Township Voices. The Assembly Room. The Music Hall. Julia Pascal.


The Dloko High School Choir from Umlazi Township

The audience went crazy for this troupe of gifted singers, especially when they sang a love song to Mandela but, for me, the performance raised certain questions.  African song dance is rooted in the group experience.  It is part of the life cycle performed by the community for the community.  When placed on a  music hall stage much is lost.  This exciting  choral expression can be effective in a space where the audience is in close physical proximity to the ensemble but, at the Assembly Rooms, The Dloko High School Choir appeared crushed and restricted.  At times they reached their hands out to the audience and those in the front row, grasped them with enthusiasm.  This is the kind of body to body appeal that was bursting to get out  and was frustrated.

The African song was interspersed by Scottish musicians and singers which  showcased the local talent but the two cultures seemed to come from different planets and there was little attempt to integrate or connect  the two apart from one final communal song.  The West needs to find a way of presenting authentic African companies in a more imaginative way  to allow African song and dance to break the fourth wall.

Ends 14 August.


Assembly Rooms.

Julia Pascal © 2014.