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Jerry's Joburg
What a wonderful experience - to spend a morning watching professional ballet dancers go through their regular routines, and then practice scenes from classical ballets. It was both engrossing and rewarding. This was an open day at the Ballet Theatre studios in Braamfontein.

The presentations took place in two studios, each with a different programme. It was fascinating to watch the various movements, to compare the dancers and to get a sense of the effort involved and the standard required. What seems so fluid and effortless on the stage can leave them perspiring and breathless as they practice. The dances, with their steps and movements, were explained to us as the dancers were helped to work out, and then work with, the moves that would be the most effective. Who would have thought that such a significant message could be conveyed by two hands that, trembling, almost touched!

Romeo and Juliet opens at the Joburg Theatre on Friday 27 May. The studio is focussing very intentionally on preparing itself for this well-known ballet and in building up the skill and stamina demanded by some of the choreography. The exciting Mexican Senior Soloist Humberto Montero and Principal dancer Burnise Silvius worked on the physically demanding Balcony pas de deaux, whilst coached by both Anya Carstens and Iain MacDonald – who frequently paused to explain what was happening and the challenges involved. This was followed by dances from The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake and the Ballroom scene from Romeo and Juliet. We became immersed in it all and left with a deeper understanding and appreciation of this great art.

The South African Ballet Theatre was established in 2001 after the closure of The State Ballet Theatre in 2000. It is the country’s largest professional ballet company and already boasts a proud record of achievement. By international standards it is still a small company and so the dancers often have to be familiar with, and able to undertake, a number of roles within the same production. Five new overseas dancers are due to join the company in the near future.

Apart from working to present between two and four major professional productions every year the company also undertakes local tours - and have just returned from a very successful trip to Bloemfontein. In addition they run a Development Programme in Alexandra, Melville, Soweto and Katlehong, an extra-curricular Ballet Academy for high school students and a Graduate (apprenticeship) Programme. A highlight for young dancers is the week long Autumn School – this year repeated twice – which runs between 28 March and 16 April. What an unforgettable experience, to be able to dance with, and learn from, the stars. Numbers are limited so book early!

Funding is always a challenge and this is where ‘The Friends’ come in, allowing people to lend their financial support to the company in a number of ways. Think about it – we need them to prosper and develop. Visit the attractive ballet website for more details and for information about the dancers and events.

Finally, for those who would like to experience one of these rewarding open days the next ones will be as follows – early booking is essential:
  • 14 May: 10h00 – 13h00 Romeo and Juliet Rehearsals (opening 27 May)
  • 10 Sept: 10h00 – 13h00 The Sleeping Beauty Rehearsals (opening 30 Sept)
Please note that bookings for the Joburg Theatre are now handled by them and no longer by Computicket.

You are capable of far more beauty than you think – be inspired to try

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