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Joburg Ballet

THE JOURNEY TO JOBURG BALLET A Brief Background to the establishment of Johannesburg’s professional ballet companyBallet has a long history in the City of Johannesburg but Joburg Ballet traces its direct beginnings to the establishment of The South African Ballet Theatre in 2001. In that year, six dancers came together following the closure of the State Theatre Pretoria and its performing companies, including The State Theatre Ballet, previously PACT Ballet, the year before. With determination and backed by a supportive board but with no public funding, the six dancers gathered a company together and began to present performances for the public. Based initially at the State Theatre Pretoria, the company started on the long and arduous road to becoming an active, professional part of the country’s cultural fabric.A major milestone was the relocation of SABT from Pretoria to new, purpose-built studios and offices at the Joburg Theatre, known then as the Johannesburg Civic Theatre. With a home of its own in Johannesburg, the company moved forward with greater confidence and the advantage of being closer to South Africa’s cultural and economic heartbeat. But there was always an ongoing struggle to keep afloat and there were times over the years when the situation seemed bleak.In 2006, founding CEO Dirk Badenhorst left the company to explore new ventures. These included the establishment of the Cape Town International Ballet Competition, Africa’s only event of this kind, the beginning of a close partnership with Cuban ballet, the first International Ballet Gala and the founding of Mzansi Productions, a small, versatile dance company. For the next three years The South African Ballet Theatre and Mzansi Productions operated independently of each other as two professional ballet and dance companies based in Johannesburg.The next important milestone in the journey towards the establishment of Joburg Ballet was the merger of SABT and Mzansi Productions to create South African Mzansi Ballet in 2012. This brought Dirk Badenhorst and Iain MacDonald, two of the original six founders of SABT a dozen years before, back together as CEO and Artistic Director of the new company which, like SABT had been, was based at the Joburg Theatre.In June 2012, the City of Johannesburg announced a generous sustainable funding grant for the company in terms of which the name was changed in September this year to Joburg Ballet. Proudly resident at the Joburg Theatre, Joburg Ballet’s CEO is Dirk Badenhorst and the Artistic Director is Iain MacDonald. The Honorary Life Patron is Mrs. Annzie Hancock and Mrs. Mary Slack, Mrs. Carolyn Steyn and Mr. Tito Mboweni are the company’s Patrons.The company’s dancers are skilled in classical ballet and contemporary dance and perform a repertoire of ballet classics and contemporary works by visiting and South African choreographers. The schedule embraces performances across South Africa as well as internationally and Joburg Ballet enjoys close international ties with ballet companies and schools around the world. In addition to the professional company, Joburg Ballet operates extensive development and outreach programmes as well as the South African Cuban Ballet School, a Ballet Academy and an Apprenticeship Programme.The sustainable funding grant from the City of Johannesburg marks a major development in South African arts funding as well as increasing Joburg Ballet’s ability to better fulfill its vision of making dance an art form embracing the widest possible cross section of South African society, and to enhance standards, training, development, job creation, opportunities, continuity, sustainability, tourism, international goodwill and transformation.JOBURG THEATRE COMPLEX, HOOFD STREET, BRAAMFONTEIN / PO BOX 291990, MELVILLE 2109, SOUTH AFRICA TEL +27 (0)11 877 6898, FAX +27 (0)11 877 6864; E-MAIL [email protected]; WEBSITE INCORPORATED UNDER S21: 2001/016254/08 016-403 NPO DIRECTORS: DIRK BADENHORST (CEO), JAMES CAMPBELL (ACTING CHAIRMAN), IAIN MACDONALD (ARTISTIC), CEDRIC NTUMBA, CATHY POWERS, RICHARD THOMSON, GRANT ROGERSON, LORNA MASEKO, DAVID BLYTH HONORARY LIFE PATRON: MRS. ANNZIE HANCOCK; PATRONS: MR. TITO T. MBOWENI, MRS. MARY SLACK, MRS. CAROLYN STEYN

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