A dancer with the Ayana Dance Company/Afrika Ablaze.
A dancer with the Ayana Dance Company/Afrika Ablaze.
A dancer with the Ayana Dance Company/Afrika Ablaze.
A dancer with the Ayana Dance Company/Afrika Ablaze.
Ayana Dance Company/Afrika Ablaze wants to set the stage alight with their latest production When Cranes Cry, set to debut at the Baxter next month.

Glenda Jones, who founded the dance school 20 years ago, has over the years been ingenious in creating intelligent and thought-provoking productions, with the aim of leaving her audience more informed.When Cranes Cry is no different as it questions humanity and where it is heading.

For about five months, she said she made a concerted effort to watch the news every day - and her findings were that most of what was being shown was “bad news”.

“Not a day went by when there wasn’t a clip shown on war somewhere in the world. We have come to expect the war news.”

She said that as a society we have become desensitised to violence - “the death of children, for example, has become the norm”.

“Every day in our lives on this planet there is a war going on over language, money, the economy, words and power. It makes me anxious that there is very little peace in this world.” Besides the external wars, people face their own internal wars, she added.

Using these themes she wrote a production highlighting and questioning the state of humanity.

“I have an opportunity once a year to produce a show that will leave a message of transformation,” she said.

Instead of giving her audience something superficial, she would rather leave a message of transformation.

“We need to create awareness on how we need to live.”

The point she makes through her story shows that innocent children are always the victims of war.

The name of the production When Cranes Cry is inspired by the story of Sadako Sasaki, a Japanese girl who was diagnosed at 11 with leukaemia as a result of the Hiroshima bombing when she was two years old. According to legend, folding 1000 origami (paper sculpture) cranes brings good luck and goodwill.

According to Sasaki’s friends and family she folded beyond 1000 origami cranes but sadly passed away, a victim of war.

According to Jones, the Japanese crane is one of the world’s rarest and most beautiful birds - a symbol of long life, happiness and a source of inspiration to artists and poets.

“However, the crane is also known for its extraordinary intuitive ability to sense perilous danger. Maybe when they cry they are telling us to listen to the world.”

She said the story was based around the fact that in spite of the many tragic examples of war, the powers-that-be continued to find reasons to go to war. She added society had also become anaesthetised to war

Although the idea for the story has been around for a while, Jones only started writing the script three weeks ago.

The story is set in 2030 after World War III and the effects of radiation on humans has resulted in a crossbreed between humans and robots, which Jones has termed Humots. They are unable to feel or comprehend emotions and have limited movement.

“Through the lens of an author the show evolves with episodes of historical evidence and futuristic premonitions while the heart of the story is graphically outlined through a cacophony of gregariously vibrant and sensitively sobering dance excerpts exposing the tragic ramifications of war while simultaneously endorsing the beauty of a life worth protecting.”

In spite of the story delving into the realm of science fiction, Jones said she usually wasn’t a fan of the genre, but her passion for excavating emotions and issues led the story in that direction.

The choreography is by Danielle Jones and Glenda Jones, while American composer and songwriter Henry Ross Bloomfield composed the theme song and music excerpts.

However, putting together a production of this calibre was not easy.

Jones said they had the talent in terms of dancers and actors to make the show a success, but were always on the hustle for costumes and make-up. Professional make-up and costumes are central to the story.

Travelling costs for the cast were also quite expensive as well as the cost of meals.

“I want a break for a child. I want them to believe they live in a world of miracles. I want them to see that there is humanity.”

Anyone who would like to support Ayana Dance/Afrika Ablaze Dance Company can call 063 367 8691. The show runs from May 1 to May 5 with seven shows - two matinees and five evening shows at the Baxter.