By Nigel Thorpe
Once again, the military footfalls of a departing army echoed loudly around the Forum. On Thursday night at Jerash however, the sounds came not from the sandaled feet of Roman centurions, but from the leather boots of South African majorettes.
After five highly successful shows, three in the Sound and Light Theatre, and the last two in the Forum, it was time for the majorettes to pack their boots and batons and head off home to Cape Town, South Africa. The young South African girls will, however, leave a little of themselves behind in Jordan in the hearts and minds of their Jordanian audiences.
In many ways, the troupe’s Theatre and Forum performances were direct opposites of each other. The small Sound and Light Theatre audiences watched the marcher’s black silhouettes shimmering with the phosphorescent gleams of luminous accessories. The larger Forum audiences saw instead, the young majorettes in brightly coloured uniforms perform their baton spinning marches against a bright shimmering sea of background light. The two images, one like a black and white photographic negative, and the other a living color print, could not have been more different from each other. Both, however, were enchanting.
The group’s trainer, Vanessa Helders, started the troupe in 1993. The full troop of fifty majorettes were recruited from one school in Cape Town. Within five years, the group had won two consecutive championships (1998 – 1999). The idea for the trip “ was born in the Internet Chat room and finalized when our ‘Internet friend’ came to South Africa to see one of our shows” said Vanessa. “Captivated by what he saw, the Jordanian visitor arranged an invitation to the Jerash Festival - and here we are.” Financial constraints reduced the number selected for the Jerash Festival performance to twenty-five. Deidre, the youngest majorette in the festival troupe is ten years old, whilst the oldest, Danielle, is fourteen.
Francisca, the group’s director, told Albawaba that “the girl’s had enjoyed every minute of their time in Jordan. The trip to the Dead Sea, and the show we gave in the old royal palace to the children of the King Hussein Orphanage, were the two memorable highlights of the girls’ trip. The sight of all the orphanage babies in their tiny cots brought tears to my eyes, “ added Francisca. The older orphanage children watched the show with delight and were excited when the majorettes handed out presents as mementos of their visit. The majorettes did not, however, forget their friends and families back in South Africa and stopped off in Amman to buy bags and bags of souvenirs.
After their final performance to a packed Forum, Albawaba asked the group’s trainer Vanessa Helders about her feelings on leaving Jordan. “ We’ve loved every minute of our stay here, “ she said. “The reason why we love Jordan is that the people are always smiling - we love them for that. Thank you for the memories that we’ll never forget.”
The troupe’s director, Francisca echoed the same sentiments. “The people of Jordan are very friendly and full of love. We feel very safe here, but we don’t feel safe back home. It would be wonderful to take this security home with us so we could live in a safer and happier environment.” Although they are often preoccupied with financial woes, the majorette’s Jordanian audiences should perhaps count their blessings and savour the peace and security in their country that money alone cannot buy -- Albawaba.com
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )