Joburg Ballet Keeps Dancing
In March, Joburg Ballet, like thousands of companies and businesses across South Africa, found its plans for 2020 suddenly curtailed by measures announced by the government to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. The dancers and staff went into lockdown while in mid-season with the ballet Don Quixote at the Joburg Theatre and seasons and performances scheduled for later in the year were cancelled or put on hold.
In giving an update on Joburg Ballet’s activities in lockdown, CEO Esther Nasser and artistic director Iain MacDonald have provided details of the company’s current projects as well as outlining plans being developed.
The focus of Joburg Ballet’s activities has moved from the stage to the internet with an enhanced presence for the company on its social media platforms. Projects currently in development include a choreographed response to the coronavirus, a series of soirées in the ballet studios later in the year, a ballet Summer School at the end of the year and a season of The Nutcracker at a venue to be announced. All these events will depend on the status of the lockdown stages and will be subject to regulations.
With our dancers not having access to the Joburg Ballet studios, they have been doing daily classes remotely via video communications taught by the company’s regular teachers. Guests are invited to participate in these classes every Wednesday. The participation fee of R100 per class goes towards helping support Joburg Ballet at a time when we are not earning income from the box office. Details of how to register and pay to join the Wednesday classes can be found on our social media platforms and at https://www.joburgballet.com/support/.
Our dancers are enjoying one class a week facilitated by international ballerina Marianela Nuñez and taught by Argentinean teacher Alejandro Parente. Ms Nuñez has also participated in video discussion sessions with the Joburg Ballet dancers and Joburg Ballet School students.
Anaïs Chalendard, who won the hearts of Johannesburg audiences in 2019 when she danced as a guest artist in Joburg Ballet’s productions of The Sleeping Beauty and Giselle, taught an online class for Joburg Ballet on Friday 29 May.
American ballerina Misty Copeland spent a delightful afternoon online with Joburg Ballet, speaking about her career and answering questions on a wide range on ballet related topics.
She is followed this week by Royal Ballet star Vadim Muntagirov who will teach an online class and participate in a discussion session with our dancers.
Joburg Ballet is delighted to be able to share filmed performances online. In partnership with the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra and the Joburg Theatre we are bringing you filmed performances made during recent seasons at the Joburg Theatre. We have already presented Veronica Paeper’s Carmen and Maina Gielgud’s production of The Sleeping Beauty. The next streaming will be Ms Paeper’s La Traviata. All productions are streamed via the Joburg Theatre’s YouTube channel for a limited time of three hours per stream. Details will be posted on our social media platforms.
Other online projects Joburg Ballet has participated in include the global Don’t Rush Challenge and Swans for Relief, an initiative by American dancers Misty Copeland and Joseph Phillips. Thirty-two ballerinas from 22 companies in fourteen countries were invited to film themselves dancing The Dying Swan; snippets from these performances were then edited together into a single continuous performance. Among the line-up of exquisite dancers is Joburg Ballet’s Monike Cristina. Viewers are encouraged to donate to a GoFundMe campaign which will distribute the money among Covid-19 relief funds at the participating dancers’ companies and other arts- or dance-based relief funds.
We are also drawing the students of the Joburg Ballet School into our online activities These include a series of classes structured for different age groups scheduled for Youth Day on Tuesday 16 June.
At the time of this update Joburg Ballet is developing lines of branded dancewear which, as a sure reflection of the times we’re living in, include cloth face masks. We will keep you up to date on the progress of this project.
Joburg Ballet will issue fresh updates as the company faces the challenges of dancing into a new world.
CEO, Joburg Ballet