by Evans Manyonga

Kids learn through dance and music

Music and dance are perfect outlets for children's expression and learning.

Music and dance are perfect outlets for expression and learning.
Kids learn through dance and music

An initiative which forms part of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival’s Training and Development Programme is helping children discover their creative side through dance and music. The Gigs for Kids show took place on  3 April 2013 at Groote Schuur High School. 

For many children music and dance are perfect outlets for expression and learning. 

Gigs for Kids is an interactive show for pre-schoolers incorporating music, dance and drama that allows children to explore the sounds and rhythms of different musical instruments. 

This year, more than 100 orphaned and previously disadvantaged children from two non-profit organisations - Lalela Project and Where Rainbows Meet – enjoyed the program entitled My “African Beat”.

“My African Beat” is a family orientated show that caters for ages 3-10 years. Showcasing students from the Waterfront Theatre College this show is a vibrant exploration of African inspired dance. 

The piece is linked by the story of a young boy named Ben who has dreams and aspirations of being a famous dancer in the USA. There’s one problem however, he has to make it through his grade six geography class first. Faced with the challenge of having to learn the South African provinces one day, he is visited by Stretch and Bongo his imaginary friends.

These two wacky characters take Ben on a journey through African dance such as Pantsula, gumboot dancing and the jive and show him how he can use South Africa, his homeland, to help inspire his future.

CEO of espAfrica, organisers of the CTJIF, Rashid Lombard believes the Gigs for Kids show ensures that the festival reached the entire family.

“Through Gigs for Kids we ensure that even the young ones get to experience the excitement of music and dance which is associated with our festival. The festival is about the love of music and children from some of our most disadvantaged communities get to experience and express that love themselves,” Lombard said.

It forms part of the festival’s Sustainable Training and Development (T&D) programme, sponsored by the City of Cape Town, the Department of Arts and Culture, the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF) through the South Atlantic Arts and Culture Trust, the SABC and South African Tourism.

Cheri-lee Blackie from the Waterfront Theatre Company is the director and writer My African Beat.

“I think it’s important to us we are an industry that is obsessed with celebrity.  We don’t look to where we come from and we don’t have pride in our history. We should be proud of all we have accomplished.  It’s important to communicate that to our children so they know where they come from and they are proud of where they come from so that they can continue and evolve our legacy,” she said.

Gigs for kids uses a teaching method which takes advantage of the fact that younger children have natural rhythm and helps these children develop their music appreciation and at the same time their rhythm and coordination.

Traditional instruments are not always used and recycled materials used as instruments encourage children to experiment and compose single melodies from these unconditional devices.

Paul Mashatile, Minister of Arts and Culture says the festival’s ten different empowerment and skills development initiatives represent a powerful set of interventions that provide experiences and opportunities to individuals who would never otherwise have them.

“The Department of Arts and Culture is proud to be associated with this vital component of the annual jazz event as it opens up new opportunities and expands awareness of the power of arts and culture in our society,” the Minister said.

SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said: “The SABC is proud to be the co-sponsor of the festival’s T&D programme, aimed at a new generation of musicians, arts journalists and photographers. In order for measureable progress to take place from the T&D initiative, the focus should not be based upon short term results only – developmental work requires longer time frames to deliver meaningful and lasting impact.”

Patricia De Lille, Executive Mayor of Cape Town: “It is heart-warming to know that many people and children from in and around Cape Town are exposed to music, musical instruments and rhythms in an entirely new way. The City and this festival have a long track record together: the event attracts visitors to our city while its communities actively participate in the festival. “

NLDTF CEO Charlotte Mampane said:  “The National Lotteries Board is happy to be part of the training and development initiative of the South Atlantic Arts and Culture Trust that will see youth empowered through various programmes and thereby becoming more marketable. Under the leadership of our Chairperson, Professor Nevhutanda, we are all very passionate about the job creation in the thousands of organisations we fund each year. We are confident that the training skills will help the youth access job opportunities.”


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