Review: Prague Scholarship Ballet Competition

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Prague Ballet CompetitionSunday saw the 10th anniversary of the Keith Mackintosh Scholarship Fund. This year the winner was awarded with the chance to travel to Prague to take part in the 14th International Ballet Masterclasses, under the direction of Czech prima ballerina Daria Klimentova.

The competition started with a class presented by the delightful Nicolette Loxton, whose light, humorous teaching broke the tension and made the session more enjoyable. The class included adage, pirouettes and allegro, allowing the audience and adjudicators (Cape Town City Ballet principals Laura Bosenberg, Kim Vieira and Thomas Thorne) to see the 12 competitors’ technical abilities. Throughout the classwork, winner, Natasha Powell and runner-up, Bianca Rijkmans stood out with their technical precision and clean lines. Leane Theunissen also made an impression with her natural musicality.

The competitors each performed a solo, giving them a chance to showcase their strengths and performative abilities. Cherie Pelser gave an exceptional performance in her strong, feisty Esmeralda variation. Chante Daniels also shone, filling the stage with energy as Kitri. Both Powell and Rijkmans were well suited to the fun, playful La Fille Mal Gardee solo, and dazzled with light, fast footwork.

Then, while the adjudicators deliberated, we were treated to a short show featuring performances from the Cape Junior Ballet Company, who performed Kirsten Isenberg’s ‘On and On’ with beautiful fluidity, and Brigitte Reeve-Taylor’s ‘Groove it Up’ with spunk and sass. CTCB’s Meghan Henegan and Revil Yon performed the pas de deux from The Nutcracker, revealing the lovely partnership developing between these young artists. Yon’s solo clearly demonstrated why he was chosen as the winner of the professional section of the award. However, the highlights of the night were definitely the two superb solos by Aaron Smyth, who showed his technical finesse in his classic solo, then blew everyone away with his virtuosity and panache in a more contemporary solo to ‘Feeling Good’.

It’s great to see the up-and-coming talent in South Africa, and the scholarship gives them a platform where they can compete against the best to gain international experience and exposure.

Shirley-Anne Bezuidenhout

The 2nd Prague Scholarship Ballet Competition took place on Sunday 4 October 2015 at the Artscape, Cape Town.

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