This has been a year that has touched us profoundly, that has left its mark on us all as part of the global human family and that has impacted each of us individually in a multitude of personal ways. In our own community of Joburg Ballet, the ballet year began much as we anticipated, with a ballet season of Don Quixote in March that looked set to be a public, critical and box office success. It is ending in a way none of us could have imagined a just months ago.
Within a few days in March, things had altered drastically: the season of Don Quixote was cancelled after four performances, our studios and offices were closed, management, dancers and staff went into lockdown and a huge element of uncertainty loomed over our plans for the rest of 2020.
But as 2020 draws to a close, we can look back on a year that despite its many challenges – challenges we know are far from over – has compelled us to think beyond the tried and tested, to reconsider how we meet challenges, to stretch our imaginations in new directions and to embrace change in a very fundamental way.
The digital world became part and parcel of our daily lives and a new word – Zoom – entered our vocabulary. We offered our dancers daily classes via Zoom and we were fortunate to connect with several guest teachers from around the world to teach some of these classes. This reflects the way in which the pandemic has brought the global ballet community closer together. We have witnessed this also in the ongoing meet-and-greet sessions and Joburg Ballet Offstage live Instagram interviews we have enjoyed with international ballet and dance personalities.
There have been several projects that have unfolded during the year, all of which have been covered in detail in our newsletters. These projects have tapped into the imagination and ingenuity of the company in fresh and rewarding ways and we look ahead to 2021 unsure of what the year will bring but with the confidence we have gained from coming through a year none of us will forget.
We are grateful that when many arts institutions – among them many ballet and dance companies – have faltered, Joburg Ballet has been able to persevere and prevail. For their ongoing support we extend our heartfelt gratitude to our principal funder, the City of Johannesburg, to the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust, the Ball Family Foundation, the Michel Tesson Trust, the South African Ballet Theatre Trust, Friends of the Ballet, the Entertainment Industry Foundation (Los Angeles), Travel with Flair, Baker McKenzie and all our generous friends and supporters.
We thank the Board, Management, Dancers and Staff for their commitment and hard work through a difficult time and wish all a peaceful festive season and a happy and healthy 2021.
Esther Nasser, CEO, and Iain MacDonald, Artistic Director