Athlone groups gear up for carnival stage

Nabeelah Mohedeen

Two Athlone groups, the Eoan Group School of Performing Arts and Bridgetown Theatre Company, will both be performing at the seventh annual Cape Town Carnival on Saturday March 12, at the Green Point Fan Walk, with the theme “Street Life”.

The carnival promises to be a celebration of South African identity, showcasing the diverse communities and cultures.

Over 2 000 dazzling costumed performers and musicians will take to Cape Town’s Fan Walk, entertaining viewers with magical floats and vibrant dance routines.

The Eoan Group School of Performing Arts from Athlone, informally known as the Eoan Crew, will be performing for the sixth time in the carnival. The group was established in District Six in 1933. It offers a dance and performing arts programme to children from disadvantaged communities, teaching them various disciplines including classical ballet, modern dance, hip hop, African contemporary, drama and music.

Group leader Shafiek Rajap said: “Mastering a discipline in the performing arts helps you to build capacity and confidence which ultimately helps our community and the arts as well as their daily lives.”

“This group is a historical inheritance and I’ve been honoured to be leading them for the past 15 years. Knowing that we are teaching and moulding the youth who will become the leaders of tomorrow, and making a difference in a child’s life through the love and passion of the arts is the ultimate reward,” he said.

Mr Rajap added that the Cape Town Carnival has given the group a sense of opportunity and confidence to many of the dancers, and has created excitement for everyone – with more of their members wanting to participate each year.

“Being part of the carnival has taught us an appreciation for living in the most beautiful city with the most colourful cultures in the world.”

The Bridgetown Theatre Company’s moto is “The world is our stage” and with that the group aims to better the community through music, dance and art, giving locals a place to escape from the harsh realities in their area.

Artistic director, Theo Davids, said the group wants to honour the legacy of the older residents who laid the foundation of performing arts in the Bridgetown and Athlone areas.

“We want to nurture and further the amazing God-given talents of the residents in Bridgetown. We want to prove that we can turn this passion into a career,” said Mr Davids.

The Bridgetown Theatre Company programme is orchestrated by residents who are passionate about performing arts and provide a constructive space for the youth to encourage them to stay off the streets. Since the Bridgetown Theatre Company started in 2009 they have performed at the Baxter Theatre, Artscape and produced and performed in six films for SABC and MNet.

One of their most memorable performances has been participating in the Cape Town Carnival.

“The Cape Town Carnival gave us the opportunity to perform on a large and professional scale. It showed our students to take pride in a quality performance and not to use ‘oh, they come from a previously disadvantaged background’ as an excuse,” said Mr Davids.

When asked what they enjoy most about the Cape Town Carnival, Mr Davids replied: “It’s always a memorable experience when different communities come together for a common goal. The Cape Town Carnival has also brought people from diverse socio-economic backgrounds and racial persuasions together to celebrate a common purpose of presenting a carnival parade that everybody can be proud of.

“We want to further establish the Bridgetown Theatre centre and continue to be a part of the iconic Cape Town Carnival. We have so much more to offer Cape Town.”

Cape Town Carnival creative director, Brad Baard said the theme “Street Life” aims to showcase how our different styles and cultures connect us.

“Street Life is about the people and dynamics at play in a public space. Towns and cities are built of people and relationships, not bricks and concrete. We all have different styles and cultures, but are connected by the vibrancy of the streets. ‘Street Life’ aims to make these invisible connections visible,” said Mr Baard.

This year’s celebrity line-up will include comedian Siv Ngesi participating for his third year and other local personalities including Liezel van der Westhuizen, Zoe Brown and Danny Ross joining the parade.

Carnival organisers are encouraging all spectators to get involved by dressing up and spreading the festivities beyond the parade barriers.

* The event starts from 3pm on the Green Point Fan Walk with a variety of food and crafts on offer. The streets will be closed for final preparations at 6pm, giving carnival-goers enough time to find the perfect viewing spot, find their seats or make their way to one of the many restaurants along the Fan Walk before the show begins at 7pm. While the event is free, those who want the best view of the Cape Town Carnival action can purchase tickets to secure elevated seats along the route. Visit www.quicket.co.za/events/13869-cape-town-carnival/#/

For details on the 2016 Cape Town Carnival, visit www.capetowncarnival.com, like them on Facebook www.facebook.com/TheCapeTownCarnival, follow them on Twitter @CTCarnival or Instagram @capetowncarnival and use the hashtag #CTCarnival2016 and #StreetLife.