By Rana Nazzal
For once, the Sound and Light Theatre truly lived up to its name during a performance by the De Hoop Drum Majorettes ( South Africa ) on Sunday evening at the Jerash Festival. There was a delighted gasp when the sparse audience caught their first glimpse of the luminous, bejeweled majorettes marching onto the stage to the strident beat of heavy metal music. What followed could, perhaps, be best described as choreography of lights rather dance step patterns.
The group’s director told Albawaba that the De Hoop Drum Majorettes won first prize in the South African Majorette Championships in 1993. A second prize for Marshal Dancing followed in 1998. The girls, ranging in age from four to sixteen, train for eight to nine hours a week. Besides developing their dancing skills, this vigorous training, she added, “helps to develop the girl’s self-confidence, independence and strength of character.” The group, with its emphasis on the development of a healthy mind and body, does not accept sponsorship from tobacco firms, or those that market stimulants or harmful drugs.
The girl’s smart, black military uniforms contrasted with their bright red pompoms and luminous accessories. With swaying, scintillating dreadlocks of flashing lights, the South African dancer’s feet pounded the wooden stage with military synchronous precision. The firefly flashes of the dancer’s anklets reflected in light, the echoing footfalls that drummed the music’s beat. A brilliant solo by a baton-twirling majorette proved a welcome change from the group dance routines. With amazing acrobatic agility, she sent her luminous baton spinning high above the Roman columns into the warm ebony blackness of the night sky. This was truly one of the most impressive sights in this year’s festival. On its descent, she caught the twirling baton with sure hands and nimble grace.
The highly professional show deserved not only a larger audience but a much better stage. The stage and theatre should be renovated before next year’s festival. The only downside of De Hoop Drum Majorettes’ performance was the total lack of both introductions and short acts to fill the silent hiatus between the long dance routines. A competent “ link-lady” would place the final seal on the group’s professionalism.
The innovative show, from being to end, was a visual delight which deserved a much larger audience than the fifty-three spectators who sat dotted around the theatre. The group director’s closing words to the departing audience were “ tell your friends about the show and come along tomorrow.” If they come, they will be in for an experience they will never forget.
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )