In an effort to raise awareness of the plight of the rhinos, Dirk Badenhorst and the South African Ballet Competition have brought together twelve ballet dancers from nine countries around the world to wow audiences in a handful of Gala performances. With excerpts from well know ballets such as Swan Lake and Giselle to the less familiar Flames of Paris and some more contemporary pieces, it is a night packed with some of the best of ballet.
The performance opens gently with the Pas de Trois from Le Corsaire which builds in energy as the dancers grow more confident. Javier Monier and Andile Ndlovu show off their head clearing elevation and Anujin Otgontugs’ calm and controlled fouetté turns has the audience enthralled. This results in an exciting coda that leaves the audience expectant for what is to come. There are many delightful moments that live up to this expectation, including a charismatic and precise technical performance by Artemiy Pyzhov in the second Le Corsaire variation of the evening, with an especially impressive tour en l’air sequence. Flames of Paris from Otgontugs and Monier is also charmingly bright and buoyant, with Monier defying both gravity and physics with some of his leaps. And Neline Theron’s contemporary Intrinsic Impulsions is intriguing with some fun and quirky choreography.
The Pas de deux from Romeo and Juliet unfortunately lacks the passion to make it memorable among the rest. And Bengingazi, though it has enjoyable panstula elements that the audience loves, is a bit incongruous and the narrative a bit confusing. This is however soon forgotten amidst a programme full of impressive technical execution and artistic interpretation. Highlights are hard to narrow down, but Maria Rudenko and Artemiy Pyzhov’s partnering in Melody is so seamless and fluid, making the interweaving of the undulating fabric extremely aqueous and mesmerising without the need for flashy tricks. On the other hand, it is exactly this virtuosity that makes the Black Swan Pas de Deux the perfect end to the evening, with breathtaking jumps from Jonhal Fernandez and some thrilling turns from Lissi Baez, who completes the iconic fouetté turns with the addition of some triples and a change of direction thrown in.
A entertaining evening displaying a variety of the ballet repertoire as well as the talent of the international artists, it is a must for ballet enthusiasts.
The International Ballet Gala took place at the Artscape Opera House on 2 September 2017.