The Joburg Ballet Company danced its way into the hearts of Overstrand residents when it returned to Hermanus last week for the third year running. The event was hosted this year by Just Care Aftercare in Mount Pleasant.

Revil Yon (soloist) from the Joburg Ballet dance company performing Sing, Sing, Sing.
PHOTOS: Taylum Meyer

Founded in 2015, Just Care provides both a safe haven and a stimulating environment for approximately 130 primary school children under the watchful eye of founder and trustee Jacquie Rathfelder, with the support of her staff and several volunteers.

Joburg Ballet’s performance, entitled ‘Dance 2 Enhance our children’s lives’ not only raised much-needed funds for Just Care but also included a charity performance on Wednesday morning 14 August for children from disadvantaged communities. More than 200 children who would not otherwise have had the means to experience the art of ballet benefited from this outreach programme.

Shannon Glover (principal dancer) and Leusson Muniz (soloist) in Grande Valse.

This was followed by a Master Class on Wednesday afternoon where aspiring ballet dancers had the unique opportunity to receive one-on-one attention from Joburg Ballet’s professional dancers. The youngsters were split into two groups and there was a classical repertoire for dancers aged 8 – 12 years and a contemporary repertoire for 13 – 18 years.

The Gala Performance on Thursday 15 August was followed by a Special Performance on Friday 16 August, where members of the audience were able to meet the dancers (still in costume) after the performance and enjoy snacks and wine together. The final performance was a matinee concert on Saturday 17 August.

The programme included highlights from ballet classics, such as The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker, and exciting neo-classical and contemporary pieces: Transcendance, Raymonda and Wakanda. The programme showcased the company’s leading dancers, giving Hermanus audiences the chance to see ballet at its best.

The exciting performances, which were staged at the Dutch Reformed Church in Onrus, were made even more special by the unique “in the round” format. “It’s a specialised way of presenting ballet and the advantage is that it opens up more space, allowing up to 12 dancers to perform together. The audiences were enthralled not only by the excellent programme, but also by the close proximity of the dancers, something that cannot be experienced at a regular stage performance,” said organiser Cheryl van Niekerk.

Just Care trustee Jacquie Rathfelder thanked Cheryl, Les Clark and all the sponsors and volunteers whose contributions and hard work had made this event possible. Thanks also go to those who participated in the Joburg Ballet Raffle – and congratulations to the winner, Steve van der Merwe.

On behalf of Just Care and the whole of Hermanus, Jacquie expressed her sincere gratitude towards Artistic Director, Iain MacDonald and all the dancers of Joburg Ballet whose passion and talent inspired and exhilarated audiences. There is no doubt that locals are looking forward to welcoming them back next year!

Jacquie Rathfelder (Just Care trustee), Iain MacDonald (Artistic Director of Joburg Ballet), Cheryl van Niekerk (Organiser) and Leslie Clarke (Committee member).
PHOTO: Hedda Mittner

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