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Posted on: Monday, 19 April 2010

Help to save the Cape Town City Ballet

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Save CT City Ballet

Save CT City Ballet

Article and appeal by our Events Editor, Tania Stephenson: Waiting for my adult ballet class to start on Monday evening I watched four young girls for the last 20 minutes of their class. These young ladies can’t be older than 13 and I watch as they eagerly put on their Pointe shoes which are glistening in brand new pink satin. They tie up the ribbons with such care and eagerness I am immediately taken back to the day when I put on my first pair of pointes.

Ballet has always been a part of my life. I was a little girl of three or four years when I was first introduced to ballet – my sister had already started to dance and it was always exciting going to watch her class with my mom and I eagerly anticipated the day when I would put on my own leotard and tights to join a class …

The studio in Mowbray is imprinted in my mind, it was just behind the Starke Ayres Nursery in Mowbray and had a red concrete veranda leading to a heavy wooden door. We used to play ‘on-on’ and ‘red rover’ on that veranda while waiting for class to begin and after class if our parents were a bit late collecting us. These are such happy times for me and many friendships were forged. (That’s me in the photograph, waiting to do my ballet exam, age 6!).

That's me!I can remember the square room of the studio with one full wall of mirrors, the big, black metal bar where many hours of practise were spent, the piano which would both be a source of musical accompaniment as well as a goal of leg height for my grand battement’s at the bar. The old, floral couch where mom’s could sit and watch the class and my favourite part of all the beautiful sprung wooden floor. Pure perfection as a studio and some of my happiest times were spent in that space.

There was always a goal, be it an exam or concert or a personal one – triple pirouettes, it was a passion that has stuck with me for my entire life and I don’t think this is something that will change. I remember my ballet teacher taking me up to the UCT school of dance for a presentation to the students, in my youth I was very flexible and I remember showing these real ballerina’s how I could  manipulate my body with ease into the splits. It was a proud moment and a special one. It was my first taste of professional dancers.

I wanted to see more of these beautiful ladies and was able to when my mom took me to countless number of ballets at both the Baxter Theatre and Artscape (then Nico Malan). Watching CAPAB perform was always a magical experience. My favourite ballet was Copelia and I remember the beautiful costumes and lyrical music. I can’t even remember the number of ballets I have seen in my lifetime and I can’t even imagine the possibility of not being able to see a ballet performed by one of the talented dancers of the Cape Town City Ballet (CTCB).

However it is with a heavy heart that I write this article. It has been in the news this week that the Ccape Town City Ballet is facing closure due to the lack of funds. This will be a tragedy for our city if we lose this company that has such a long history.

The UCT Ballet Company was founded by Dulcie Howes in 1934 and the corps de ballet was made up of students of the UCT ballet school with the principle roles performed by staff members and professional dancers. The company grew with support from the Performing Arts Council and the direction of David Poole. CAPAB was hugely successful and enjoyed almost unlimited funding.

In 1994 government funding was no longer provided and CAPAB became a non profit organisation and then became known as the Cape Town City Ballet under the directorship of Elizabeth Triegaardt. Veronica Paeper was the artistic director until her retirement in 2005, I can remember watching many of her ballets.

The company is now made up of approximately 25 dancers and has the difficult task of raising their own funds. Without your help Cape Town may no longer have its own ballet company.

SA-Venues.com have donated R5000.00 on behalf of Tania Stephenson to the emergency fund for the Cape Town Ciy Ballet. We challenge other Travel Websites and Travel companies to make a donation … please make a donation, no matter how big or small, to keep the Cape Town City Ballet alive for the next generations of young ballerinas to aspire to.

The Cape Town City Ballet and I are appealing to you the public to keep this art alive in Cape Town. They are asking for donations to the emergency fund for the immediate survival of the CTCB. All donations will be greatly appreciated and used to keep the company going. There are many ways you can help. Even if you are an individual you can make a difference.

Firstly we need to support this art form, so make sure you know of the upcoming performances and book tickets to go and watch the shows (we will do our best to keep you informed of upcoming performances). These dancers work extremely hard to put on fantastic performances for you night after night and need your support. Encourage your friends and family to come along with you and why not spend a little extra to attend the gala performance. Poetry In Motion will be performed from 6-15 May 2010 at the Artscape Opera House and is a new work which encompasses poetry, dance, the spoken word, visuals and musical accompaniment – it will take you on a journey of life, love, loss and celebration.

Other options include sponsoring a dancer for a year, sponsor media, costumes, music and so much more. Your help is needed. Come on South Africa – if you are a fan of dance, arts, music and culture or you know of a little girl with the dream of becoming a ballerina one day you should do something to remedy this situation – together we can make a difference and keep the Cape Town City Ballet on the stage.

SA-Venues.com have donated R5000.00 on behalf of Tania Stephenson to the emergency fund for the Cape Town Ciy Ballet. We challenge other Travel Websites and Travel companies to make a donation … please make a donation, no matter how big or small to keep the Cape Town City Ballet alive for the next generations of young ballerinas to aspire to.

How to make a donation:
Download the document from the Cape Town City Ballet website with the details on how to to make a donation.

Tania Stephenson


Tania loves to cook and create magic in the kitchen for family and friends (or even just herself). Be it finding a new recipe or making a tried and tested dish from her recipe folder - the kitchen is her sanctuary. Find her hanging out with friends round the braai or curled up on the couch reading the latest crime drama. With a spring in her step and a song in her heart you’ll find her supporting local artists in theatre, music and dance – from a hip hop competition or the latest musical on stage at Artscape in Cape Town. Enjoying all things culture she likes to share her experiences and delights with those around her.

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What Others are Saying

8 comments about Help to save the Cape Town City Ballet
  1. April 19th, 2010 at 17:00
    Chris M says:

    Thank you so much for your support!

  2. April 19th, 2010 at 17:17
    Chris M says:

    Cape Stay has accepted the challenge and just donated R5,000.00 as well!

    Let’s hope that other portals jump on and support as well :)

  3. April 19th, 2010 at 17:17
    admin says:

    Awesome update – we’ve just heard that Cape stay have met our challenge and also donated R5000.00 to the Cape Town City Ballet! Such great news!

  4. April 20th, 2010 at 09:58
    angelique says:

    I agree, what would tourism be without Cape Town City ballet, save the ballet. it is an important, positive displine that keeps young people investing their time in something healthy and constructive

  5. April 20th, 2010 at 13:14
    arlene stephenson says:

    The ARTS are vital for all-round development – we need to nurture the creative side of our personalities. Dance is such a complete art form – its aural, visual, kinetic. Don’t let this valuable asset to Cape Town and our country die! So many jobs can be created by keeping Cape Town City Ballet alive. Not everyone is a performer, but there are many many jobs for people backstage, administratively and so on. Come on Capetonians – show us you care. Kudos to Cape stay and SA-Venues.com:)

  6. April 20th, 2010 at 15:17
    Dines says:

    I am very proud to say that our company – The Royal Portfolio have offered a prize for the CTCB raffle. It is worth R6 800.00. Long may the CTCB live!

  7. April 21st, 2010 at 01:07
    Candy says:

    Have bought tickets to Poetry in Motion. Am ashamed to admit we haven’t been to the Ballet in years – will rectify that now.

  8. April 21st, 2010 at 15:07
    david tennant says:

    My late Sister Anne Tennant was a student at CAPAB for many many years.She left school before junior certificate and joined CAPAB until she could not dance due to ankle problems. She finally left in the late 70’s after 15 years with CAPAB.

    I remember attending many ballets that she was in at the Baxter and Nico Malan. I suggest a corporate donation from companies like IBM be approached , as I know they support “the arts” around the world.