On Saturday evening I went to the Artscape theatre with my mom and a good friend, we were there to watch the gala performance of the Cape Town International Ballet Competition. After stopping for a quick bite to eat and glass of wine at the News Café onsite restaurant, which was very tasty but quite pricey we settled into our seats in the back row of the theatre. Just a quick note if you’re planning on eating at the restaurant before a show it is advisable to book beforehand and not do as we did and just rock up, they might find it very difficult to find you a table and you might need to sit outside on a chilly evening.
This year’s competition was the second time it had taken place and since it happens only every two years we can look forward to the next one in 2012 (and we will keep you up to date with the information). This exciting competition had competitors from South Korea, Cuba, USA, Canada, Italy, England, Australia and South Africa. It was great to see all the flags represented on stage when the curtains opened – this can be thought of as the World Cup of ballet.
The competition took place over four days culminating in the best of the best on Saturday night. With classical and contemporary as well as junior and senior sections we were in for a treat. Not only would Saturday’s performance showcase some outstanding dancers, but we would also be indulged with a number of performances from some of South Africa’s best dance companies.
The evening kicked off with an excerpt from Veronica Paeper’s ballet Carmen danced by the Cape Town City Ballet with Laura Bosenberg taking the lead. This was a vibrant passionate performance and I look forward to the production from 14 October to 7 November 2010 at Artscape.
The first competitor on stage was 17 year old Victor Manuel Estevez Acosta from Cuba and his non-competing partner. They performed three excerpts from Don Quixote, a ballet I haven’t seen in more than 15 years, and what a performance it was. Acosta was electric on stage and I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat eagerly waiting for more beautiful dancing.
Throughout the first half we saw female dancers from South Korea dancing an excerpt from Paquita a ballet I am not familiar with, but their sparkling tutus made we want to get up and jump straight into one and join these beautifully elegant and controlled dancers on stage. I couldn’t believe how dancers as young as 16 could be that fantastic – I can only imagine the hours of intense training they put in to be that good.
We were wowed by the dance of Siegfried from Swan Lake by both Nathan Chaney of USA and our very own Andile Ndlovu who brought the house down. Senior dancer Aaron Smyth from Australia partnered Alys Shee from Canada in the Don Quixote excerpt and they were by far my favourite couple.
Other performances from guest artists included Kitty from Mzanzi Productions performing a solo to the Beatles number “Too Much Love Will Kill You” and this was fantastic. The Table Duet from Bovim Ballet’s Tango Nights as well as 2009 winner Camille Bracher performing a solo. Jazzart and an excerpt from their production iHaw’ Elisha the full production of this is running from 3-12 September at Artscape and I advise you to buy tickets soon. My favourite of the guest artists however, even though everyone was outstanding, was the Cape Dance Company and their presentation of extracts from Sur les Ailes de Sue. All I can say is WOW, what a performance, what emotion, control, enthusiasm and talent in these six dancers. I will most definitely be keeping my eye out on their upcoming works.
The second half was the contemporary part of the competition and we saw contemporary numbers by Nathan Chaney (USA), Andile Ndlovu (RSA), Hyn-Seon Park of South Korea with and enchanting piece entitled Sleepwalking, Thoriso Magangwa (the oldest competitor by seven years and he was only 27) who performed a beautiful number entitled Soliloquy. We also saw a duet by Costa and his partner which started with a hitch as their music stopped playing after a few bars in, they handled it well and came back with confidence.
All in all a fantastic showcase of dance, with unbelievable talents being found, they were after all judged by an incredibly talented panel of international judges. The Classical Junior winners were third place Jeon Yeo Jin of South Korea, second place Alys Shee of Canada and first place going to Nathan Chaney of USA. The Classical Senior winners were third place Aaron Smyth of Australia, Hyo-Seon Park of South Korea and Oscar A. Valdes Carmenates of Cuba. Junior Contemporary was won by Nathan Chaney – who pumped his fists into the air with exuberance while the Senior Contemporary was won by Thoriso Magongwa. A special award was presented to Andile Ndlovu for his artistry, versatility and talent in both contemporary and classical disciplines.
Before the prizes were awarded all of the dancers who took part in the competition came out to give the audience a spectacular finale choreographed by Lindy Raizenberg to the Waka Waka song. This was a vibey, energetic number which showed the new friendships that had been made, the fantastic talent and just what fun this competition had been.
I will definitely be in the audience in two years time when the Cape Town International Ballet Competition comes to town… will you?
Gwen Barry & Andile Ndlovu in Jean-Paul Comelin’s “Dance Symphony-Second Movement” – photo from The South African Ballet Theatre.