IKUSASA LETHU Human Rights Day Preview Concert
The Music Discipline in the School of Arts recently held a Human Rights Day Preview Concert and workshop at the Howard College Theatre featuring IKUSASA LETHU, a professional ensemble comprising African Music and Dance (AMD) students and staff.
The ensemble’s Director Dr Patricia Opondo of UKZN said: ‘Musicians have typically played important roles in speaking out against Human Rights abuses worldwide. We used the occasion to give our first-year students an opportunity to share the stage with the AMD Professional Ensemble IKUSASA LETHU.’
IKUSASA LETHU was formed by Opondo in 2000. ‘At that time the South African Department of Arts and Culture was looking for applications from groups around the country to represent South Africa at the Hannover 2000 World EXPO in Germany.
‘IKUSASA LETHU then comprised 12 African Music and Dance students including a band and together with an ensemble from the UKZN Jazz section participated in an exciting international showcase of world music and dance,’ said Opondo.
It now also provides a creative platform for students to workshop and present their original compositions and choreography.
The group previously performed in Canada, Peru, Germany, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Sweden and Denmark.
IKUSASA LETHU means OUR FUTURE. The name was deemed appropriate to capture the vision of the ensemble and what they planned to achieve through providing a creative platform for young artists interested in pursuing a career as professional performers.
The Human Rights Day concert featured a repertoire and choreography by African Modern Dance, Percussion, Umzansi, Isgenyane, Xigubu and collaboration with LABELLE – an electronic musician from the Reunion Islands visiting Durban under the umbrella of Alliance Francaise.
LABELLE also did a workshop with the performers in preparation for a Human Rights Day Performance at Sutton Park, Morningside.
Opening for IKUSASA LETHU were African Music and Dance first-year students presenting a repertoire from the following modules: African Music Ensemble 1A under the direction of Mr Lebogang Sejamoholo and African Music and Dance 1A – Ngoma Dance under the direction of Ms Thabile Buthelezi.
Buthelezi, an up-and-coming young artist, choreographed most of the routines and found the challenge of striking a balance between performing and classes to be difficult but she prevailed with the ongoing support from friends and family.
‘I have been dancing from the age of eight and this is what I am passionate about. This is my craft. It was also a learning curve to work with LABELLE and his choreography to electronic music. Coming from traditional African music and dance, it was a challenge to adapt but we learnt a lot,’ she said.
Opondo added: ‘There are also plans to participate in CULTURE WEEK hosted by the Kenyatta University in Kenya in November. There are also several pending projects to be confirmed by the end of this quarter, so be on the lookout for more exciting events.’
- Melissa Mungroo