Local ballet dancers return from overseas scholarship to PE stage

2017-07-26 06:00
< From left are Skye Phillips, Kate Weakley and Anneke Claassen in the beautiful costumes which they will wear when they perform in the classical Friendly City Youth Ballet production of Thumbelina.Photo:Thandi Setokoe

< From left are Skye Phillips, Kate Weakley and Anneke Claassen in the beautiful costumes which they will wear when they perform in the classical Friendly City Youth Ballet production of Thumbelina.Photo:Thandi Setokoe

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THREE Port Elizabeth ballet dancers, who recently underwent intensive training in New York, will be in the cast of the classical Friendly City Youth Ballet production of Thumbelina to be staged at the PE Opera House from July 27 to July 29.

The 17-year-old aspiring ballerinas, Anneke Claassen, Skye Phillips and Kate Weakley, who are no strangers to the Youth Ballet and the Opera House have just returned from their once-in-a-lifetime experience at the American Academy of Ballet (AAB) Summer School of Excellence at Purchase College at the State University of New York.

They auditioned against talented young dancers from the United States of America and 15 other countries to earn their places at the intensive three-week AAB Summer School.

Weakley said she is overjoyed to have been part of the group selected for the by-invitation-only summer school.

“It was an amazing experience and it really pushed me to work harder. I’m glad that I got to share the experience with my two best friends.”

The AAB is considered to be one of the world’s leading dance and training grounds and Phillips couldn’t agree more, “I have learnt so much. Our three-week course included dancing six days a week under the guidance of teachers who are also coaches to some of the dance world’s top performers.”

Claassen who started ballet dancing at the age of two echoed Phillips, adding that she is excited for what awaits them at the Youth Ballet.

“It is going to be a great platform for us to showcase our hard work and all that we have learnt abroad.”

The classical ballet production is an enchanting Hans Christian Anderson fairytale of how once upon a time there lived a woman who had no children and longed for a little girl.

Upon visiting a good witch she is given an acorn to plant in a flowerpot. The acorn soon grows into a beautiful flower and in that flower is a tiny maiden, whom the woman names Thumbelina.

The three ballet dancers are pupils of the Walmer School of Dance run by Royal Academy of Dance registered teacher Troy Coffey, who could not be more proud of them.

“Next year will be their final year with me. It saddens me to know that I will have to let them go. They will be doing matric so they will not be able to be as dedicated as they have been this year,” Coffey explained.

The girls will be part of the 60 Port Elizabeth dancers in the roles of ice fairies, flowers, lovebirds and jitterbugs alongside a complement of six Cape Town City Ballet guest artists in various roles.

Meghan Henegan, a former Port Elizabeth trained ballerina, now a soloist with Cape Town City Ballet will take the lead role of Thumbelina.

The production will be performed at 7pm on July 27 and 28, and at 3 and 6:30pm on July 29.

Tickets can be purchased at Computicket for R100.

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