Most young people in the Johannesburg Youth Ballet can’t imagine how daring and different it was to have a non-racial ballet company in 1976. Audrey King, however, set one up and then took it on an international tour.
In 2016, the legacy lives on. Non-racial ballet companies are now the norm and the JYB continues the traditions of working hard to prepare for public performances.
Over the weekend of 14-16 October 2016, the company celebrated this anniversary with three short ballets, the Garland Dance from Sleeping Beauty coached by Kate Retief, Look Up (a contemporary ballet piece about mobile phones) choreographed by Shanell Winlock-Pailman and Nicho Aphane to music by Hans Zimmer, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream choreographed by Mark Hawkins. Kate Retief and Mark Hawkins are both alumni of the JYB.
The young people, together with the professional team who trained and supported them with the production, did a superb job. Members of the Joburg Ballet were guest artists for this fabulous season. The principals on opening night were Ruan Galdino (Oberon) from Joburg Ballet, Alice Roux (Titania) from Joburg Ballet, FaneloNdweni (Puck), Corinne Lalouette (Hermia), Mahlatse Sachane (Lysander) from Joburg Ballet, Robyn Jordaan (Helena) and Armand van der Merwe (Demetrius).
The list of creative credits is long and includes rehearsal assistants, pianists, sets, lighting, costumes,projections, an audio-visual presentation, actors, and stage managers. Every one of them is important. Also important is each and every dancer in the JYB. I am not mentioning any of these people at this time. The programme will hopefully be preserved for future generations. The reason that I am not mentioning these people is because over a period of forty years it is the Johannesburg Youth Ballet which has been the connecting life force. The JYB continues regardless of the people who started it, worked in it, danced in it. It continues into the present and the future on the same basis. We salute EVERYONE who made it what it is today, past and present.
I take this opportunity to wish Jean Beckley and her team of many, many people well for the future of this exciting company. May it have many more significant anniversaries.