The Phillips Academy Departments of Dance, Music and Art showcase “Rhythms of Hope” — a multi-disciplinary work drawing on South African influences — for two shows this weekend before taking the production to South Africa in June.
A group of 26 students, including several from Andover, have been collaborating for several months to craft a performance that allows them to tell their own stories through a fusion of various art forms.
Musicians have drawn on the jazz sounds of Hugh Masekela, Abdullah Ibrahim, Charles Mingus and Moses Khumalo, all of whom were jazz composers inspired by social justice movements. Visual artists have created digital projections, painted fabrics and vibrant costumes influenced and inspired by American and South African culture. The overarching dance piece has been choreographed in a contemporary style, moving from lyric, soulful sections to athletic and playful interludes.
Participants say “Rhythms of Hope” aims to take viewers on a journey that explores the themes of relationships, power struggles and the quest for personal freedom. They hope the end result honors the unity and connection all individuals have to one another, ultimately leaving viewers with a final message of hope for humanity.
The performance will travel abroad to be part of a large South Africa Arts Project that will occur this summer. Students will have the opportunity to visit Johannesburg, Cape Town and Grahamstown, staging the show at various locations throughout the country, most notably at Oprah Winfrey’s Leadership Academy for Girls and the National Arts Festival Grahamstown.
Students will also have the chance to observe how South Africa’s social and political story is unfolding and how it is being communicated through the arts. Over the past few months, they have begun examining the various social themes they will encounter and have explored how the ideas of oppression and the quest for personal freedom manifest in individual’s lives.