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Dance International
Written by: Daphne Jubber
20/07/2010

The venue was packed to capacity, the fans were tense but excited, the flags of the competing countries were proudly displayed. At last the long wait was over and we would soon know who would win the finals….

Photo: Nathan Chaney

Sound familiar? But where were the blaring vuvuzelas and the gum chewing coaches pacing up and down? Big difference—we were at the finals of the International Ballet Competition seated in the warmth of the Artscape Opera House on Saturday evening. The similarities were still there though—after years of painstaking preparation South Africa was hosting phenomenal talent from all over the world and showcasing this for fans from every corner of the globe.

The 32 entrants, ranging in age from 15 to 28 spent the week in classes and rehearsals working with local teachers. Three days of hectic elimination rounds culminated on Friday 16th July with the classical finals and announcement of the finalists who then performed on Saturday evening together with guest artists.

The panel of distinguished judges was comprised of Christopher Kindo (South Africa), Eduard Greyling (South Africa), Hae Shik Kim (Republic of Korea), Ismael Albelo (Cuba), Lili Xin (China), Lisa Pavane (Australia), Mario Galizzi (Argentina), and Septime Webre (USA).

They had been welcomed to Cape Town with a gala dinner hosted by the Premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille, and her continued support was evidenced by her presence at the finals. She was joined by Alderman Belinda Walker on the stage and together they presented the medals to the winners.

The evening started with the Cape Town City Ballet dancing a scene from Carmen featuring Laura Bosenburg. The other guest artists were Camille Bracher, Kitty Phetia, the Jazzart Dance Theatre, Bovim Ballet and the Cape Dance Company. These artists were interspersed amongst the competitors—a wonderful opportunity to showcase dancing by professional South African companies and another chance to feel proudly South African.

The audience on Saturday night must have felt sympathy for the judges’ near impossible task of deciding on the medal winners when every performance was one of breathtaking technical brilliance and mind blowing artistry. The talk during the interval was rife with tales of who fell off pointe during the elimination rounds and whose nerves got the better of them and who did not manage their pirouettes with panache but the finalists pulled off their performances almost flawlessly. Making the judges’ task even harder was the fact that they were judging some competitors in pas de deux and some in solos and also the male and female sections were combined. This set up may need to be restructured because though it made for great entertainment value, it may be more fair to compare apples to apples!

The first of the finalists was Victor Manuel Estevez Acosta from Cuba with his non competing partner Monica Gomez Bolanos who had been previously eliminated. They performed a classical pas de deux and were followed by Jeon Yeo Jin from the Republic of Korea with her classical solo, Oscar Valdes Carmenates from Cuba with a solo from Don Quixote, Nathan Chaney from the USA with a classical solo, then from the Republic of Korea Nuri Oh with her solo from Paquita, from Italy we had Rafaelle Zarrella with a solo from Don Quixote, then our own Andile Ndlovu dancing Sigfried from Swan Lake, and from Canada Aaron Smyth and Alys Shee gave us an exquisite pas de deux from Don Quixote.

After interval the competitors shed their classical personae and emerged with a total change of personality showing their versatility with their contemporary pieces. We watched Nathan Chaney, Andile Ndlovu, Thoriso Magongwa from South Africa, Hyo-Seon Park from Repubic of Korea, and finally Monica Bolanos with Victor Acosta in a contemporary pas de deux.

We filed out for interval with the thought of what a daunting sight it was to see a 16 year old executing so many perfect turns—obviously copious talent combined with thousands of hours of practice….

And to end we were treated to the entire cast of competitors performing a rousing finale to our Waka Waka song cleverly choreographed by Lindi Raizenberg.

Our compere Brian Winter introduced the judges to the audience, Eduard Greyling, chairman of the judging panel spoke about the experience, and then the winners were announced.

Juniors:
Nathan Chaney - Gold medal and the contemporary prize
Alys Shee - Silver medal
Jeon Yeo Jin - Bronze medal

Seniors:
Oscar Valdes Carmenates - Gold medal
Hyo-Seon Park - Silver medal
Aaron Smyth - Bronze medal
Thoriso Magongwa - Contemporary prize
Andile Ndlovu - Special jury prize for his versatility, artistry and talent.

Dirk Badenhorst, CEO of the event ended the evening with acknowledgments and thanks and led us in singing Happy Birthday to Madiba just to compound the warm glow we were all experiencing….

So after weeks of a total emersion in the world of sport, Cape Town found relief in the graceful, ethereal world of dance with never a head butting in evidence—except possibly in the figurative sense backstage! However from all accounts, all the competitors, trainers, hosts and judges formed lasting friendships with each other and with Cape Town which in the words of one of the judges, is the most beautiful city in the world.

We all agree - whether for sports or the arts - Cape Town rocks!

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