Thupelo Workshop


The Thupelo workshops were the first Triangle workshops in Africa; this year it is thirty years since the first one outside Johannesburg. The 2015 Thupelo workshop at Ruth Prowse has indeed been a celebration of creativity, ideas and skills sharing and interactive exchange. There has been a harmony in the diversity of ages and practices; I feel in myself and I observed around me a happiness in all that has been happening! Each day, each participant {including myself} felt a new confidence to explore and open up to inner and outer stimuli, extending their practise or shifting and sometimes deepening their engagement with the work at hand. Conversations, sound installations, presentations, performances, a digital piece, hands and minds improvising images into tangible forms. The intermittent sound of the mbira floated through the school; staff, students, the participants and the support group contributed to the lightness and the gravitas of this embracing, productive workshop.

With reference to my own practise I got tied up in the inevitable knots and tricks set in place by the “guardians” ; trying too hard and over working; asking the usual questions, what for, how, why…and then I slipped into it, creative energy taking over from neurotic energy. Colour becomes an independent agent that filters through hands, emotions and feeling, psyche seeks the message that colour distributes. So undoing became the way through. By laying down, peeling away, stripping, revealing and using the walls of my little room as my surface I was not contained by an edge, my work gained fluidity and did not resolve. I did not find much but I lost a lot. There are love letters and postcards, calligraphy in space just as the dancer is; all these internal chattering left me, there is terror in listening until the literal is forgotten and even poetry becomes still. Just the mbira was welcome. Improvised synchronicity is away from reason but has an intelligence. One afternoon I slipped through the guardians and I worked very well; just a chink, a glimpse of what could be on a flat surface with colour.

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