There is great excitement in Cape Town on the eve of the start of the 8th South African International Ballet Competition. The event will be hosted at the Artscape Theatre in Cape Town but will also be streamed live to accommodate the 18 international judges and 180 contestants from around the world.
The international ballet competition at the Artscape Theatre signals a new beginning and hope for this majestic dance form, as the arts have suffered immensely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Exquisite flowers started blooming from the hard concrete and tar in the CBD of Cape Town when the participants showcased their talents. Dancers in bouncing tutus posed for photos as part of a build-up to the much-anticipated competition.
Young and professional dancers bent, stretched, and performed gravity-defying jumps for a photoshoot.
For junior dancers like Luca Oks of the Eon group in Athlone, it is the first time she will go through her paces on such a major platform. She says she is excited to be taking part in the event.
“I’m very excited and nervous because it’s my first time dancing in the international ballet and I’m just excited to share a stage with such talented dancers.”
A contest of this nature not only rewards those with great skill and talent but also gives newcomers an opportunity to learn from their peers and hone their craft. Four groupings will compete, including a new novice category for dancers between 6 to 8 years from Africa only.
Ballet is centuries old but suffers greatly from a lack of funding and support. The art form is no longer viewed as Eurocentric and it’s hoped that more young talent can be developed, especially in Africa.
“It gets performed in China, in Korea, South America, in the whole of Europe, North America and then in particular in Africa and that is the message that we want people to understand. Fund it, understand the value of it, understand what it means to your child to be on a stage, to be validated, and understand that the same person who gave you the talent for maths and science is the same person who gave you the talent for dancing and therefore all talent should be equally valued and understood,” says founder of the South African International Ballet Competition, Dirk Badenhorst.
Classes with the best teachers
Participants will have the opportunity to take classes with some of the best teachers in the industry on the Grand Opera stage of the theatre. A competitor from the Jozi Youth Dance Company, Navin Jacobs, says it is a privilege to compete in the competition.
“This competition is very much like an eye-opener to the dance industry, I get a lot of input in and I take in a lot from like the classes before the competition and it’s just really a privilege to be here as I get to meet multiple industry members, my peers that are in the industry and it’s just breathtaking to be here.”
The judges include local stars like Mzansi Ballet’s Xola Willie, who says while the technique is crucial; it’s the performance on stage that will matter. Willie says it is important to encourage young dancers.
“First of all, they know there’s a next year, which is always a driving force, to know that if I stumble now I’ll make sure that next year I’ll miss those stumbling blocks, so there is that motive behind that. Even if you get silver, you know that next year I will make sure I go for gold, it’s your passion that you’re living for.”
The competition ends this weekend and the Gala event takes place on Saturday with tickets available for the theatre performance and the simultaneous online event.