Popular estrangement from this art form is not, then, attributable to ballet falling behind the times; it arises from the fact that people aren’t sufficiently engaged with the local ballet scene to notice its evolution, beyond their remote, seasonal interest in old favourites.
This is a pity, especially because, as MacDonald emphasises, ballet offers a unique opportunity to promote both personal and social development. The Joburg Ballet has youth initiatives in Alexandra, Soweto and Braamfontein, and MacDonald is a firm proponent of, as he puts it, “letting children move their bodies, giving them a taste of what ballet’s about, and encouraging them to regard ballet as a sport as well as an art form.”
Ultimately, the plan is to produce a full “season” of Bite-Sized Ballets, in the manner of a television series, and in keeping with the project’s contemporary orientation.
“For the Joburg Ballet, this is about encouraging more people to go and see their shows,” Khoury reflects. “They’re not just doing The Nutcracker, and they’re not just doing Swan Lake. We will always have the traditional shows, the shows that won’t alienate the purists; but the company is becoming more and more diverse in their show selection. I think the future for them lies as much with stuff like Big City, Big Dreams.”
The Bite-Sized ballets feature on YouTube and joburgballet.com.
Don’t miss Joburg Ballet’s last few performances in 2017, their celebrated Carmen at Joburg Theatre from 6 – 15 April 2018, at The Joburg Theatre.