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Here Is How Rolex Goes Big On Its Support For The Arts

How about throwing an art-filled party in South Africa to celebrate the most promising names in music, dance, architecture and literature, and curated by the artistic director of Lollapalooza Berlin no less?

What: The Rolex Arts Weekend, a two-day fiesta to fete the Rolex Mentor And Protege Arts Initiative from its 2018-2019 edition. Think a mini Coachella, Ted Talk and an art biennale rolled into one. The event is curated by Fruzsina Szep who is the artistic director of Lollapalooza Berlin music festival (see what we told you about the festival energy?).

First launched in 2002, the art initiative is the watch maison’s way to foster and perpetuate the different artistic disciplines around the world spanning the world of dance, literature, and music. The event will feature works/exhibitions/performances/readings from four proteges, as well as in-depth forums and discussions about the role of culture in society and the interdisciplinary nature of art today.

A background: Mentors who are veterans and leaders form their respective fields spend two years to bond and engage with their young proteges who are nominated by a panel of experts. The end result from this mentorship varies – it could be a new book or snagging an appointment as the artistic director of major theatre companies. Over 1,100 artists from 105 countries have been nominated since the program began close to two decades ago.

When: This weekend, over two days on Feb 8 and Feb 9.

Where: The Baxter Theatre Centre in Cape Town, South Africa, with 200 renowned artists and arts leaders expected to attend.

Who: The four proteges – dancer Khoudia Toure, architect Mariam Kamara, the novelist Colin Barrett, and drummer Marcus Gilmore – will be the stars of the event.


Architect Mariam Kamara, the principal of design firm Atelier Masomi is well-known for her sustainable and context-based work, like the mosque in the village of Dandaji in her home country of Niger which was recently built using locally fabricated compressed earth bricks. She teams up with her mentor, the Ghanaian-born British architect Sir David Adjaye who was behind the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture to present their ideas for a new cultural centre in Niger capital Niamey.
Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite is often regarded as one of the finest names in the ballet scene for what The New York Times described as “with a movement style that combines a slippery, buckling fluidity with an unusually emotional theatricality”. She collaborates with her protege, Senagalese urban street dancer/choreographer Khoudia Toure who runs the hip-hop-based dance company Compagnie La Mer Noire. Toure will premiere a number called When the Night Comes which fuses hip-hop with other dance disciplines.
Irish writer, playwright, essayist and critic Colm Toibin who penned acclaimed novels like Brooklyn (2009) and The Testament of Mary (2012) play mentor to aspiring novelist and fellow countryman Colin Barrett for his first completed book The English Brothers. An extract from the book – which addresses the two writers’ fascination with questions of belonging and existentialism – will be adapted for a public reading by local actors.
Marcus Gilmore, the grandson of legendary jazz drummer Roy Haynes, is the prodigious 34-year-old New York drummer who has collaborated with musical heavyweights like Chick Corea, Wynton Marsalis and Steve Coleman. Under the tutelage of tabla master and chief architect of the contemporary world music movement Zakir Hussain, Gilmore will premiere of his composition, pulse, commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra.