Local ballet star wins key Africa post

2012-06-05 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG-BORN Robin van Wyk, artistic director of the Cape Town City Ballet (CTCB), has been appointed as the Royal Academy of Dance’s (Rad) international advisor for Africa.

He replaces Dirk Badenhorst, who recently came to the end of his three-year term as international advisor, and will be visiting London to attend a Rad board of trustees meeting this month.

Van Wyk, who grew up in Woodlands and attended Raisethorpe Primary and Haythorn Senior Secondary schools, regularly hosts ballet workshops in Pietermaritzburg for dancers from across KwaZulu-Natal, the most recent of which took place at the end of January and beginning of February this year.

He has performed many of the principal roles in the classical repertoire, as well as many new works created for him by Port Shepstone-born Veronica Paeper, one of the country’s best classical-ballet choreographers

Van Wyk admits he always knew he wanted to be a ballet dancer.

“My grandparents used to take me to see the Pact ballet shows at the Winston Churchill Theatre … and I loved the whole beauty of it,” he said.

“Ballet is a wonderful, physical art form, and now that I’m older and am working with children, it’s amazing to watch.”

Van Wyk first learnt to dance with the help of Brenda McLachlan, who has a studio in Alan ­Paton Avenue (Durban Road).

“She looked after me for many years and was my first teacher. I remained with her until I was 17, and went to the University of Cape Town Ballet School.”

He was able to afford the lessons only because they were subsidised by the then Cape Coloured Department of Education.

After completing his studies, Van Wyk spent a year with the Napac Dance Company in 1990 and back to the Mother City in 1991 to join Pact Ballet. Six years later he joined CTCB.

The versatile dancer, who also appeared in the musical Cats, playing the role of Mister Mistoffelees, began choreographing his own work in 2005, and has since staged Robin Hood, Beauty and The Beast, James Bond The Ballet, The Ugly Duckling, Alice In Wonderland, Nomvula (a tribute to Freshly Ground) and Night and Day, a tribute to Cole Porter.

Van Wyk is currently working on a children’s production of Peter Pan and is making sure the dancers of CTCB are prepared for their production of Giselle, which will be staged at the ­National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.

The dancers will be accompanied by the KwaZulu-Natal ­Philharmonic Orchestra for the performances on June 29 and 30.

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