Three thumbs up for them

2015-05-05 06:00

Gardens local and ballerina, Elizabeth Nienaber will be on stage at Artscape Theatre this weekend in Cape Town City Ballet’s children’s production, Thumbelina.

Elizabeth will be sharing the role of Thumbelina with Meghan Henegan from Claremont and Cleo Ames from Ronde-bosch.

Based on the enchanting fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, Thumbelina tells the story of the little princess and her journey from being born in an acorn to marrying her handsome fairy prince, Cornelius.

“I love that the story of Thumbelina is about little people who make a big difference in their lives,” she says, adding that the feeling of being small in a big world is one that people of all ages can identify with.

“We can relate to longing and striving for the wings of freedom, and of love, and most importantly of self acceptance.”

Elizabeth adds that the message of “dynamite comes in small package” is carried across in choreographer, Robin Van Wyk’s interpretation of this classic fairytale.

“I’m sure the fact that I have always been shorter than average has very little to do with my strong connection to the story,” she jokes.

Five years later After dancing with Ballet Theatre Afrikan and South African Ballet Theatre, Elizabeth joined Cape Town City Ballet in 2010. “Almost five years later I am still here, and very happily so.”

She’s been hard at work preparing herself both physically and mentally for her role as Thumbelina. The role requires strength, flexibility and stamina, which means she’s putting in extra hours at the gym on top of her daily classes and rehearsals.

She’s also been reading the original story and watching different versions. “It is always interesting to get different artistic interpretations of a classic fairy tale.” Elizabeth says this has given her a better understanding of Thumbelina and helped her develop a believable character.

Emotional connectionWhen she isn’t exploring Thumbelina, she tries to listen to the music of the ballet as often as possible. “It is so important as a dancer to have an emotional connection to the music, and also to know the different nuances held within it.”

Elizabeth believes that the public in general should be supporting local ballet by watching performances by local companies.

“I think the notion or idea that ballet is only for a very specific type of person needs to be eradicated,” she says, adding: “Classical ballet is for all types of people, for all us human beings. Any one who wants to be moved on an emotional, artistic, theatrical level will enjoy classical ballet.”

She says parents can get little ones excited by exposing them to ballet as early as possible. She encourages parents to take children to see different productions, to take them to dance movement classes and to expose them to classical music. She also suggests reading them their favourite stories before showing them the classical production.

“This colourful production has an entire cast of different, delightful characters that will get their imaginations racing.” V

Elizabeth, Cleo and Meghan will be on stage in Thumbelina on Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 April. Tickets cost between R80 and R110 and are available from Computicket or Artscape Dial-a-Seat on 021 421 7695.WIN! WIN! WIN!


Five readers can each win double tickets to see the 15:00 show on Sunday 5 April. Visit to enter

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