Dancers from Cape Town City Ballet pirouette their way into Mandela Day to help young dancers get access to data and learning opportunities.

CTCB has released a fun short video of the company’s dancers performing 67 pirouettes to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s birthday held on 18 July, and mark the start of their initiative of providing resources to young dancers in Zolani.

The campaign was inspired by the call from London-based dancer and emerging choreographer Mthuthuzeli November to raise funds to create a space for the community in Zolani, where he is from in South Africa, by joining his online M22 Movement Lab classes on a pay-as-you-can basis. In his Instagram post, November said he had received messages that young community members were falling behind with their dance training and school work due to lack of access to a space to dance and reliable internet connection.

CTCB is supporting the call by arranging for 67 gigabytes worth of internet access to members of the Zolani community, to help them access online learning opportunities. The Company members will also be contributing 67 hours of their work time through the remainder of the year, towards investing in the holistic training of the young dancers – including facilitating online dance and movement sessions, as well as sharing insights and practical skills.

Dance training is more than learning steps and perfecting technique, it is a standard of discipline, an approach to life and work,” says Debbie Turner, CEO of Cape Town City Ballet. “Training for young dancers can instil so much, and we’re more aware of this than ever as we see young dancers struggling in these difficult times, without the sense of structure and community that their dance training environments afford them ordinarily. Dance is an inspirational activity – it also forges friendships and support groups, builds confidence, a sense of purpose and community, and assists with skills that can be applied throughout all aspects of life. We are honoured to be supporting the call by Mthuthuzeli, who is an incredible role model with his immense talent and commitment to giving back – exactly the qualities that we are called to embody on Mandela Day, and every day. 

South African born Mthuthuzeli November trained at Dance For All (an outreach programme founded in 1991 under the auspices of then-CAPAB) and the Cape Academy of Performing Arts. He performed professionally nationally and internationally with the Cape Dance Company before traveling to the UK to tour with Ballet Central, Central School of Ballet’s touring company. In 2015, he joined Ballet Black as First Year Apprentice, and was promoted to Junior Artist in 2016 where he created roles in Arthur Pita’s Cristaux and Christopher Hampson’s Storyville. He made his first ballet for Ballet Black, Interrupted in July 2016. November was recently nominated for a prestigious Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production for his work Ingoma for Ballet Black. He was due to be in Cape Town this August, to add two of his works to the Cape Town City Ballet repertoire.

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