Joburg Ballet’s prima ballerina to retire in April with three performances of La Traviata – The Ballet
Joburg Ballet’s prima ballerina Burnise Silvius has announced that she will be retiring from the stage at the end of the upcoming season of La Traviata – The Ballet at Joburg Theatre. Her final performance takes place on Sunday 9 April, preceded by performances on Saturday 1 April and Saturday 8 April, all at 3.00pm. She will dance the tragic heroine Camille, partnered by guest artist Juan Ledo from the Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires, in the role of Armand. Joburg Ballet artistic director Iain MacDonald makes a rare return to the stage during the season in the character role of Germont.
The 10-performance season of La Traviata – The Ballet runs from Friday 31 March to Sunday 9 April. In addition to Silvius and Ledo, dancers sharing the roles of Camille and Armand are Shannon Glover and Juan Carlos Osma, Dayana Acuna and Michael Revie, and Claudia Monja and Osma.*
Speaking about her imminent retirement, Silvius said she is grateful to look back on a long and fulfilling career. “I’ve been privileged to perform an extensive repertoire of ballets by many great choreographers, to have worked with distinguished teachers, coaches and producers, and with wonderful colleagues – many of whom have become close friends. I will miss the warm and generous audiences, not only in South Africa, but around the world.”
Looking to the future, Silvius said she will be taking time off before deciding on her future path. “Right now I’m looking forward to my wedding in September – and coming to the ballet as part of the audience and eating a whole box of Whispers at the theatre!”
Commenting on Silvius’ retirement, MacDonald paid tribute to Joburg Ballet’s prima ballerina. “Burnise will be remembered by audiences not only as one of South Africa’s finest dancers but by her colleagues as someone who was exceptional in so many ways. Her dedication, passion, commitment, humility, humour and unfailing quest for excellence are just some of the qualities that combined to create the artist and the woman who will be remembered and loved long after the curtain falls on her final performance on Sunday 9 April at Joburg Theatre.”
Pretoria-born Silvius began ballet lessons at the age of four. She joined PACT Ballet in 1994 and was promoted to principal dancer in 1999. In 2000 she joined the Hong Kong Ballet, in 2001 South African Ballet Theatre and in 2004 the National Ballet of Canada, returning to SABT (later Joburg Ballet) in 2005. With Joburg Ballet she danced in China, Botswana, Cuba and throughout South Africa. As guest artist she appeared with Shanghai Ballet, Cape Town City Ballet, Hong Kong Ballet and in Australia. Her repertoire includes the classics as well as ballets by leading 20th century choreographers. She is the recipient of several awards and in 2013 was named prima ballerina of Joburg Ballet. In addition to performing, she coaches dancers and teaches for the Joburg Ballet Academy.
Absent from the Joburg Ballet roster for La Traviata – The Ballet is dancer Jonathan Rodrigues, who this week joins the Finnish National Ballet in Helsinki after dancing in SA for the past seven years. An accomplished dancer and partner and an engaging stage personality, Rodrigues has been popular with ballet audiences in Johannesburg for his many performances in leading roles in the company’s repertoire.
Created in Cape Town in 1990 by major SA choreographer Veronica Paeper, La Traviata – The Ballet is based on the 19th century story of the Lady of the Camellias. A deeply moving portrait of a woman who sacrifices all for the man she loves, the ballet is set to the unforgettable music from Verdi’s opera, La Traviata. The sweeping score has been arranged and adapted for the ballet by conductor Allan Stephenson.
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