'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?
Posts by Bridget Pitt unless stated otherwise.