Ballet awards at Hilton College

2011-12-14 00:00

A CLEARLY overwhelmed Conrad Nusser was the recipient of the coveted Cyril Beaumont Bursary Award during the Cecchetti Summer School at Hilton College last week.

“I’m elated,” the tall Johannesburg-based ballet dancer said, “I had no idea I stood a chance. Before we started the finals, someone said to me, ‘Relax and the stage business will come’, so that’s what I tried to do, and I think it worked.”

Nusser, who was one of six finalists for the R50 000 prize, has been dancing since the age of seven and was recently accepted into the Cape Town City Ballet’s graduate course. He plans to use the money to help pay for his studies and says he would love to go overseas to a ballet school.

“I want to learn as much as I can, and to stay overseas for as long as I can, then perhaps return home and join a company here,” Nusser said. “All I want to do is dance. If I can stay in dance then I’ll be as happy as Larry.”

The other finalists for the bursary were Durban­ dancer Zoë Engler, Monique Fivaz and Roxanne Smith from Johannesburg, Gertina Grobler and Keisha Solomon from Cape Town, and Revil Yon from Port Elizabeth.

All six finalists were put through a dance class, conducted by judge Edmund Stripe, before dancing set solo routines — Sleeping Beauty’s Prologue — The Violent Fairy variation, in the case of the women and Giselle, Peasant Pas De Deux solo­ No 1, in the case of the men.

Each dancer then performed a solo routine of his or her own choice. These included Esmeralda­’s solo from La Esmeralda­, performed by Grobler­, Kitri’s Wedding variation from Don Quixote, performed by Fivaz, and Nusser’s Black Swan variation from Swan Lake.

During summer school the dancers­ were tutored by Stripe, a choreographer and classical ballet tutor with the New Zealand School of Dance, Janet Tait, a classical ballet tutor, also based at the New Zealand School of Dance, Nicolette Loxton a guest teacher for Cape Town City Ballet and principal of her own ballet studio, Gail Myburgh, national chairperson of the Council of Management of the Cecchetti Society of SA, Yvonne Barker (international examiner), José Pretorius, Joy Cooper and Jennifer­ Louw.

The dancers were given five classes a day, during which they learnt repertoire from different ballets, did character and exam classes. And at the end of the school, the dancers took part in a gala performance on Saturday night.

Fourteen-year-old Caroline Tyrrell from Durban told The Witness it was a privilege for all the dancers to be taking part in the summer­ school. Fourteen-year-old Paloma Gaywood from Johannesburg agreed: “It’s so amazing to be working with all these different people who all have such high standards.”


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