South African International Ballet Competition Runs Feb 18-23 at Artscape

South African International Ballet Competition Runs Feb 18-23 at Artscape

Excitement in dance circles is mounting as the fourth South African International Ballet Competition (SAIBC) draws closer. The event takes place at the Artscape Theatre in Cape Town, from 18 to 23 February, with generous support from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF). Formerly known as the Cape Town International Ballet Competition, it is the only event of its kind on the African continent and attracts top dancers from South Africa and the world.

Dirk Badenhorst is the founder and CEO of the competition that has taken place in Cape Town every second year since 2008. In view of the City of Cape Town's decision to terminate its funding of the competition, Badenhorst has confirmed that the competition has reverted to its original 2008 name, the South African International Ballet Competition.

In line with earlier competitions, Badenhorst has assembled a distinguished panel of 8 judges from around the world for the SAIBC 2014.

The line-up includes Argentinean superstar Julio Bocca, the Artistic Director of the Ballet Nacional SODRE in Uruguay, former principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre and an international guest artist applauded as being among the world's leading ballet stars in the last two decades of the 20th century; former PACT ballerina Dawn Weller, the Artistic Airector of PACT Ballet and the State Theatre Ballet from 1983 to 2000 who is currently the Director of Australia's Graduate College of Dance; and Hae Shik Kim, the founding Dean of the Korean National University of Arts School of Dance, former ballerina and Artistic Director of the Korean National Ballet, who is now Artistic Director of the Seoul International Dance Competition.

Also on the panel are Xin Lili, former ballerina, now choreographer and artistic director of the Shanghai Ballet; Ramona de Saá, former dancer, now Director of the National Ballet School of Cuba and Associate Professor of Cuba's Higher Institute of Art and Methodology of the National Centre for Schools of Art; and 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 for classical male dance of the Zurich Dance Academy in Switzerland.

Completing the group are Melanie Person, the co-director of the Ailey School in New York, and Ernst Meisner, Artistic Director of the junior company of the esteemed Dutch National Ballet in the Netherlands.

Since the inaugural SAIBC four years ago, the competition has been hailed by dance enthusiasts around the country as one of the most exciting happenings on the South African dance calendar. It is a tremendous success on a number of levels, attracting the creme de la creme of ballet talent who compete for gold, silver and bronze medals and substantial monetary prizes. In past years, the event has been likened to a World Cup of Ballet or a Ballet Olympics, with dancers displaying breathtaking athletic abilities and technical prowess and go head to head for the coveted top spots on the 'podium' and R340 000 in prize money.

A third age division, Scholar, has opened the competition to dancers aged 12 to 15 years. The other categories are Junior (16 to 20 years) and Senior (21 to 28 years). This year the 48 participants are from Switzerland, Cuba, South Korea, Japan, Brazil, China and includes the biggest number of South African entrants to date.

The elimination rounds take place Tuesday 18 to Thursday 20 February at 6pm; the finals are on Friday 21 February at 7:30pm and the awards evening where the top 5 dancers in each category will compete for gold, silver and bronze medal placement and monetary prizes, takes place on Saturday 22 February at 7:30pm.

The gala performances on Sunday 23 February at 3pm and 7:30pm, billed as THE YOUNG KOREAN BALLET STARS OF THE WORLD will be presented by Badenhorst himself and will showcase the competition winners, the Young Korean Ballet Stars from South Korea and top dancers from the National Ballet School of Cuba. The gala will be repeated once only in Johannesburg, at Gold Reef City, on 25 February at 8pm.

The daily competition schedule can be found on www.ctibc.com. Tickets cost R60 for the elimination rounds; R150-R250 for the finals; R180-R300 for the awards evening, R200-350 for the gala performances in Cape Town and R120-R360 for the gala performances in Johannesburg. Tickets are available through Computicket, Artscape Dial-A-Seat on 0214217695 and 0861 915 8000. Advance booking is recommended.

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