Our term write up aims to give you more of an in depth insight into the work we have done so far than the weekly updates have to offer. The hosts have done such amazing work and the students have made so much progress in both confidence and skill and we want you to know all about it.
We began with the auditions. We were looking for ten students who showed talent in any sphere of the arts but, more importantly, showed that they would be dedicated to the programme. On the day of the auditions twelve girls arrived and there was certainly no shortage in the talent department. We could hardly believe that the majority of the girls answered “no” when we asked if they had received any previous formal training. We were also taken aback by the variety of talent displayed. Auditions ranged from dancing to singing to acting to stand up poetry. On top of that, most of them are multi-talented. One of the girls, for instance, delivered a moving recital of a poem she had written herself. When we asked her if she had any other areas of interest she nodded and proceeded to belt out a verse from a hymn in an effortlessly powerful voice. Of course, after all this, we could not bring ourselves to exclude two of the girls from the programme. We announced, to their delight, that all of them had made it through.
Our first term at Marion High consisted of eight workshops that focused loosely on the physical and vocal aspects of performance. Kelly Eve Koopman, a founder and director of The iNtombi Workshop, hosted the first workshop as an introduction to the programme. Mikkie-Dene Le Roux,an actress with a passion for yoga, hosted the second workshop on just that – yoga. Lesoko Saebe hosted the next three workshops in which she taught the girls a dance routine to Beyonce’s “Get Me Bodied”. The sixth workshop was taken by Kelly Eve Koopman again and focused on introducing vocal work. Koleka Putuma, an accomplished poetess (check out her writing here), was our final external host. She gave a workshop on poetry writing. Catherine Saint Jude, a founder and director of The iNtombi Workshop, wrapped up our first term with a workshop on creative writing and voice.
It is important to us that our students’ have agency over the creative process and are able to bring in their own narratives and creative voices. Kelly did an activity with the the girls in the introductory workshop which set the precedent for this. They had to choose a random object from a bag and create a story around it. They were then put into pairs and had to create a short skit which involved the stories from each others’ objects.
When we said the girls grew in confidence and skill, it was during Lesoko’s workshops that this was most evident. It was fascinating to witness the relationship between the two, how confidence facilitates the growth of skill. As Lesoko began teaching the dance the girls were unsure of their ability and so could not commit to it fully. Lesoko stopped them and spoke to them about how important having confidence is in the industry. She pointed out that what makes someone stand out in an audition is their confidence. As soon as the girls were brave enough to commit to the dance, their ability improved massively.
Koleka did an interesting exercise during her poetry writing workshop called “Tell me five lies about the sky.” The girls had to write down, yes you guessed it, five lies about the sky. The exercise aimed to get the creative juices flowing but, on a deeper level, to question what defines poetry. What stopped their list of five lies from being a poem? This question was the premise of the exercise. Well, their lies were certainly creative enough to be poetry. “The sky is made of stay-soft”, “No other country has a sky, only South Africa does” and “The sky is made of happiness” are some of our favourites.
We think its safe to say, our first term was a success. It has been so amazing getting to know the girls and watching them grow. We have so much belief in their potential and are so grateful for the opportunity to help them realise it. We are also incredibly grateful to all the hosts who gave up a bit of their valuable time to help our programme run successfully and we know the girls are too. Our second term has already started and we will begin posting weekly updates about the workshops soon. Thanks for reading!