerina joining the Gum Boot Dancers, a beautiful mix of culture and movement. Finally, they all danced together, all 65 of them, in a dance inspired by Alfred Hinkel. It was all very ‘Rainbow Nation’ and ended with a dance party involving the dancers and their audience – some who had come especially, others who had just stumbled upon this fabulous free performance. I love my country.
It was part of the Infecting The City Public Arts Festival, something I’ve been meaning to go to for the past couple of years. This year, I finally went, with my lovely friend from varsity, Leigh, who is visiting. She grew up in Cape Town, but now lives in Australia, which is too far away.
In a side street, six triple-human-volume puppets with their puppeteers below them joined in the dancing – a naughty priest, a wonderful old lady and their friends. I love puppets. They just seem so, well, real. I guess that’s the sign of a good puppeteer.
The puppet people then led the procession through the city streets, with a brass band, jiving and weaving and eliciting smiles from the city’s stream of humanity. A bunch of schoolgirls joined the procession, singing along to the band, and I got all teary at the loveliness of it all.
At Cape Town Station, in the hot lunchtime sun, we saw Asanda Kaka and Valentina Argiro’s beautiful, heart-shattering and extremely effective installation – 3600 A Day. It’s a cry against the normalisation of violence against women and children in a country which has a rape reported every four minutes. Every four minutes. And those are only the reported ones. Horrifying.
The installation is incredible though – hundreds of tall wooden crosses, each with a dress over it, some with mirrors on top of them so that when you walk up to them, you see yourself. Chilling, but hauntingly beautiful. Asanda Kaka was there, and came over to chat to us. She’s young, cool, an artist to watch.
From there we went into the Golden Acre, shopping centre with its franchise stores and neon commercialism. We gathered in the centre hall to watch a fabulous Pantsula cautionary tale of the city. The dangers of city stress portrayed through high energy dancing and music that made me want to wiggle. Three guys and a host of children-angels, all in white with wings, kept us rapt.
We got hungry then, so ambled off to find some food and watch the people go by. I love the city, it’s hum.
As we ate delicious, fresh salads and drank Berry, Mint Iced Tea, Leigh looked at me and said: “Well that made me fall in love with Cape Town all over again.”