International ballet at its best

2011-07-21 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG-born dancer Robin van Wyk, the artistic director of the Cape Town City Ballet (CTCB), has returned home to share his knowledge and skills with dancers from across the province, and to help raise money for the Genée International Ballet Competition, hosted by the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD).

It’s been a busy few months for Van Wyk. He performed Romeo and Juliet with the South African Ballet Theatre in Johannesburg, starred in Cape Town City Ballet’s Swan Lake in Grahams­town, staged the company’s joint production of Sleeping Beauty with the Friendly City Ballet in Port Elizabeth, and is now in Pietermaritzburg for a week of RAD workshops.

The dancer, who grew up in Woodlands and attended Raisethorpe Primary and Haythorn Senior Secondary schools, began working with his 117 pupils on Monday, at Athlone Primary School. His aim is to prepare them for two performances at the Hilton College Theatre, at 12 pm and 3 pm on Sunday.

The older dancers are being taught routines from Coppélia, a sentimental comic ballet about an inventor, Doctor Coppélius, who makes a life-size dancing doll, while the younger girls are learning excerpts from Sleeping Beauty.

Van Wyk is also planning to teach ­Kopano Morogo, a young male dancer from Michaelhouse, a solo performed by Franz, the male lead in Coppélia, and to encourage him to enter the Genée ­Competition, a ­multilevel competition that the RAD runs to help raise money for the Genée International Ballet Competition.

Described as the ‘world cup of dance’, the Genée International Ballet Competition gives dancers the chance to work with and learn from world-renowned dance professionals and choreographers over five days of intensive coaching sessions, before competing in front of an international panel of judges, chaired by the academy’s president, Dame Antoinette Sibley.

It is the first time that South Africa is hosting the competition, in which gold, silver and bronze medals are presented in both the male and female sections.

Van Wyk said each province must raise R30 000 to help the RAD cover the costs of hosting the event, adding: “I’ve come home to Pietermaritzburg to do my bit. All the money from the workshops and performances will go towards it.”

Van Wyk is also choreographing a work, set to music by the Soweto String Quartet, for the final night of the Genée, on October 9. “All my girls will be wearing different coloured tutus, and at the end of the piece they will make up the South African flag,” he said of the piece.

Looking further ahead, he plans to stage Lights, Camera, Dance, a work based on the Oscar-nominated film, Nine, in Cape Town early next year. “The film bombed at the box office, but the dance numbers were phenomenal, and I thought it offered amazing scope for a show,” he said.

The Genée International Ballet Competition will take place at the Artscape Theatre and Opera House in Cape Town, from October  6 to October 9. Book at Computicket.


• Dancers participating in the RAD workshop in Pietermaritzburg will be staging two performances of excerpts from Coppélia and Sleeping B eauty at 12 pm and 3 pm on Sunday, at the Hilton College Theatre. Tickets are R50 at the door. Inquiries: 033 383 0127.

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