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PRESS: Captivating new short dance film celebrates work of William Kentridge

Christine Skinner


In a world first, a captivating new short dance film created by Cape Town City Ballet and Norval Foundation honours the work of internationally acclaimed artist William Kentridge. 

In an imaginative marrying of ballet and sculpture, the online film is inspired by and set against a stage of Kentridge’s Why Should I Hesitate: Sculpture exhibition. Presented by Norval Foundation, Why Should I Hesitate: Sculpture was the first exhibition internationally to address Kentridge’s output as a sculptor, with a unique focus on this aspect of his practice.  The exhibition featured both new and historical artworks and brought the origins of these works, in props from his operas and images from his animations, stepping off the stage and out of the screen, confronting visitors directly at ground level.  

Dancers from CTCB’s Choreolab programme each selected an artwork from the exhibition, which included iconic Kentridge works such as World On It’s Hind Legsand Singer Trio.  Informed by the narrative and lines of the work, the dancers created a short dance piece around it for inclusion in the film. The score was composed by Cape Town based Peter Johnson, who drew inspiration from the sculptures and the dancers’ movements as ‘live sculptures’. 

Both Cape Town City Ballet and Norval Foundation temporarily closed in March 2020 as a result of operating restrictions due to Covid-19. Under level 3 regulations, arts institutions can record content  without audiences and under strict safety conditions for digital streaming. Norval Foundation’s popular Skotnes Restaurant also recently re-opened with access to their Sculpture Garden.

We are proud to be associated with Norval Foundation and especially honoured to mark our first partnership with them celebrating the work of internationally acclaimed artist William Kentridge,” says Debbie Turner, CEO of Cape Town City Ballet. 

These have been difficult times for everyone in the arts sector and we build strength and continue to inspire creativity by collaborating with like-minded organisations.The digital space presents exciting different opportunities how we communicate our stories, pushing and exploring creative boundaries, while working towards our objective of taking ballet to as wide an audience as possible,” says Turner. 

We are delighted to be partnering with Cape Town City Ballet on an innovative virtual project that harmonises two powerful art forms - dance and the visual arts. As a young, multidisciplinary institution, we value this dynamic interplay.  Museums worldwide are looking at how dance - which until now has been performed almost exclusively in theatres - can be experienced in a more interactive and experimental museum context. The museum setting allows dance artists to engage with and interpret the artworks in a way that transforms both artwork and dancer, in a synthesis that generates new and exhilarating meanings and possibilities,”says Elana Brundyn, CEO, Norval Foundation.

Cape Town City Ballet’s conversation with William Kentridge’s monumental sculptures, in “Why Should  I Hesitate: Sculpture”, is a dramatic, visually arresting presentation of movement through negative space, evoking Kentridge’s theatrical training at the L'Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris.  Now more than ever, creative companies must stand united to find ways in which to celebrate all forms of artistic expression, transition for the times, and above all remain connected with our loyal audiences. We hope this is the first of many such collaborations.”   

CTCB’s Choreolab programme was introduced in 2019 as a platform to incubate, nurture and invest in aspiring South African choreographers from within the Company. The choreographer is supported in creating and staging a work, while developing their choreographic skills by also working with a mentor.  Dancers taking part on this year’s programme are Tamlyn Higgins, Mbulelo Jonas, Kristin Wilson, Kholekile Biyongo, Conrad Nusser, Gabriella Ghiaroni, Gabrielle Fairhead, Mia Labuschagne and Nicolas Laubscher.      

This time is not a question of survival for Cape Town City Ballet -  one of the longest standing ballet companies in the world - but one of growth and development,” says Turner.“We will continue to explore new ways to engage with our audience, until the time we can come together again to experience the magic of a live performance.”

To view the film visit

Tickets cost R50 and can be purchased at the link. 

For more information about Cape Town City Ballet visit

Cape Town City Ballet is grateful for the generous support of the City of Cape Town.


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