Elizabeth Triegaardt has announced that she will be hanging up her ballet shoes after 52 years and retiring from all functions at Cape Town City Ballet.
After a career of relentless service, Honorary Executive Director of Cape Town City Ballet, Elizabeth Triegaardt, has announced she will be retiring from all functions at the dance company she served for 52 years. Chairperson of the Cape Town City Ballet Board, Suzette Raymond honours Triegaardt’s commitment to her craft, saying: “The Board of Cape Town City Ballet, its staff, and the ballet community at large is deeply indebted to Elizabeth Triegaardt for her invaluable contribution to dance and classical ballet over the years both in Cape Town & nationally.”
During her tenure, Triegaardt served the dance company as both an exemplary dancer and leader; and her expertise will be sorely missed in the studio and on stage. In the last two years, in addition to the core business of mounting productions and ongoing outreach programmes, Triegaardt has overseen the relocation of the company to new premises, and the appointment of a successor, in CEO Debbie Turner, to lead the organisation into a new season. Turner says: “Prof has been an enormous source of information and inspiration – I am deeply honoured to be entrusted with continuing her legacy of building excellence in South African dance.”
At this time, it is salient to reflect on Triegaardt’s significant commitment and service to classical ballet in South Africa.
Triegaardt is a polymath, whose multiple and varied talents are evident throughout her exceptional career. Her passion for dance was sparked at the tender age of three, when Elizabeth began her training at a class for toddlers in Pretoria. After training in ballet with Ivy Conmee and Marjorie Sturman, Triegaardt completed a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics at the University of Cape Town (UCT). In the same year she graduated, Elizabeth obtained her solo seal from the Royal Academy of Dancing – a highly regarded accolade in the ballet world.
CAPAB Ballet Company – the progenitor of Cape Town City Ballet – welcomed Triegaardt into the fold in 1967, and she remained fiercely loyal to the company ever since. A trailblazing performer, Triegaardt created many iconic roles in the ballets of South Africa’s leading choreographers, including Veronica Paeper and David Poole.
Triegaardt was well known for her portrayals of many of the villainesses in the repertoire and was most acclaimed for her performances as the “Black Swan” in Swan Lake and as “The Lilac Fairy” in Sleeping Beauty – for which she won the Nederburg prize. She served as a principal dancer and ballet mistress of the company until 1986 and continued as a guest artist and repetiteur until 1990.
As the Head of the UCT School of Dance for 22 years, Triegaardt is recognised for her pivotal role in introducing the first degree in dance in South Africa and broadening the scope of practical training in the department to allow students to major in African dance and contemporary dance, as well as classical ballet. Affectionately known as “Prof” by the legions of dancers and students who have had the good fortune to work with or be trained by her, Triegaardt earned the title of Emeritus Associate Professor of the University of Cape Town School of Dance. In 2003 Prof was acknowledged by the Western Cape Government for Meritorious Service to the Arts in the province, and in 2009 was honoured by the Premier for her work at UCT.
Prof’s dedication to Cape Town City Ballet continued in tandem with her role at UCT, serving as Executive Chairman from 1997, during which time she transformed the company into a Section 21 NPO. After resigning as Chairman of the Board in 2004, Triegaardt remained Honorary Executive Director. Over the course of the 52 years of service that she has devoted to Cape Town City Ballet, Elizabeth Triegaardt has produced world-class ballets for performances across South Africa and played an essential role in the survival of the much-loved 85-year-old company.