Empty Promises: The anti-trafficking dance production taking Bloemfontein by storm

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The Arts have a long history of conveying human emotion and tragedies through dance, music and various other art forms. Any and all artistic performances carry with them the ability to entertain and enlighten communities on the importance of creating a humane world for all to live in. A task Empty Promises has excelled in.

The dance production which was created and is directed by Marijda Kamper and Walter Strydom (of the University of the Free-State’s Drama Department), has managed to captivate audiences and spark up conversation on the dangers of Human Trafficking. The production not only tackles Human Trafficking, but also delves into issues of female objectification which can be paralleled with Trafficking in Persons.

Click here for the enlarged picture.

Empty promises
Three female dancers (currently enrolled as drama students at the University of the Free-State) are used to expose the cycle of the sex trade industry in a 20 to 30 minute show. One of the key factors leading to the success of Empty Promises, can be found within the ease of setting up such a production. A dance-mat is rolled out for the dancers to perform on, and a music mix (from a portable and informally set-up sound system) accompanies the performance.

The quick and simple set-up allows for performances to take place in varying public spaces such as malls and public squares, to recreational areas at universities and schools.

Ending social injustices
The charismatic directing duo, Marijda and Walter, are an example for many to follow. Their use of their professional backgrounds together with their passion for ending social injustices can certainly be seen as noteworthy.

The duo is motivated by the urgency or need to voice and bring attention to the silent epidemic that is Human Trafficking. They stand firm in their belief that awareness aids in prevention, and that prevention is better than cure. For this reason, they have ensured that every audience member receive a flyer containing information regarding Human Trafficking. This flyer also contains important emergency contact details to assist victims or community members in times of need.

Empty Promises being performed during the Arts and Social Justice Week at the University of the Free State Campus — Thakaneng Bridge, August 14 2015.

The production has enlightened audience members from Bloemfontein (Free-State Province) and Grahamstown (Eastern Cape Province), and has extended their influence to Schools within Bloemfontein such as St Michael’s School for Girls and Fichardtpark, as well as their own university, the University of the Free-State.

Educative value
Having been an audience member for many of the performances, I can attest to the educative value the production holds.

‘Good news stories’ such as this urge us to take action. We need to work, whether it’s raising awareness against Human Trafficking or participating in any other form of social activism, work must be put in to stop and kill the sex trade market.

Thank you to the University of the Free-State’s Drama Department for their efforts towards ending this epidemic. Your contributions have greatly impacted the Bloemfontein community, and have surely saved lives.

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