Dancing with the stars

2013-06-23 14:00

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The pirouetting skills of two cousins from a dusty Klein Karoo town have propelled them to ballet summer school in the US capital, Washington DC.

Mthuthuzeli and Aviwe November grew up in the Xhosa-speaking Zolani township near Montagu in Western Cape, where their mothers, sisters Nomasinya and Sindiswa, are seasonal workers at a fruit canning factory.

Both their fathers left home years ago.

The boys were plucked from the small town by talent scout Fiona Sargeant of the rural development organisation, Dance For All, and were offered a scholarship with the Cape Academy of Performing Arts in 2011.

Yesterday, they boarded a Washington-bound flight. For five weeks, they will slip into ballet shoes alongside youngsters from across the globe.

While in the US, the pair may just bump into Joburg ballet star Andile Ndlovu, who is in his fourth season at The Washington School of Ballet.

Mthuthuzeli (19) and Aviwe (20) glowed with excitement this week. “I don’t think my mom really understands what we’re doing and where we’re going. She asked: ‘Training? Training for what?’” smiled Aviwe.

City Press met them inside the lilac-walled office of Debbie Turner, the principal of the Cape Academy of Performing Arts, where a quote from Madiba adorned a wall: “It is music and dancing that makes me at peace with the world and at peace with myself.”

The November cousins were initially suspicious of the “weird moves” but today consider ballet a way of life.

“There is a perception among some South Africans that ballet is Eurocentric, not African. But it’s not so,” said Turner.

Mthuthuzeli and Aviwe’s trip is sponsored by a group of local patrons, including former cultural specialist at the US Consulate General in Cape Town, Frank Sassman; and Monica Joyi, the former programme director of the SA-USA Fulbright Commission.

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