The Johannesburg Youth Ballet (JYB) presents Ruby Celebration from 10-13 August at UJ Arts Centre Theatre marking 40 years of the JYB.
This shining finale to the 40th anniversary year falls, with perfect synchronicity, 40 years to the weekend that the newly formed JYB performed in Aberdeen, Scotland in August 1977 at the International Festival of Performing Arts and Orchestra.
Ruby Celebration is certain to delight dance lovers of all ages. The line-up includes excerpts from the ever-popular Coppélia and the premiere of The Ruby Suite – specially commissioned for the 40th Anniversary and choreographed by Mary-Ann Mottram, Laura Cameron, Alex le Maitre and Thato Nkwe.
Directed by JYB’s artistic director Mark Hawkins, The Ruby Suite is an exciting synthesis of neo-classical, flamenco, hip-hop and contemporary dance which not only showcases the versatility of the dancers of The Johannesburg Youth Ballet, but also the versatility and innovation of the gifted choreographers.
Many will remember Mary-Ann Mottram (formerly de Wet) for her acclaimed performances for the Playhouse Dance Company and Fantastic Flying Fish Dance Company. A Nederburg award winner for classical ballet, Mary-Ann Mottram recently accepted the position as ballet mistress of the JYB. She assisted in the re-staging of A Midsummer Night’s Dream which played the Joburg Mandela Theatre in 2016 and recently returned from a highly successful season at The National Arts Festival where 40 years of the JYB was celebrated on this premier national platform.
Laura Cameron and Alex le Maitre, both former members of the JYB, have gone on to forge impressive professional careers as dancers and teachers. Thato Nkwe is a graduate of TUT and is a guest artist for the 2017 season.
“The Ruby Suite is an incredibly exciting and bold collaboration and is a perfect finale for the 40th Anniversary – the name being a celebration of a traditional 40-year anniversary – a Ruby anniversary. Considered to be the stone of love, energy, passion, power – a zest for life – we believe that our Ruby Suite captures all this and more” says Hawkins.
“Our company members are exposed to origination on the one hand and are also experiencing the classical repertoire which is vitally important in the training and development of young dancers. We have chosen to do excerpts from Coppélia – Act 3 with the Mazurka from Act 1,” says Hawkins, “it is really heartening to see these 21st century teenagers rise to the stylistic challenges of this romantic ballet. Coppélia offers the corps and featured dancers a chance to shine,” continues Hawkins, “we are also delighted to have young guest artists Alice Le Roux, Ivan Domiciano, Jessica Hurwitz and Laurance James from Joburg Ballet dancing Swanhilda and Franz for our season.”
The JYB continues to bridge the space between young artists and the profession. It is the professional ethos of the JYB company that has distinguished it from the outset and will continue to shape its future. Many former members ably cross the bridge into the professional sector and it is impressive to see just how many leading professional dancers have been nurtured by the JYB. “Shannon Glover, Iain MacDonald, Moya Michael, Melody Putu, Shannel Winlock, Angela Malan, Angela Maree Revie, Mahlatse Sachane and so the list goes on” concluded Hawkins.
The Gala performance on Saturday 12 August at 6:00 pm will open with a Grande Defile featuring former members of the JYB including members of the inaugural 1976/1977 company. Dressed elegantly in shades of ruby, past members will help to celebrate and toast 40 years of the Johannesburg Youth Ballet. Staged by JYB’s Artistic Advisor, Nigel Hannah, the defile will be a catalyst for sharing memories and archiving them in the 40th Anniversary publication “The Ripple Maker – The story of the JYB” to be compiled and edited by Adrienne Sichel and Tammy Ballantyne.
A 40th Birthday is always a celebration and a milestone achievement. For a youth company in the arts to have achieved this milestone makes it all the more remarkable. And for a company that for years ran on modest membership fees and box-office returns, blood, sweat and tears, elbow grease and a wing and a prayer – makes the achievement worthy of a standing ovation!
Support this extraordinary company from 10-13 August at the UJ Arts Centre Theatre in Ruby Celebration. Tickets are priced at R100 – R120 and are available through Computicket.
The Johannesburg Youth Ballet is a grateful recipient of National Arts Council 3 Year Company Funding 2016 – 2018.