CAPE TOWN ROCKS – GLENDA JONES
Dec 30th 2009, 00:00
You will tap your toes, hum along to every song, and be moved to tears,” promises choreographer and producer Glenda Jones about the song and dance gala at the Cape Town Convention Centre on December 12th.
Glenda is not interested in sympathy applause from the audience, but it’s worth knowing that many of the kids on stage at this event come from impoverished backgrounds, and paying the taxi fare to get to rehearsals is a challenge. Among seasoned performers Alistair Isobel and Vicky Sampson are Alfredo Prins and Lana Fredrick, teenagers from Mitchell’s Plain that Glenda discovered and mentored. For these talented singers, the evening represents a quantum leap in their lives, placing them for the first time in front of a large critical audience.
Glenda is a firecracker, sporting a wild mane of hair that seems to curl in response to the passionate energy coursing through her.
At any moment, I expect her to break into Tina Turner’s “You’re simply the best”. Flagrantly anti-establishment, she’s a thorn in the side of the conventional dance world: “They regard me as a dance rookie, an untrained upstart who has no right to call myself a choreographer.” Glenda claims her own talent and does what she loves, regardless of having neither certificates or formal training. She’s sensual, at home in her own skin, enjoys her age, and boasts of the slight wobble that, at 51, her bum has achieved.
“What drives me is a passion such as you’ve never seen,“says Glenda who, 10 years ago, gave up her career as a teacher to follow her bliss – teaching kids from poor communities to dance. Glenda understands their dreams. Coming from a family of nine kids, Glenda’s parents couldn’t afford to send her to dance classes. Undeterred in her longing to dance and perform, she constructed makeshift stages in the backyard of her home in Elsie’s River. Unbridled enthusiasm is what she tries to bring out in her dancers: “None of my dancers are formally trained. They are immersed in a spontaneous dance style, authentic dance choreography and their own interpretation of movement. Their greatest asset is their pure energy. When you watch these children dance, you forget that they lack technique. Their exuberance explodes on stage.”
Glenda believes that formal dance training often kills the spirit of dance. “Some children are born to dance. Some children are taught to dance. The children that are born to dance should be left alone. Dancers must become more aware of how they feel when they dance as opposed to how they look. Instead of putting children under pressure to achieve a line, we should allow dance to evolve organically. My dancers aren’t taught to smile. They feel happy. I concentrate on inspiring children so that their joyful outpouring is their own. I’m working with children who are hungry to show off their talent and ready to step out and say to the world: watch me.“
by Dawn Kennedy