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Movement and Music - Grahamstown Festival 08

2008-07-04 14:34
Amanda Strydom's Soul Songs
Too-much-whiskey songs, more like, but the Graham Hotel isn't the kind of venue where you can drink and have lunch - the cabaret tag is all about the conversational style of performance. Amanda Strydom seems to be leaning over the low-lit bar to you, where you sit alone, saying "Darling, just let it all out." She counsels her audience to keep living past the pain of lost love. She lets you embrace the resilient memories of an eerie past that stubbornly glows. Perhaps a past full of memories of days on whites-only beaches - which are still just beaches in a childhood, to you. She asks her audience how many of them are Afrikaans, and the first three rows raise their hands. She asks who's English and the last three rows raise theirs. There's no need to inquire if anyone is Xhosa. The massive farmers and their wives, filling in the middle rows, don't move, but I saw a big man wiping tears away. Whatever the language Amanda speaks, it's hard to listen to her sing and not be overcome.
- Jean Barker

Ayashisa Amatheki
Directed by William Mbambo
Brilliant dancing, lots of energy and great costumes. But this visually exciting production is badly marred by occasional attempts to force a narrative on everything. The narrative is also delivered in a mixture of different languages, making it very hard for anyone who doesn't speak them to follow the story. Just shut up and dance?
- Natalie Sineke

Remembering You Like Something I'd Forgotten
Louise Buchler
How do you feel about your memories? Like you, the seven characters of Remembering You Like Something I'd Forgotten each have memories they can't erase, and important details they just can't recall. With few props or effects for company, their memories are stitched together to try and make sense of it all. Remembering gets bonus points for impressive physical set-pieces and crossing languages convincingly, but a clincher ending is missing. That clumsy last step aside, this is a cute, well-constructed drama that might make you remember that 'thing', you know, that 'thing', that you'd forgotten.
– Niel Bekker MUSIC

Old Mutual Encounters
Syd Kitchen and Max Normal
If you didn't get to see this amazing collaboration – full of warmth, banter, and unique performances by the artists both together and separately, we're really sorry to hear that. You missed out. We'll be putting up some video of it in the next few days, though, and there's already an interview done behind the scenes at their rehearsal that you can check out on our National Arts Festival site. Also amazing: Esjay Jones from Stealing Love Jones plus Ntsiki Mazwai. These sisters showed everyone how colabs should be done. Watch the video
- Jean Barker

Bar Flies
Choreography: Roslyn Wood-Morris Performers: Gerhard Bester, Craig Morris, Rayzelle Sham
Great physical theatre with a good mix of pretty funny comedy. You'll find delight in the velvety motions, sexy movements and enticing gestures of each dancer as the performers exercise amazing control of their limbs while executing tricky routines – whether they're teetering on the edge of tables, balancing on stools or just simply untangling themselves from one another. And while the production is technically almost flawless, the theatrical part is also pure gold. It's peppered with comedic morsels, and if you've ever visited a bar before you'll either recognize yourself or someone you know in one of the three characters.
- Megan Kakora

Dance to the Rain Queen
With the Taiwa Jazz Band
There's a fine line between touching and cringe-inducing, and this Limpopo Province cast danced over the line again and again. Right up front, the rambling narrator announced that the audience - "you people" - would be soothed and entertained. But the stage lights are set up uncomfortably half on the audience, making it hard to relax and disappear. The music is soaked with legend Moses Taiwa Molelekwa's feverish, new age jazz style. But the Taiwa Jazz Band wear T-shirts showing a queasily green-looking Molelekwa. The band, though talented and passionate, don’t play with quite the skill of Moses' collaborators. Still as the dancers come out and the vibes build, something special happens that you only experience live in a theatre, and it seems better just to let go.
- Jean Barker

The Standard Bank Jazz Festival at Grahamstown had that "magic". It was like a spiritual congregation, but for cool cats with Vespas and Mini Coopers. If you were feeling the music, for instance, you could shout it out, shout anything, just to let the band know you were there too. If you tapped your foot loudly or clapped your hands, that would be fine, as long as you kept time with your neighbours.
Read the full Standard Bank Jazz feature

Jula – Depth
Dudu Manhenga and Color Blu
A magical performance by all members of the Zimbabwean Afro Jazz band, watch this space – these guys are heading for the big time. Dudu is at the front of the pack, having worked with the legendary Oliver Mutukudzi, she certainly has an X-factor. Her voice is the colour yellow – vibrant and full of life. What stands out about their performance is the patriotic tone of it. Their jams are almost freedom songs, reminding us of the ancestral and spiritual significance of Zimbabwe for Africa. They are a true example of the role of artists in political struggles. Check them out.
-Natalie Sineke

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