Exiting New Training Program For Teachers in Townships: A South African International Ballet Competition Initiative

International ballet competitions is about the transference of knowledge and the legacies of dance not just during the competitions but importantly from programs emanating from the competitions.  International ballet competitions like the Valentina Kozlova International Ballet Competition and the recent 5th Bi-annual South African International Ballet Competition(SAIBC) in February is a haven of knowledge where training techniques is shared among teachers and dancers.  Competitors and their teachers benefit from the knowledge of the esteemed panels of judges representing some of the biggest companies and schools in the world with most of them former ballet stars themselves

Transformation is a stated aim in South Africa that takes place in the public and private sectors, sport as well as in classical ballet and dance. Over the past 20 years Dirk Badenhorst, CEO of the SAIBC, had a passion for outreach and development and established several initiatives. He officially launched a programme with dance institutions in Cuba with the support of the Cuban Ministry of Arts and the South African Departments of Arts and Culture and International Cooperation as  the Cuban training method is an exceptional model for ballet training in this country with its multi-cultural society being so similar to that of Cuba.

The SAIBC has initiated a program for the Training of Teachers in the Townships, the main purpose being to train and empowerteachers in townships to train dancers in classical ballet using the proven Cuban method so well suited to South Africa.

This program is funded by Ms Mary Slack and has grabbed the imagination to such an extent that even four of the South Korean competitors at the 2016 SAIBC, Minji Namkoong, Hyeonjeong Yoo, Seungmin Lee and Byeongin Choi, as well as Nikita Boris, an American competitor and a student of Ms Valentina Kozlova, have donated their prize money back for this program.

South Koreans and South Africans shine at 5th SA International Ballet Competition at Artscape

The final round of the 5th South African International Ballet Competition (SAIBC) took place at the Artscape Opera House on Saturday 27 February 2016. The performance, attended by Alderman Felicity Purchase and dignitaries from the City of Cape Town, the principal funder of the SAIBC, was a thrilling event attended by key sponsors, embassy representatives, VIP's and dance lovers from throughout the city, country and abroad.

South Korea scooped a total of nine medals across the Scholar and Junior divisions and South Africa, with five gold medals, shone at this year’s event. Faakhir Bestman, age 11, from Hanover Park in Cape Town won the gold medal and R5 000 in the Scholar section. Neline Theron, 15, also from Cape Town, won the Gold medal and R10 000 in the Junior contemporary dance section and Leroy Mokgatle from Johannesburg, who recently won two awards at the 44th Prix de Lausanne in Switzerland, took double gold, winning in both the Junior contemporary and junior classical sections.

Three other South African competitors were awarded special prizes given on the night by two of the judges. Oliver Matz awarded Scholar competitors, Joshua Williams, 13, and Nehanda Peguillan, 14, from Cape Town and Johannesburg respectively, a week’s training in Zurich. Professor Geung-Soo Kim, an honoured guest of the SAIBC and Director of the Seoul International Dance Competition, offered to sponsor R10,000 towards Williams’ travel costs to Switzerland. Additionally, Judge Valentina Kozlova offered Junior competitor Savannah Ireland, 17, from Johannesburg, the opportunity to attend summer school at her Dance Conservatory in New York City and invited her to compete in the Valentina Kozlova International Dance Competition in April.
The competition began on 23 February with five days of intense elimination rounds, culminating in Saturday night’s Finals when entrants from Cuba, South Korea, Brazil, Mexico, the USA, Latvia, Azerbaijan and South Africa faced off for medals and R400 000 in prize money.

The capacity audience was abuzz with anticipation as the exceptionally talented competitors, aged between 10 and 28 years of age, performed superbly in classical solos from well-known ballets, showcasing incredible versatility, artistry, musicality and a breathtaking technical standard.

Africa’s only international ballet competition, the SAIBC was launched in 2008 with subsequent competitions in 2010, 2012 and 2014 attracting dancers from SA and around the world to compete for gold, silver and bronze medals as well as substantial monetary prizes. The categories, in which dancers compete, in both ballet and contemporary dance, are Scholars, (12 to 15 years), Junior (16 to 20 years) and Seniors (21 to 28 years). The competition this year attracted 71 DANCERS, the most to date, from South Korea, Latvia, the USA, Mexico, Cuba, South Africa and Europe.

A distinguished panel of judges from SA and around the world has been assembled for SAIBC 2016, including: Julio Bocca, former principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre, international guest artist and currently artistic director of the Ballet Nacional SODRE in Uruguay; Mi-Song Cho, director of the Korea Youth Ballet Stars; Caroline Iura, ballet mistress of the Dutch National Ballet and Junior Ballet; Valentina Kozlova, former star of the Bolshoi Ballet and New York City Ballet, now director of the New York-based Valentina Kozlova International Ballet Competition; Brigitte Lefèvre, director emeritus of the Paris Opera Ballet; Oliver Matz, former principal dancer of the Ballet of the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin and acclaimed international guest artist, now the Director of Dance Studies and faculty member of the Zurich Dance Academy; and Elizabeth Triegaardt, former principal dancer with CAPAB Ballet, later head of the University of Cape Town School of Dance, Emeritus Professor at UCT and at present Honorary Executive Director of Cape Town City Ballet.

Male and female participants were judged separately in both the classical and contemporary divisions, and the winners are as follows:
Senior Classical - Girls
Gold and R25 000:
no medal awarded
Silver and R15 000:
Miry Oh, 21, South Korea
Bronze and R10 000:
Annija Kopstale, 23, Latvia

Senior Contemporary – Girls
Gold and R15 000:
Annija Kopstale, 15, Latvia

Senior Classical - Boys
Gold and R25 000:
Jonhal Fernandez, 24, Mexico
Silver and R15 000:
Ariel Fabre, 19, Cuba
Bronze and R10 000:
no medal awarded

Senior Contemporary - Boys
Gold and R15 000:
Ariel Fabre, 19, Cuba

Junior Classical - Girls
Gold and R20 000: Celine Park, 16, South Korea
Silver and R12 500:
Hyeonjeong Yoo, 17, South Korea
Bronze and R7 500:
Chaiwon Cho, 16, South Korea

Junior Contemporary - Girls
Gold and R10 000:
Neline Theron, 16, South Africa (Cape Town)

Junior Classical - Boys
Gold and R20 000: Leroy Mokgatle, 16, South Africa (Johannesburg)
Silver and R12 500: Byeongin Choi, 17 South Korea
Bronze and R7 500: Justin Valentine, 17,USA

Junior Contemporary - Boys
Gold and R10 000:
Leroy Mokgatle,17, South Africa (Johannesburg)

Scholar Classical – Girls
Gold and R7 500:
Caroline Grossman, 12, USA
Silver and R5 000:
Nikita Boris, 15, USA
Bronze and R2 500: Minji Namkoong, 13, South Korea

Scholar Contemporary – Girls
Gold and R5 000: Tie between Hyeji Kang, 14, South Korea and Bobby Strong, 15, South Africa (Johannesburg)

Scholar Classical– Boys
Gold and R7 500: Jeongmin Cheon, 15, South Korea
Silver and R5 000: Seungmin Lee, 11, South Korea
Bronze and R2 500: no medal awarded

Scholar Contemporary – Boys
Gold and R5 000: Faakhir Bestman, 11, South Africa (Cape Town)

To bring the evening to a spectacular close, all 70 entrants that participated in the competition this year, danced an exuberant group performance choreographed by Lindy Raizenberg, a fitting finale for what has become known as South Africa’s ‘ballet olympics’. Guest performers on the night included Thami Njoko and the Arms & Length Dance Company, the Korean Youth Ballet Stars and the sensational Cuban born ballerina Adiarys Almeida, amongst others.
The next South African International Ballet Competition is in Cape Town in 2018.