Each week, I share one of the writing prompts used the previous Friday in my weekly workshop, along with an example of what was written in response. Today’s prompt (allow just 5 mins in total) is…Find a memory of a piece of art/performance, in any form (music, dance, theatre, painting etc etc) that really inspired and moved you. Immerse yourself deeply in that memory for a minute or two. Then write for three minutes.
As often happens, I was surprised by the memory that came to mind, a gumboots dance performance by a youth drama group ‘Ikamva le Afrika’ I worked with in South Africa. This is what I wrote:
I was watching you from the crowd, a large audience the likes of which you had never performed in front of before, but you were totally unfazed. Your immaculate timing, your collective joy and commitment, pride in what you were doing – wow – I get goosebumps all over again remembering it. And then – the after glow. I was there, basking in the joy of your excited, exuberant faces when an older white lady approached a small group of you boys, you girls stood behind though you’d danced too – a feat in itself – and the woman said, “You, your performance, you’ve changed my life.”
I watched you take that on, grow several inches and find a new place in the world, still standing exactly where you were.
A little explanation:
The group performed an incredible 15 minute set of gumboots dancing, which they’d choreographed themselves, at an evening celebrating youth, as part of the 1999 Parliament of World Religions in Cape Town. The photos are from a rehearsal – sorry they’re so poor, my camera was giving out by then…
Why that memory? I’ve seen/experienced a lot of great ‘art’ in many forms since then, some of it perhaps objectively more accomplished and impressive but this performance remains one of the bravest I’ve ever seen. Why? Because in that moment they really took their place in the world, and people noticed. Good art moves; the creator and the audience both, and good art changes the world by changing one heart, one soul, at a time, just like that lady from the audience said. And it stays with you…just like this memory has, so much so that it still genuinely gives me goosebumps. even after 18 years…
If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here: