'This project helped the learners to learn to love, preserve, conserve, appreciate nature and the beautiful environment that we live in. To take care of princess vlei with its plants animals, it’s beauties and hidden treasures.’ - comment by Natalie Knipe, teacher at Buck Road Primary.
The quiet streets of Sasmeer Estate came to life on Saturday as the Princess Vlei Dance Weaver procession wound through the neighbourhood, proceeding from the Retreat Civic Centre to Princess Vlei. Heralded by twenty-five young drummers, procession of over 200 nature enthusiasts included eighty young 'dance-weavers', teachers, volunteers and performers, as well as colourful banners and ten giant bird puppets.
The day began at Retreat Civic, as the young participants arrived to get ready for the procession. They had their faces painted, and made colourful shakers out of card rolls and scrap papers.
Soon it was time to line up for the procession. The dancers from Harmony Primary, Buck Road Primary, Levana Primary and Hillwood Primary lined up in formation. Since September, they have been busy creating dances inspired by nature at Princess Vlei, with the help of movement practitioner and environmental educationalist Xoli Fuyani. Vincent Meyburgh and Siyawandisa Badi from Jungle Theatre Company have helped the learners to develop drumming skills to accompany the dancers. The dancers wore t-shirts they had painted featuring creatures found at Princess Vlei, so it seemed as they moved that the Princess Vlei creatures were dancing with them.
Other children from Lotus High, Primrose Park Primary and Jungle Theatre clubs in Khaylitsha and Capricorn joined the procession, as well as actors from Jungle Theatre Company.
At Princess Vlei, the crowd was entertained by dances from the four dance groups. Lotus High learners Chandre November, Shannon Everson, Paige Eden, Ziah Booysen, Deidre Louw performed a poem entitled 'Earth Healing Dance'. This was based on discussions with learners about what was needed to heal the earth, and written by Bridget Pitt. Zeah Hartman and Jadine Grandeling from the Brave Rock Girls Manenberg group called the Daring Disas performed Strike for Global Climate Change by Michelle Kogan, and a poem entitled The earth says. The poetry was followed by a performance of Umlambo Wobomi/River of Life by Jungle Theatre Company. This animated production tells a story of rural villagers striving to save their precious river from pollution.
This project was inspired by the tradition of the spiritual healing dances that are such an important part of KhoeKhoe and other African traditional heritage. It serves the Princess Vlei Forum’s mission to raise awareness about the need to protect and restore biodiversity at Princess Vlei, and to uplift youth in the community by giving them opportunities to engage with visual and performing art and nature.
We hope that these dances will help to heal some of the troubles in our communities and in the world, while giving the learners a wonderful experience of using their bodies to express themselves, and the power of moving together in a team.
The Dance Weaver project is sponsored by the City of Cape Town Grant in Aid fund, and the Princess Vlei Forum’s educational and environmental restoration work is funded by the Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust managed by Nedbank Private Wealth. Thanks to Sarah Oliver for taking the photographs and editing the video.
Earth Healing Dance
To be used and adapted freely wherever healing is needed
Let’s listen to the heart of our great mother earth
Our ways make her sick, and it keeps getting worse
But the people who lived in the long ago times
Listened to the earth and danced to her rhymes
So let’s listen too, with our earth healing dance
If we all dance together, we might stand a chance
Coal fired power is making us choke
Filling our sky with its soot and its smoke
Climate chaos grows week by week
Bringing droughts and floods and too much heat
Let’s dance down coal, and gas and oil
Let’s dance those fuels right back in the soil
Some folks in the world got too much stuff
But too many people don’t have enough
There’s too much hatred, too much fear
Too much prejudice, not enough care
Let’s dance out hunger, dance out greed
Let's dance in sharing so nobody needs.
Our great rain forests are the lungs of our world
But they’re chopping them down, and making them burn
All plants and beings on the land and the sea
They share our home, they’ve a right to be
Let’s dance out extinction, and dance in protect
Our throw away lives fill the sea with plastic
For birds, fish and turtles, that’s been quite drastic
Our rivers and our vleis are clogged with junk
We gotta save our waters, or we’re all sunk!
Let's dance out disposables, and single use
Let's dance in recycle, reuse and reduce
It aint so hard to change how we live
We just gotta stop taking more than we give
Let's dance for nature, lets dance for life
Le'ts dance for treating all bodies right
Let’s move now together, to give earth a chance
So please won’t you join our healing dance?
Our Dance Weaver Procession on October 22 promises to be a colourful occasion, after last week,s workshops to decorate T-shirts for the event.
Senior Guardians from Lotus High will be at the event, acting as volunteers to help marshal the younger learners, and running workshops for the younger learners to make colourful shakers. They had a tie-dying workshop to tie-dye T-shirts for themselves, with stunning results. These colourful t-shirts will identify them as the helpers on the day.
The Junior Guardians, who will be taking part in dances inspired by the nature at Princess Vlei, painted t-shirts to wear. Their paintings were inspired by the creatures at Princess Vlei, particularly the fish, birds, insects, chameleons, crabs and frogs. Learners were given drawings of the creatures to trace onto the t-shirts, then painted them inspired by photographs or by their own colour schemes. In the process, they learnt about composition and colour mixing. Learners were also asked to think of words that can bring healing to the world, and to add these to their designs. The workshops were held with learners from Harmony Primary, Buck Road Primary, Levana Primary and Hillwood Primary.
The Dance Weaver event draws on the tradition of the spiritual healing dances that were such an important part of Khoe culture, and of many other indigenous nations. Learners from four primary schools have developed dances inspired by nature at Princess Vlei, with the help of movement practitioner and environmental activist Xoli Fuyeni, and Vincent and Siya from Jungle Theatre Company. We hope that these dances will help to heal some of the troubles in our communities and in the world, while giving the learners a wonderful experience of using their bodies to express themselves, and the power of moving together in a team.
We feel relaxed, feel a part of it, happy, feel like I belong in a nature reserve, relieved, excited, joyful, freedom, peace, kumnandi, gevaarlik (in a good way), awesome….
These were some of the thoughts expressed by learners on how their afternoon at Princess Vlei made them feel. The sixty seven learners were from Harmony Primary, Buck Road Primary, Levana Primary and Hillwood Primary. They came to Princess Vlei during September on field trips to observe how the animals at Princess Vlei move.
Learners were invited to go out and observe different animals and insects, and notice how they move. They were asked to describe these choosing from a list that included words like hop, slither, scurry, swoop; to draw a path tracing the trajectory of each animals movement; to observe animal tracks in the sand. Finally, they were asked to embody the animals movement in their own body, and to create a movement sequence depicting the various species at Princess Vlei.
The group from Levana were fascinated by the appearance of a mole rat, who briefly stuck his head and enormous teeth out of a tunnel to see what was going on. Other learners found grasshoppers, dragonflies, butterflies and various birds. A grey heron provided wonderful inspiration with its elegant pacing and snake like neck.
The field trip forms part of the Princess Vlei Forum’s junior guardians education project to experience nature at Princess Vlei in creative ways. Asking learners to embody the movements encourages them to feel a connection to the creatures. The project is sponsored by the Hans Hohesien Charitable Trust managed by Nedbank Private wealth.
The learners began the trip with some co-ordinated movements led by Xoli Fuyani, while Vincent and Siya from Jungle Theatre Company gave them a beat on a drum. Xoli, Vincent and Siya will be developing these movements into dances, which will be performed during our Dance Weaver’s Procession on October 22.
The following is a guest post by Hoosain Narker of Ashihara Karate.
On Heritage Day, members of Ashihara Karate had an outdoor training session at Princess Vlei to celebrate Heritage Day. The Vlei has a special connection with Ashihara Karate as years ago, we trained there for several months to show our objection against a mall being built. Our small efforts and that of many others worked as the City gave in and today, the Vlei has received quite some improvement – but there is still much to be done. Next on the Agenda is to build a walkway around the Vlei for running/Walking.
Our involvement with the Princess Vlei Forum and getting our students and members to participate in its activities can only help the drive to further improve the amenities around the Vlei and to continue with the preservation of indigenous plant and animal life.
Several of our parents/students used the occasion to enjoy a BBQ and, whilst training was light, afterwards students could have fun in the park.
Ashihara Karate was established in Retreat on 2 September 1980 by Hoosain Narker, and has its International headquarters based at LOFOB in Klip Road, Grassy Park. We consider ourselves an educational institution teaching a philosophical approach to life based on respect and mindfulness, and not just a sporting organisation. Students are taught by example. Thanks to their enthusiasm, we were fortunate to celebrate our 42nd anniversary earlier this month.
Posts by Bridget Pitt unless stated otherwise.