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25TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION OF THE VAL WHYTE BURSARY - 2015
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The Val Whyte Bursary...In Perspective
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Dance International
Written by: Michèle le Roux Lowdon
30/5/2015

The prestigious Val Whyte Bursary programme, prominent on the annual Gauteng ballet calendar, celebrated 25 years on 29 and 30 May 2015 at the Roodepoort Theatre.
The Legacy of the Val Whyte Bursary began in 1991 with nine finalists and it was again nine finalists who graced the stage on its silver anniversary. Each finalist placed a rose on stage paying tribute to Val Whyte on this momentous occasion.

Prima Ballerina of Joburg Ballet, Burnise Silvius expertly coached and presented these aspiring dancers to the fine accompaniment of acclaimed Jarkie Roos.
The nine finalists were: Tracey André (Joanne Bobrow), Tyla Cullerton (Celeste Greeff), Paige Hamilton (Celeste Greeff), Michaela Louw (Natasha Ireland), Sarah Miller (Karen Beukes/Anneliese Venter), Unathi Ncube (Joanne Bobrow), Nehanda Peguillon (Natasha Ireland), Hannah Scott (Annabelle Wahl/Wilcarina Yeates), Jenna-Lee Symonds (Vanessa Eborall).
Five adjudicators observed the progression of the finalists presenting a class with barre work in a studio setting during the week to the final class on stage on the last night, when Sarah Miller (Karen Beukes/Anneliese Venter) was announced the Bursary winner for 2015. In addition, all finalists received a year of sponsored tuition at the Joburg Ballet Academy.

The adjudicating panel comprised: Manuel Norambuena (HOD and Ballet Master at the National School of the Arts); Felicity Haynes (ARAD), a teacher, guest teacher and adjudicator and also previously a badge and graduate tester for the National Society of Dance Teachers; Sue le Cordeur (AISTD Cecchetti faculty), a past Associate Member of PACT Ballet Company who has been running her studio and teaching for 32 years; Paula Olivier, completed RAD and Cecchetti major exams, danced professionally with the Johannesburg Festival Ballet Company, Gwen Ashton Ballet Company and Lorna Haupt professional Ballet Group, holds the Solo Seal of the Royal Academy of Dance and was an Adeline Genée Silver Trophy winner, taught and coached numerous professional dancers, including Burnise Silvius and pioneered the Dance Department at Hoërskool Waterkloof where she was HOD for nine years; Diana Ward-Hull, (FISTD Cecchetti faculty, Maestro Cecchetti Diploma, AISTD National and Modern faculties), Cecchetti Examiner, National Society of Dance Teachers Badge and Graduate Tester, runs a studio at Redhill School and Sandton, teaching all levels up to Cecchetti Qualifying examinations who was involved with Val Whyte at its inception and had pupils participating.
The supporting programme of Dance Excellence opened with La Vivandière Pas de Six performed by artists of the Joburg Ballet. La Vivandière is a ballet in one act premiered in London in 1844 to music by Cesare Pugni. The original ballet by Arthur Saint Léon is lost but in the 1970s this ebullient pas de six was reconstructed in two versions by dance historians Anne Hutchinson-Guest and Pierre Lacotte.

Joanne Bobrow and Tracey McNiven choreographed Under African Skies with a children’s cast up to the age of 12 years and a guest appearance by Vuyeni Feni as a hunter and later, a gumbooter. This outstandingly rehearsed ballet, set to a range of vibrant music, took the audience on a journey highlighting the splendours and diversity of Africa and its many treasures.

Swan Lake Act IV was performed by professional Joburg Ballet dancers, flanked by Joburg Academy students. Jessica Overton danced the role of Odette with Michael Revie as Prince Siegfried and Jonathan Rodrigues as Von Rothbart.
Joburg Ballet concluded the evening programme with the virtuoso pas de deux from the ballet, The Flames of Paris, created in the 1930s, which show cases the brilliance and bravura of the Russian Soviet style.
The Val Whyte Bursary chairperson, Cheryl van Niekerk and her committee, Carole McLuskie (secretary), Zandra Gibbon, Celeste Greeff, Karen Symons and Kerry Vida, with Michèle le Roux co-opted, extend their appreciation to Master of Ceremonies, Sue King, Joburg Ballet, the Gauteng Ballet teachers, their students and parents, for all their support.

Auditions for 2016 Val Whyte Bursary take place on 5 & 6 September 2015.

For further enquiries, kindly contact Celeste Greeff on 082 927 4758 or Carole McLuskie on 082 379 1681.

(* All photographs by Colin Hall
Submitted by Michèle le Roux

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