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Cinderella comes to Artscape this Christmas

The Cape Town City Ballet will present Veronica Paeper’s popular full length Cinderella from 17 December – 24 December 2010 at the Artscape Opera House. This will be the traditional production, first choreographed in 1975 with music by Sergei Prokoviev and costumes and decor by Peter Cazalet. The Cape Philharmonic Orchestra will accompany the Cape Town City Ballet at selected performances. Tickets are between R90 – R175 and are available at Computicket or Dial-a-seat: 021-4217695.

The ballet tells the classic fairytale story of the young Cinderella, and her two ugly stepsisters, Violet and Daffodil and their search for the Prince at the ball. The romantic highpoint comes with the pas de deux in the second act between the now glittering Cinderella and the handsome prince.

The role of Cinderella will be danced alternately by Laura Bosenberg, Megan Swart and Celeste George and the Prince by Thomas Thorne, Xola Putye and Alex Vivian-Riding. The ballet is full of humour and fairytale escapism. The Cape Town City Ballet’s male dancers take on the roles of the stepsisters, providing this production with some delightfully funny moments. Paeper’s award-winning Cinderella continues to entertain and please audiences of all ages.

A special performance for children will take place at 11h00 on 24 December, Christmas Eve. Children are invited to come dressed as their favourite fairytale character. There will be a fairy parade after the show, where the children are invited to meet Cinderella and Santa Clause.

Win tickets to see Annie at the Artscape!

Five lucky readers will win double tickets to see Annie at the Artscape Opera House in Cape Town.

To enter, all you have to do is answer this simple question: In which year did the original Broadway production of Annie open at the Alvin Theatre, Manhattan?

Email your name, contact details and answer to info@capetowncreatives.co.za:

Competition closes on  8 November, 10h00.

Terms and Conditions:

You (and partner) must be available to attend a show in Cape Town between the 13 November and 5 December 2010.

This competition is not open to cast and company of Annie.

Tickets are not transferrable and cannot be redeemed for cash.

Prizes courtesy of G & S.

Jazzart positively powerful

Fiona Gordon: Jazzart Dance Theatre presents a celebration of dance and humanity, with the annual bursary fundraiser.

There is something about fire that is mesmerising. And about a crowd that draws attention. So it’s no surprise that the dancing with and in and around a square of flames on the steps outside the Artscape Theatre Complex draws an audience. Fire represents warmth, ritual, survival. And it is thus an appropriate precursor to a show which pays homage to the roots and history of the company, but also marks the advent of a new season of artistic directorship, under Jackie Manyaapelo.

Once the multi-facetted crowd had made its way through the bottleneck of doorways into the theatre area, the show that followed gives credence to the partnerships that have formed part of the development of the illustrious history of this company. Jazzart serves not only to educate new generations of theatre makers, but also to equip them for life through skills development and life skills training, through their ‘Jazzart Young Adult Training and Job Creation’ and ‘Adopt-a-Dancer’ programmes. Members of the trainee group are honoured for their contributions this year – not just in the conventional areas of artistic and/or academic excellence, but also for ‘personal triumph in the face of adversity’, which speaks to the philosophy of the company, and is further embodied in the positivity of the performance.

The programme opens with ‘Ukushaya’ – an old Jazzart favourite which draws on the rhythms of voice, clapping and percussion, and incorporates dancers from the Nyanga Arts Development Centre. The showcase of their historical and present partners continues with input on the silks from members of the Zip Zap Circus School, CYDC 34/18 and the Tercia Kindo Arts Project.

Ina Wichterich draws together dancers from the Vadhini Indian Arts Academy and Jikeleza Dance Project, and influences from their respective dance idioms, in a piece exploring ‘Divinity’. Her understanding of organic movement and rhythm is well-grasped and -articulated by the dancers, who offer an earnest performance in a piece which, despite some interesting movement choices, seems to manifest an almost innate understanding of their expression.

Vadhini Indian Arts Academy appears to be working in line with the philosophies of La Rosa Spanish Dance Theatre. With reverence for the classical forms and traditions, whilst exploring their relevance in the modern context, they are increasing accessibility of the form(s) through exposure to a wider audience – both within the community who engages with it directly, and in performance – and the result is a significant contribution to the emerging dance landscape.

Jay Pather’s Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre hails from Durban, and presents a piece called ‘Human Ladder’. Despite the relatively few performers – it begins with a solo, with the cast growing progressively to six dancers – there seemed to be an overload of visual cues, and my appreciation of the piece certainly suffered as a result.

Jazzart’s mentorship programme, which runs within the Western Cape Education Department’s Arts Focus Schools is represented with the showcase of a piece danced by learners from the dance department of Wynberg Senior Secondary School, who have clearly benefitted from the involvement of the Jazzart Artists-in-Residence in their training programme. Another youngster given a platform on this stage is ‘MC’ for the evening, ten-year old Amkele Mandla Nyamza, who does a sterling job, presenting with comedy and confidence, and promising to be no stranger to the boards in years to come.

The double volume stage sets this journey on a road – a literal representation of their mandate as a company, and as individuals, moving forward towards a common purpose. It strikes a lovely metaphor, with the stage providing the platform for representation of this journey. I see evidence of their progress in the quality of performance from some of the trainees. Gumboots are donned for a piece which shows the development of their use as a theatrical tool – as opposed to more of the ‘same-old, same-old’, and the trainees conclude the evening with a collaborative ‘Iqiniso’ , where more than twenty dancers fill the stage and move in unison, with two girls winding themselves up and down suspended silks. With the absence of tabs and associated theatrical pretence in this production, the humanity of these dancers comes to the fore, and is an immensely powerful and beautiful thing.

Danscape 2010 played at the Artscape Theatre 22-25 July 2010.

The Jazzart company presents their forthcoming season, iHaw’ Elisha, at Artscape 3-12 September 2010.

Fiona Gordon

CTIBC concludes with stunning performances

Fiona Gordon: The week-long feast of dance that was the Cape Town International Ballet Competition ended on Saturday with a gala event befitting the occasion.

The fifth and final evening of the competition saw performances by five competitors from each age category, and the six finalists of the contemporary section, interspersed with guest performances by Camille Bracher – the 2008 Junior Contemporary Winner, and a number of local dance companies.

In his pre-announcement-of-the-winners speech, elected head of the judging panel, South African dance expert Dr Eduard Greyling spoke of the ephemeral nature of performance. With competitors pitted this closely against one another, the influence of tiny details can make an enormous difference in the end, and it was clear that the standard of individual’s performances differed from night to night, according to the choice of repertoire, or level of control of their nerves. With the scores discarded after the initial elimination rounds, and the dancers therefore competing from the neutrality of a ‘clean slate’ each succeeding night, each subsequent performance carried increasing importance as the competition progressed.

Some dancers whose performances had been solid, but not necessarily spectacular, suddenly showed their mettle in the finals, where others made their best impression on the first night. It was interesting to note and compare the different national trends- in training, style and costume preference. The finals night saw a reference to the first classical round, with nerves triggering untidiness that would normally not feature, but the heightened sense of occasion of the gala was felt by competitors and spectators alike, and produced an utterly magnificent series of performances – including the unfumbled completion of hitherto-elusive sets of fouetté turns. 16 year old Canadian Alys Shee not only interspersed the traditional 32 with multiple individual turns, but managed flicks of her Kitri-fan in various arm-positions, at the same time!

Judging complete, the contestants returned to the stage in a high-spirited Waka Waka finalé, choreographed by Lindy Raizenberg. A pleasure to see the world’s top young talent enjoying the opportunity to perform, together, without the pressure of having to ‘perform’, in a fitting salute to their talent, and experiences of the week.

The gala was a high profile affair, with Western Cape Premier Helen Zille taking to the stage for the awards ceremony, with the judging panel, consisting of dance luminaries Eduard Greyling (SA), Mario Galizzi (Argentina), Hae Shik Kim (Republic of Korea), Ismael Albelo (Cuba), Septime Webre (USA), Xin Lili (China), Christopher Kindo (SA) and Lisa Pavane (Australia).

Based on their choices, sharing the R375 000 in prize money (donated primarily by the Michel Tesson and Chiappini Trusts) are the following winners:

Senior Classical
Gold: Oscar A. Valdez Carmenates (19 yrs, Cuba)
Silver: Hyo-Seon Park (20 yrs, Republic of Korea)
Bronze: Aaron Smyth (19 yrs, Australia)

Junior Classical:
Gold: Nathan Chaney (18 yrs, USA)
Silver: Alys Shee (16 yrs, Canada)
Bronze: Jeon Yeo Jin (16 yrs, Republic of Korea)

Senior: Thoriso Magongwa (27 yrs, RSA)
Junior: Nathan Chaney (18yrs, USA)

A Special Jury Award was awarded to South African Andile Ndlovu (22yrs) in recognition of his talent, artistry and versatility.

Fiona Gordon

Exciting line-up of competitors at this year’s Cape Town International Ballet Competition

With the deadline for entries having lapsed last week, Dirk Badenhorst, the CEO and Founder of the Cape Town International Ballet Competition (CTIBC) and the Director of Mzansi Productions, is delighted to announce the participation of outstanding competitors from South Africa, Singapore, China, Cuba, South Korea and the United Kingdom in the Cape Town International Ballet Competition (CTIBC), taking place at the Artscape Opera House directly after the Soccer World Cup, from 12th to 17th July, 2010.

The Mother City will once again host the CTIBC, now known as the country’s premier ballet competition. The inaugural competition took place in January 2008 and was called the South African International Ballet Competition. It was hailed as one of the most exciting dance events on the South African cultural calendar and its success motivated the City of Cape Town to step forward as the principal sponsor which led to its new name, the Cape Town International Ballet Competition (CTIBC).

High profile dance personalities from all over the world once again make up the panel of judges. Dance critic Eduard Greyling, formerly a principal dancer with CAPAB Ballet and the Het Nationale Ballet in Holland, and Christopher Kindo, also from CAPAB and a well-known choreographer, both hail from South Africa. International judges include Ismael Albelo, a dance critic and lecturer at the National Ballet School of Cuba; the President of the World Dance Alliance, Hae Shik Kim  from South Korea; Lisa Pavane, the Head of Student Training at the Australian  Ballet School; Mario Galizzi, a ballet teacher at the Higher Institute of Art  at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Septime Webre, the Artistic Director of The Washington Ballet, and Xin Lili, the Artistic Director of the Shanghai  Ballet in China.

Providing an international showcase opportunity for local and foreign dancers, the CTIBC, like ballet competitions at Varna in Bulgaria and the Prix de Lausanne in Switzerland, enables directors of various dance companies in SA and abroad to seek out new and exciting talent. The event empowers young dancers through competitive engagement and exposure to international dance trends and training techniques.  South African teachers and dancers from all communities also have the opportunity to attend master classes and workshops, an interaction that forms part of Mr. Badenhorst’s vision to bring various dance entities together to benefit collectively by having access to certain guests from the international ballet arena. His repeat visits to competitions such as the Youth America Grand Prix, and to ballet companies and dance schools in Europe and the USA has resulted in the formation of a network of invaluable contacts with some of the best organisations and institutions in the world.

The competition categories are divided into a Junior/Amateur Division (15-18  years of age) and a Senior/Professional Division (19- 28 years of age). The judging criteria for the two categories differ and each works on a point system per round. There are cash prizes in all divisions, with the winner in the senior category receiving R100, 000 and the winner in the junior section being awarded R80,000. The Michel Tesson Performing Arts Trust, Guernsey will be donating most of the prize money.

The second Cape Town International Ballet Competition will take place from the 12th to 17th July, 2010 at the Artscape Opera House in Cape Town, South Africa. Tickets are available for the elimination rounds taking place from Tuesday 13th to Thursday 15th July at 2pm at R40 per person. The Finals take place on Friday 16th July at 7:30pm and the grand Gala performance on Saturday 17th July at 7:30pm with tickets for both costing R65 to R350 at Computicket or via www.computicket.com. For more info please visit www.ctibc.com

Stomp will get you tapping


Fiona Gordon: The cast of Stomp uses anything and everything to create a spectacular of sound rhythms which will have your whole body tapping.

It begins with a rather unassuming man sweeping the stage. And as one realises that the soft-ksssh-sound of the bristles against the stage has a certain form, he is joined by another, and another, doing the same, but slightly off the original beat; their numbers and actions building into a crescendo of musical movement, and it is in those you-don’t-quite-realise-that-the-show-has-begun-until-it’s-a-few-minutes-in moments, that the magic takes hold.

Using matchboxes, sand, and plastic bags; bins, brooms, and dustpans; paint tins, and folding chairs and zippo lighters; and incredibly articulate bodies, rhythms are created and explored, using a variety of speeds and volumes and levels of intricacy. But always at a pace that maintains the captivated interest of the audience, often generating applause and laughter and squeals of pleasure. These ‘found instruments’ are beaten or shaken or opened and closed or scrunched or rubbed or thrown about, to make music from rhythm, from seemingly anything. And here, ‘anything’ even includes that kitchen sink!

The basis of the set is a stage-sized ‘drum kit’, not made just of drums (and even then, not the sort one might expect), but many other things that make a noise, too. Performers are harnessed to the giant scaffolding structure, and swing or jump from side to side in order to reach the various objects, and make their sounds. It really is a full-body exercise. But not only is this a showcase of rhythmical energy and talent – it’s also hysterically funny, and had me in uncharacteristic stitches of laughter at regular intervals throughout! As with the movement, lighting is expertly choreographed – with changes in colour and state and intensity and focus, and even the use of headlamps at one stage, vastly enhancing the already slick performance.

This multi-award winning show has been in production since 1991, and this cumulative experience is obvious in the show’s construction, and the expertise demonstrated both by the performers, and the production team.

Stomp plays at the Artscape Opera House until 25 April 2010. Tickets can be booked through Computicket.

Fiona Gordon

Grease is the word

Grease, the musical

Fiona Gordon: Capetonians have just a few more days to see that quintessential feel-good show before it heads to Jo’burg for its run at Montecasino.

Grease is the word in this slick, high energy show about the trials of being in love and in high school – and cars, of course. The story is age-old – this particular version set in the 1950s, and made popular by the film featuring John Travolta and Olivia Newton John – but the characters are easily identifiable from that cringe-ful period we are told are the best days of our lives.

Jonothan Roxmouth is Danny Zuko – the confused Jock who is in love with Sandy, but can’t be seen to be to maintain his position as the head of the ‘gang’.

Sandy (Bethany Dickson) – new to the school and the definition of innocence, must figure her way through the minefield that is new friends and prom dates and a reputation, and the mixed messages her summer-romance-she-never-thought-she-would-see-again, Danny, sends her.

Amongst an all South African cast of seasoned professionals, Genna Galloway makes a bold impression as the rebellious Rizzo. As other characters pluck up the courage to make their moves, and field their dramas, we are taken through the lives of these youngsters, through songs and dances well known across the generations of audience members, and it’s hard not to get caught up in the emotion of it all.

Although the confines of the stage are somewhat limiting, an enormous amount is achieved through the use of phenomenal sets and props. Fans of the movie may be somewhat surprised to find things a little different than they recall, but one of my favourite scenes is an ‘additional’ one involving some showers. It’s great, as always, to have a live band on stage – even if they are hidden for most of the performance, their presence is felt and certainly adds to the magic.

And there is a bunch of boys that dance on the tables, and on the cars, and in and out of the showers; turning and jumping wherever they can find time and space, it seems. And each aspect of their performance is spot on. Every time. It sends shivers down my spine…

Grease runs at Artscape until 11 April 2010 before opening at The Teatro Montecasino in Johannesburg on 17 April 2010. Tickets for this feel-good musical can be booked through Computicket.

Fiona Gordon