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SA INTERNATIONAL BALLET COMPETITION (article first published : 2007-03-18)

The Artscape Opera House in Cape Town is to play host to a prestigious international ballet competition, to be known as the South African International Ballet Competition (SAIBC). It will take place in January 2008 and is the initiative of Dirk Badenhorst, the former CEO of the South African Ballet Theatre in Johannesburg and now CEO of the SAIBC.

Providing an international showcase for local and foreign dancers, this competition, like its counterparts at Varna in Bulgaria, Jacksonville in the USA and the Prix de Lausanne in Switzerland, will typically enable directors of various dance companies in South Africa and abroad to seek out new and exciting talent. The alumni of the afore-mentioned international competitions include Rudolph Nureyev, Sylvie Guillem and Mikhail Baryshnikov.

Members of the competitionís board are all experts in their various fields: Boniswa Peziswa, the Executive Director of Network BBDO; Andrew Gilder, an environmental lawyer and former dancer; Ann Wixley, an Activation Director at Notabene and a former ballerina; Suzie Frankel, a ballet teacher and administrator; Rita van den Heever, the Head of the University of Johannesburg's Arts Centre, and Academy and Allison Foat, a publicist and former ballerina.

The panel of judges will consist of high profile dance personalities from South Africa and overseas and includes Denise Schultze, the former Co-Artistic Director of PACT Ballet, Ballet West in Salt Lake City and a guest teacher with ballet companies and schools in SA and around the world.

The SAIBC aims to ensure that all dance companies and training institutions in South Africa benefit from working together and collectively having access to the guests from the international ballet world. It will also serve as a platform to draw existing amateur and professional dance companies together to learn from each other through competitive engagement and enabling them to grow their audiences through event attendance.

Workshops by visiting and local professionals will benefit young dancers from historically disadvantaged communities as they interact with contestants and visiting teachers. The SAIBC will specifically target the growing number of dance projects that are currently being run throughout the City and its surrounds.

The competition categories are divided into a Junior/Amateur Division (15-18 years) and a Senior/Professional Division (19- 28 years). The judging criteria for the two categories will differ and each will work on a point system per round. There will be cash prizes in all divisions, with the winner in the senior category receiving R100, 000 and the winner in the junior section being awarded R80,000. The Michel Tesson Performing Arts Trust, Guernsey, will be donating most of the prize money.

The competition will be held from January 14 to 19, 2008, at the Artscape Opera House. Further enquiries to Dirk Badenhorst on dirk@saibc.co.za. Booking for attendance of the SAIBC will be through Computicket.




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