Sightlines: Maitisong Festival 2016, April 14 Review



Journey with poet and writer, Maipelo M Zambane as she offers daily reviews and critiques of some of the 2016 Maitisong Festival offerings.


In the third installment of Sightlines [n. any of the lines of sight between the spectators and the stage.] we recollect on the knowledge shared in the first ever Maitisong Spoken Word panel session as well as the evening performances.


DAY THREE: 14TH April 2016

Today was a great day; I started off by attending an interactive panel discussion led by artists, entrepreneurs and art enthusiasts conversing on the possible solutions to stimulate the arts industry in Botswana.  The issues that hit home for me was of the need to nurture talent from a young age; train journalists to comprehensively research and report on different art forms and the importance of using the creative’s influence to advocate for policy changes such as tax breaks, and allowing accessibility of art forms beyond our borders.


As the Sun set, it birthed a night promised to be one of splendor and entertainment. Namibian dance group Ombetja Yehinga Organization (OYO) gave a wonderful performance that moved me to tears. It is fascinating how the human body can be used in its entity to narrate an emotional story. From the harmonious hand and feet movement to discernible facial expressions and complimentary costumes, the theatrical dance showcase was that telling stories relevant to our society.


The message of the first piece unraveled the quilt of gender based violence, a topic that every Motswana can relate to as it is destroying the very fabric of our society.  The dance piece was punctuated with dramatical motifs ranging from love, religion, rape, unrequited love which eventually turns to abuse and suicide; but it was the powerful musical arrangement/selection and lyrical content that drove the message home by emphasizing  the mood, tone and atmosphere of each scene. Spellbinding, powerful execution, succinct delivery of message and experienced choreography are some of the words that came to mind when watching the OYO performance . The second offering by OYO was to raise awareness to the plight of inter-generational sex especially in the educational field and highlighting the dire consequences of such illicit affairs on the marital, family, and social fabric.  It was an emotional performance that left the audience in silent reflection.


Local dance group Sky Blue Dance Hub under the direction and choreography of Tumisang Baatshwana gave a fantastic dance performance which I have decided to title ‘creatures under my bed’.  The detailed black and gold body art coupled with the costumes complimented the fluidity of the dance piece and that added effectively to the overall feel of the performance. I especially loved  the fun, frilly stage setting that gave a whimsical feel with balloons and towering statures. There was one particular dancer that was a crowd favourite because of his skilled contortionist skills and admirable toned body.


Award winning Mophato Dance Theater, was the highlight of the night as they gave a stellar showcase of a mash up of varying art disciplines. The spiritual song and praise was inspirational, the praise poetry was phenomenal, the contemporary and traditional dance acts were breathtaking and the music accompaniment was nothing short of outstanding. The performance ended to a response of a  roaring applause and standing ovation  from the audience.  I was thrilled that Mr Andrew Kola, a talented visionary, founder and lead choreographer of Mophato Dance Theater had managed to capture the essence of inter-disciplinary collaboration of Art forms that was raised as one of the solutions to packaging our art in Botswana during the panel discussion.


Overall I thoroughly enjoyed my day, I engaged with artists that are willing to unite for the growth and development of our art industry and I was spellbound by the display of local dance talent. In closing Kola plead with the crowd to invest in availing the arts industry with funds and creative spaces to practice/ rehearse their art and for the recognition of dance as a viable full time career option.


I look forward to seeing what tomorrow has in store for me.

Maipelo M Zambane is a poet, writer, businesswoman, social media enthusiast and co-founder of MOscripts a literary advocacy group that wishes to preserve our culture through written and spoken word. She loves hanging with family and friends and is a sucker for a perfectly grilled T-bone. Follow her on twitter, instagram and her blog.