SA International Ballet Competition to be held virtually

Picture: iStock

It is the only international ballet competition in Africa, on a par with similar contests held annually throughout the world.

On Monday, the South African International Ballet Competition (SAIBC) announced it was pivoting!

The highly anticipated event that was scheduled to take place at the Artscape Opera House from 13 to 18 July has taken a leap into the online space and will now be held virtually.

A virtual ballet competition first, the SAIBC Online will now have a far broader reach as dancers, teachers and ballet fans from every corner of the globe are able to connect to it online.

“Being online has also taken the pressure off many who may have found it difficult during these trying times to raise funds for travel and accommodation,” said Dirk Badenhorst, founding chief executive and director of Mzansi Ballet, whose idea it was to switch to a virtual event.

An additional exciting component to SAIBC Online will be the introduction of its own app, details about which will be released next week.

Funding from the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) supports not only the SAIBC but also the SAIBC’s Training Teachers in the Townships programme, the SAIBC International Ballet Intensives, the International Ballet Gala and various Mzansi Ballet stage productions.

The NLC enables SAIBC to continue its decade-long commitment to the development of ballet in all communities and to the role that dance plays in the arts and culture sector.

While the competition is still six weeks away, no one knows which lockdown level the world will be under by mid-July and, even if mass gatherings will be allowed, social distancing will likely be the advised safety protocol for the foreseeable future.

“Doing the SAIBC at the theatre, is not an option since the safety of our team, participants, audiences and Artscape staff is important,” said Badenhorst.

“Yet, at the same time, we don’t want to lose this highly anticipated event that dancers have been working towards and that audiences have been looking forward to since the last competition in 2018. The pandemic has dealt us a blow but, at the same time, it has enabled us to innovate, pivot and welcome new opportunities – it’s incredibly exciting!”

The first SAIBC was held in Cape Town in 2008 and has grown into one of Cape Town’s most dynamic cultural events. It’s the only international ballet competition in Africa, on a par with similar contests held annually throughout the world.

Historically, the week-long event would attract between 50 to 80 talented dancers and their support teams from almost every continent to Cape Town to compete for gold, silver and bronze medals and substantial monetary prizes.

The spin-off has always been, and remains multifaceted, benefitting not only the dance communities throughout the Western Cape but the tourism sector as well.

For the SAIBC Online, ages and categories for participants will remain the same: scholars (12 to 15 years), juniors (16 to 20 years) and seniors (21 to 28 years) with men and women competing separately.

“In order to accommodate the impact that the pandemic has had on the training routine of dancers, the competition panel will award the top prize in each category by an evaluation process as opposed to the usual scoring system,” said Badenhorst.

“During the competition week, the panellists will also be giving each entrant constructive feedback after their variation has been viewed.”

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