2020 has been a devastating year for the arts. Theatres closed down and all other arts activities were stopped due to the strict Covid-19 regulations during the initial lockdown. Despite the challenges Na-Beat Enterprises, an arts and interactive entertainment company, and the Stanford based NPO Creative Skills Factory, held the second Stanford Lantern Project last December during lockdown level 5. This event adhered to the local lockdown regulations.
The objective of the Stanford Lantern Project was to create a production what would showcase the excellence of the young participants of Stanford. Due to Covid-19 regulations the groups were kept small and two genres were introduced to the youngsters including dance and music. For 4 days starting the Monday the groups of young Stanfordians gathered at the local NG Church premises where the workshops would be conducted. The dance group, facilitated by dancer Chris Samuels, was presented in the church hall complete with wall mirrors. This space gave the dancers the feel of a professional dance studio where they could show off their moves and practice new ones in the mirrors. The facilitator focused on the mask and Covid-19 as main themes.
Musical maestro and saxophonist Manuel Jardine was the music facilitator. His group consisted of the local choir and their leader, Vuyo. For this workshop they utilised the church with its amazing acoustics. The group learned to play the famous “Meadowlands” on the accordion (flute) in just four days!
While these groups were workshopping their respective productions that would eventually merge into one the artistic director Ulric Roberts, also known as Namasun, and Ronesca Cloete and their team including Nicole Arendse and Rozanne Holland, were constructing the small paper lanterns and bigger structures. The group was assisted by a few youngsters from the valley as part of the skills transfer component of the project.
The first 3 days of preparations were documented by Ronesca Cloete. She captured the beautiful moments of the workshops and the interaction between facilitator and participants.
Renowned photographer, Mark Wessels from Seven Bang Media arrived on the Thursday with his team, Andrew Robb and Eric Miler, to document the rehearsal and actual performance. Mark also photographed the inaugural Stanford Lantern Project in 2019.
On the Friday evening the church hall was decorated with the magnificent lantern structures to add to the ambience of the space. It was against this backdrop that the performance took place. The participants delivered a breathtakingly beautiful performance that had the audience – the parents and funders – in tears. The different components flowed effortlessly into each other creating a stunning celebration of light, music, sound and dance.
Seven Bang Media did a stellar job capturing the emotions and atmosphere of the performance as seen in the photographs below.
The project not only kept the participants busy during these unprecedented times and brought joy into their lives but instilled a love for the arts, stimulated their artistic abilities and nurtured self-expression. The art practitioners who were facilitating the workshops as well as the media team all benefited from the project during a time where arts and artists in South Africa suffered a great deal.