When young dancers from around the world gather in South Africa to perform there is always a sense of occasion.
The International Ballet Gala in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Ballet in the Bush … well, in the bush (Limpopo) recently thrilled ballet audiences.
These young dancers also conducted workshops in four provinces and the Ballet in the Bush is all about rhino conservation and awareness.
I attended the performance at the Mosaiek Teatro, Fairland, the first time I have been at this venue. It will probably never become a favourite venue because it is almost a semi-circle which has some dreadful sightlines from the sides and it lacks intimacy. It is more an auditorium than a theatre. The fact that the houselights were left on for most of the first half of the programme also indicates that this venue is not usually used as a conventional theatre. The hospitality for the venue is in another building and all round it lacks the correct ambience for theatre.
The dancing was the usual mix of classical and neo-classical and contemporary ballet.
Adele Blank choreographed a new work to a synopsis by Dirk Badenhorst entitled Bengingazi, but the synopsis did not appear anywhere in the programme (unless I missed it with my now reduced vision). The work itself, however, was sufficiently self-explanatory for us to see the competition between hip hop dancers and ballet dancers. I was a little disappointed that the hip hop wasn’t more flashy and street like because I have seen some really beautiful dancing from hip hop artists. Over all it was an interesting work and I would like to see it again in the future. This was performed by Angela Malan, Andile Ndlovu, Javier Monier and Thami Njoko.
Another contemporary piece which I loved was Affray, performed by Miguel Kenneth Franco=Green and Navin Jacobs, both very young dancers. Judging by the enthusiastic applause they received, I wasn’t the only one who liked the work.
Anujin Otgontugs, Javier Monier and Andile Ndlovu opened the Gala with the Le Corsaire Pas de Trois, but they were possibly nervous, because when Otgontugs and Monier performed the Flames of Paris Pas de Deux, they were much more relaxed and the dancing was considerably better than in the first piece.
Paige McElligott performed the technically very difficult Allegro Vivace, and Michaela Fairon the Harlequinade. Other soloists were Nehanda Peguillan in the La Bayaydere Gamzatti Variation, and Michaela Louw in La Fille mal Gardee.
Maria Rudenko and Artemiy Pyzhov from Russia performed two numbers, Melody and the Le Corsaire Pad d’esclave. Both are exquisite dancers. Lissi Baez and Jonhal Fernandez from Cuba were marvellous in the Don Quixote Pas de Deux.
Of course, for me the highlight of the evening was Angela Malan and Dzianis Klimuk in Act II of Swan Lake, together with a Corps de Ballet from various local schools. The Corps de Ballet was so well rehearsed and disciplined, and their teachers can be really proud of how well they did. Angela Malan who, at one stage won the Arts and Culture Award for the best dancer (across all genres) in South Africa, showed us exactly why such an award was justified. She really is a lovely dancer. What a privilege to have been able to see her perform again.
This really was a lovely evening. Well done to Dirk Badenhorst and his team.