A Season to Celebrate

South African society, culture, & politics

People who follow the arts news will know that the South African Ballet
Theatre has moved from Pretoria into specially designed premises at the
Civic Theatre.  The official opening of the new dance studios took place on
1 April. I, for one, am delighted to have the ballet company in

So, this really is a season to celebrate.

The three ballets being produced are "Schlager", a German ballet about
elitist people and rejection of individuals, "Hopano", a South African piece
using the music of Mozart, drums and some Miriam Makeba, and "Who Cares?", a
delightful schmaltzy piece with a Broadway feel.  All the music is by George

The programmes have gone up from R10 to R15 and are still very, very good
value for money.  I applaud the thought process that keeps me informed about
what's happening in the ballet world - it makes me feel that I'm part of it,
even though I'm never more than "the audience".  I also like the no nonsence
approach to letting one know who the composers, choreographers, dancers and
other artistic creators are and providing a synopisis of what one is going
to see.

Of the three ballets the most easily accessible was, of course, "Who Cares?"
but the most exciting was definitely the South African one.  African
drumming during the Mozart surprised me, and it turned out at tea time that
it offended at least one music purist, but it worked so well for the dance
form.  I have remarked often that the corps de ballet is going from strength
to strength and there is no reason to change my mind.  The dancers are
working very well together.

I strongly recommend that you don't miss this bit of theatre if you are in
or about Johannesburg.

Moira, the Faerie Godmother
If "Hopano" is, effectively, an assertion that drumming is on a par with 
symphonic music, and that Miriam Makeba could've taught that Mozart oke a 
thing or two, then I want to know why they wouldn't let me put on my show 
with Nico Carstens and the Johannesburg Philharmonic?
That's cheaper than a movie ticket. If ever I'm sent to exile in Jo'burg I 
think I'd have to seriously consider joining one of the ballet convoys and 
joining the Hell Angels outriders for an evening of culture. What sort of 
facilities do they have for weapon storage during performances?

Drumming during Mozart? Sounds a bit like replacing the violin with a 
chainsaw guitar and getting someone who's good at vomitting and cussing to 
make up random lyrics on the fly, and occasionally spray the audience in a 
tasteful way with her stomach contents. In other words it sounds like 
something that would only work well with a radical revision of the pieces 
in their entirety.

My brand of musical puritanism also forbids a rhythmically metronymic herd 
of penguin-suited clods from rendering unimprovised, unembellished, 
unconsidered music box imitations of the Beatles greatest hits, so this is 
not an anti-drum anti-African mild expression of alarm. Any symphony 
orchestra is capable of disembowelling the music of Miriam Makeba, drying 
its tissues out in a kind of aesthetic formalin, and then sqeaking it 
stiffly out in a "tribute" to that fine lady. (She's the one who sang 
"Baby, Baby, I love you forever", isn't she?)

Just barking, Moira; just barking. woof woof woof.
Because you're neither Miriam Makeba nor Mozart?  :-)


No, that's the programme.  The tickets start at R53 and then go up in price.
Which still isn't bad in my opinion.

You don't need to store your weapons.  You can take them in with you.  And
I've been in shows where that wouldn't have been a good idea.


It wasn't bad.  I did wonder how the pianist concentrated though.

I was about to tell you that I'm not a musical purist, but I may be telling
lies.  But having said that, I like the orchestral versions of the Beatles,
but, like Strauss waltzes, not all in one evening.  I think it was Miriam
Makeba who did the "Baby, Baby" thing.  Catchy number.

Moira, the Faerie Godmother
But old Nico Carstens was a complete genius on the concertina. Now there's 
someone who could've taught that Mozart a thing or two about music.

Yeowch! Value for money, perhaps, but only a modern day Hells Angel would be 
able to afford the tickets. (Small change compared to the cost of keeping 
the tank full).

On second thoughts me and my gang will be there next week. Nice and dark in 
the theatre. Lots of jewellery and valuable hostages. Sounds like the place 
to commit the perfect crime.

To me the orchestral versions of the Beatles always sound like they need 
some filling and a few extra movements building on the themes. A matter of 
taste, I suppose. I sometimes like the music of Sky, but they also water 
down some classical stuff too much for my liking. Bach's Toccatta minus the 
Fugue gets a bit repetitive if you hear it too often, for instance. I 
wonder what happened to Sky.
oke a
my show

Accordion, Eddy, not concertina. And an absolute wizard on that
instrument too. Had a bit of a jam session in Joh'burg too many moons
ago, and man, oh man - what fun we had.

would be
you.  And
dark in

Can't go wrong there. Crime seems to be a paying proposition in this

matter of
minus the
He certainly seemed to enjoy himself when he played. Is he still around?
Sometimes I think to myself that the final way to survive crime would be to 
take to crime. If you wanted to do something real about the drug problem, 
for instance, probably the only way to do so (assuming that no-one is going 
to be willing to see the sense of sensible legalization) would be to become 
the drug dealer to end all drug dealers. Literally.

I've even considered this possibility in more depth. If you built up a crime 
gang entirely made up of people who've suffered horribly at the hands of 
crime gangs, you'd have a pretty lethal brotherhood against crime gathered.

Why this route? Well the preferable, legal, alternative is effectively shut 
down. Something like drug dealing is going to persist as long as there's 
profit in it. Simply eliminate the worst drug gang, and the others will 
just fill the niche you leave. So if you followed this notion of fighting 
crime with crime, any rival gang you could get rid of would leave a hole a 
better class of drug dealer would have to fill for any progress to be made.

Better class of drug dealer? Well instead of selling the stuff in the school 
yards of your turf you could put profits from sales at consenting adult 
outlets into killing or maiming anyone trespassing there with the intent to 
compete. And if you were a gang made up of enemies of the underworld, the 
legislature of this gang could pass strict anti-sumptuary laws. No flash 
cars and fancy houses allowed. The profits are needed for things like rehab 
of addicts wanting this ...

Fill in the details of the ridiculous idea and I reckon you've got a better 
drug enforcement agency than the official one. Not as good as regulated 
legalization, but better than the mess things are in now.

He certainly is. A bit greyer, a bit more wrinkled, like most of us that
are getting on, but he can still play. It's so easy for him, a real
master at his profession.

be to
hole a
intent to