SCENE IT: 8th SAIBC Celebrated Ballet ‘as we like it’

Theatre Scene Cape Town

On Saturday, 23 October 2021, we had the privilege of attending the GALA performance of the 8th SA International Ballet Competition at the Artscape and we were absolutely amazed by the talent of the performers.

The competition kicked off on 19 October 2021, World Ballet Day, and continued as a hybrid event (throughout, including the Gala event) with contestants and judges virtually and in-person gathering from across the world, proving that no pandemic can deprive the world of great ballet when passionate people decide to make it happen.


The competition saw 180 dancers from 28 countries participating: 77 South African dancers performing onstage at the Artscape, while the remaining international contestants competed with pre-recorded video entries.


The 18-member Jury, comprised of representatives across six continents, of which three were South African: Xola Willie (Mzansi Ballet), Allison Hendricks (Dance for All) and Bovim Ballet (Bovim Ballet). The three South African judges were present at the competition in person, while the remaining panellists joined live virtually.


It all came to a spectacular close on Saturday 23 October 2021, with South Africa winning eleven medals and South Korea winning eight. The Covid-regulated capacity audience (as well as those watching online) were treated to live and projected pre-recorded performances in celebration of the young talent blazing the way forward for ballet ‘as we like it’ (as so aptly described by SAIBC Publicist, Allison Foat).


There were three double medalists this year: Xu Wensheng (19) from China who won gold and silver in the Classical and Contemporary Senior Sections respectively, Minjin Kim (15) who won silver and bronze in the Junior Classical and Contemporary Sections respectively and Miguel Franco-Green (15) from South Africa who won gold and bronze in the Junior Contemporary and Classical sections respectively. His compatriots Navin Jacobs (18) took gold in the Senior Contemporary Section and Lumé Fourie (10) won gold in the Scholar Contemporary Section.


The Gala performance was a beautiful evening celebrating the joy of dance, and included performances by—

  • Mzansi Ballet’s Xola Willie and Veronica Louw (in a world première pas de deux from upcoming 2022 production of The Gold Rhino with both dancers exquisitely costumed by David Tlale);

  • Jozi Youth Dance Company;

  • Leap for Joy Dance Studio;

  • children from Dance for All; and

  • First Step Ballet McGregor.

Although all the performance on the night were superb –a great balance of technique and exuberance— a few gifted us with such magical moments that they deserve special mention:

  • the very sassy GOSH performed by Jacqui Pells School of Ballet, choreographed by Michelle Reid;

  • the exciting contemporary performance by Elsje Steyger;

  • the powerful guest performance of FLIGHTLESS by Camille Bracher;

  • the riveting, conservation-focussed performance of THE LAST RHINO by Nico Prinsloo (13); and

  • the too-cute-for-words performance by little enchantress Omolemo Mabi (8) from McGregor (who absolutely stole our hearts).

The Gala evening audience was also treated to the beautiful vocals of the members of the University of the Western Cape Community Chamber Choir. Their rendition of Leonard Cohen ‘Hallelujah’ was performed with great soul.


Aside from the medals, certain competitors were awarded special prizes. Lauren Wycherley (12) Australia won an International Scholarship place The Royal Ballet School. Monica Cristina Tapia Mayo, Yasiel Hodelin, Paola de Jesus Gonzalez Gonzalez from Cuba won a scholarship place at the Berlin State Ballet School. MinSeo Chung (15), Erin Meejune Jung (15), Minjin Kim (15), Ji Youn Song (14) and Dong Hui Kim (14) from South Korea are encouraged to apply to the Royal Ballet School’s Intensive Course in South Korea so that the Royal Ballet School Team can meet and teach them in person. Kohana Williams (15) from New Zealand, and South Africans Gia lipschitz (12), Zeinab Ntombifuthi Kone (13) and Nico Prinsloo (13) and Leichen Pullen (13) were invited to take a Master Class on Zoom and have an audience with The Royal Ballet School’s Artistic Director Christopher Powney. In further exciting news for South African dancers, Omolemo Mabi (8), Emily Oks (13) and Emily Fortuin (15), all from the Western Cape, were awarded a SAIBC/Mzansi Ballet School ballet intensive in Johannesburg in 2022.

The Judges assessed dancers across four categories this year: Novices age 6 to 8, Scholars age 9 to 11, Juniors age 12 to 15 and Seniors age 16 to 19. The medal winners are as follows:


SENIOR CONTEMPORARY - GIRLS

Gold: Grieta Grinberga (19) Latvia

Silver: Huang Xuetong (19) from China and YunJi Ahn (17) South Korea

Bronze: Jawaun Bester (16) South Africa


SENIOR CONTEMPORARY - BOYS

Gold: Navin Jacobs (18) South Africa

Silver: Xu Wensheng (19) China

Bronze: Paolo de Jesus Gonzalez Gonzalez (19) Cuba


SENIOR CLASSICAL – GIRLS

Gold: Chae Eun Park (18) South Korea

Silver: Maria Louisa Marques Barrios (18) Cuba

Bronze: Nina Nashiki (16) Germany/Japan


SENIOR CLASSICAL – BOYS

Gold: Xu Wensheng (19) China (double medal winner)

Silver: Yusei Kobayasji (17) Germany/Japan

Bronze: Richard Darel Gonzalez (19) Cuba


JUNIOR CLASSICAL GIRLS

Gold: Ji Youn Song (14) South Korea

Silver: Minjin Kim (15) South Korea (double medal winner)

Bronze: Erin Meejune Jung (15) South Korea


JUNIOR CLASSICAL BOYS

Gold: Dong Hui Kim (14) South Korea

Silver: Nico Prinsloo (13) South Africa

Bronze: Miguel Franco-Green (15) South Africa (double medal winner)


JUNIOR CONTEMPORARY GIRLS

Gold: YeWon Sim (15) South Korea

Silver: MinJi Kim (14) South Korea

Bronze: Minjin Kim (15) and Elsje Styger South Africa


JUNIOR CONTEMPORARY BOYS

Gold: Miguel Franco-Green (15) South Africa

Silver: Nico Prinsloo (13) South Africa

Bronze: Michael Hodges (13) South Africa


SCHOLAR CLASSICAL – GIRLS

Gold: Chloe Lahood (12) Australia

Silver: Tegshjargal Khashkuu (9) Mongolia

Bronze: Eve Vlahodimos (9) Australia


SCHOLAR CONTEMPORARY - GIRLS

Gold: Lume Fourie (10) South Africa

Silver: Zoe Prinsloo (11) South Africa

Bronze: Micke van Rooyen (11) South Africa


NOVICE

Gold: Khaliun Sukhbaatar (8) Mongolia


The SAIBC 2021 in association with Artscape was generously supported by the Western Cape Government's Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, the City of Cape Town and the Joan St Leger Lindbergh Charitable Trust.


Sad that you missed out and want to see these rising stars in action? Well, your ballet prayers have been answered: The recorded sessions will be available online until 7 November 2021 with tickets via Computicket and the ArtOfLife app (available for free-download on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store).