Young stars shone at NEA finalsJennifer de Klerk
Jennifer de Klerk: The stage was big and dark and open - definitely somewhat daunting – at the National Eisteddfod Academy finals on May 19.
Then the music came up and the spotlight picked up a single tiny figure in African traditional costume dancing her heart out …
This was the start to the finals of NEA Young Performer’s Awards at the Joburg Promusica last Saturday, a “South Africa’s Got Talent” showcase of the best of the best.
Last year close to 11 000 youngsters entered the eisteddfod in various regions – Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Free State, North West, Limpopo. For many it’s an annual event, something to work towards, a benchmark for teachers and trainers.
I know we’ve got a sheaf of gold-edged certificates dating back to the very first set of music lessons – bronze, silver, gold and then the coveted diploma, the top achievement, which wins the invitation to enter the Young Performer’s Awards.
This year 1 293 entries were adjudicated in the first round in March. Then 296 individuals and groups went through to the quarter finals. Eighty of those were chosen for the semi-finals in four categories – classical music, contemporary music, dance and drama.
And now here we are at the finals … the banners on either side of the dark, daunting stage read “Developing Future Stars” and “Building Confidence”.
No shortage of future stars and certainly there was no lack of confidence – not that we could see, anyway.
One by one these youngsters, ranging in age from 8 to 18, had their turn in the spotlight … perhaps for some their first and last. Will that little boy in the Morekolodi primary school percussion orchestra, waiting with shining eyes for his solo, have such a moment again?
Some will, without a doubt. Born to perform, even the 8-year-olds held that stage with complete professional aplomb.
It was a varied programme, ranging from classical music to guitar riffs, from Celtic dancing to the precision street dance moves of Thuggacation, a quartet from Randfontein.
There were monologues in English, Afrikaans and Zulu – look out for talented Kediboni Rasekhula from the Hillbrow Theatre Project and 13-year-old Jordan Dowds; you’ll see them again.
Young Nico Thomaides dreams of a professional international singing career and with his powerful opera voice he should achieve it.
Others likely to make it on the world stage are little Iman Bulbulia, only 9 years old and already interpreting Chopin, and impressive 16-year-old Andre Breet, also a pianist, who was voted the best overall performer and won R10 000 sponsored by Artslink.co.za
It was a tough call for the adjudicators, having to select foundation, junior and senior best performers and an overall winner from such a wide spread of genres and talent.
Andre Breet was voted the best senior performer and best overall performer and won R10 000 sponsored by Artslink.co.za.
Iman Bulbulia was best foundation phase performer, Althea Steynberg on recorder was best junior performer and actress Kediboni Rasekhula was voted the most inspiring performer.
An eisteddfod provides a platform for building self-esteem, recognition and respect, says Dr Francois van den Bergh, the CEO of the National Eisteddfod Academy.
Words, perhaps, along with all the other catch-phrases, such as nation-building, teamwork, recognition of others, appreciation of the arts, exposure to other cultures. All of them will fit.
But look past the words to the faces … these youngsters light up the stage.
And now it all starts again. It is still possible to enter for the 2012 eisteddfod. Online entries are open until June 11. See www.eisteddfod.co.za
Jennifer de Klerk is editor of Artslink.co.za