New Prague Dance Festival 2009

Something will be brewing this week in the heart of the Klein Karoo. You may want to be on the lookout for the Montagu Music, Art, Dance and Drama Festival (MMADD) as it’s hitting the town of Montagu tomorrow.

Now it may be cold out, but what better way to warm up the winter blues than with a festival line-up that not only can be enjoyed but participated in, too?

All aspects of art from music, photography, dance and literature to poetry and drama are on offer. Latin and ballroom dancing, choirs and ensembles are some of the highlights. Primarily a youth arts festival, it draws talent from Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Mossel Bay and George.

An annual event started in 1995 by local teachers and volunteers, the fest works closely with the Rural Arts Development programme (RAD) and is an opportunity for talented youth in the rural communities to have a performance platform and a chance to network with artists and professionals from all over the province.

Running for the past 17 years, last year saw the festival host almost 1 000 participants from 31 schools in primary, high school and tertiary education institutions.

“There’s the KKNK and the Grahamstown Festival which mostly cater for adults, but here’s one focusing mainly on the youth. It’s to enable performing and visual artists and give them a platform to showcase their talent. Each child is adjudicated and receives a certificate of entry,” says festival director Helen Gooderson.

A first for the festival this year is the hosting of international competitors Zeynep Okcu Ballet School from Turkey. “The Turkish participants will also be doing workshops with our local projects and ballet dancers,” says Gooderson.

Trophies will be awarded in various categories and additional prizes include a master class with Emile Minnie with the winning choir; a drama master class with Godfrey Johnson for the school with the Best Drama entry; a Through the Lens workshop for the photography winner and tickets to watch a production by Cape Town Opera, the National Ballet of Cuba at Artscape Opera House and the musical Kat and the Kings at the Fugard Theatre in Cape Town.

• MMADD Festival starts tomorrow and ends on July 28. For more info on the programme, visit the Montagu Youth Arts Festival Facebook page at Tickets cost R10 for adults and R5 for kids in the afternoons, and R20 for adults and R10 for kids in the evenings.