The Johannesburg Youth Ballet’s (JYB) interpretation of ‘Hansel and Gretel’ premiered at the UJ Arts Centre in Johannesburg to full houses and critical acclaim last year. Now, following hot on the heels of capacity performances on the Main Program of the National Arts Festival, the production returns to the UJ Arts Centre for eight performances from August 14 to 18. Thereafter it moves to Durban’s Playhouse Drama Theatre for the final leg of the JYB’s 3 Cities 3 Stages 2013.
The young dancers have been put through their paces by Artistic Director Kate Martin and choreographer Mark Hawkins and have shown absolute passion and commitment in return. “I feel so inspired to give all I can back to this production, to teach what I have learnt and to dance until I can’t dance anymore,” says Roswyn Finlay, who plays the witch.
The dancers, who range in age from 12 to 23, are selected through an audition process. Thereafter all weekends are dedicated to classes and rehearsals, which increase in intensity as the annual season approaches. These young artists are certainly learning time management skills as they balance the demands of the Johannesburg Youth Ballet with the rest of their schedule.
Some of the cast members are busy completing their Matric. “It is quite difficult being in matric. Sometimes the only way to handle work and ballet is to get very little sleep. You have to be prepared to make a lot of sacrifices, like not going out with your friends but it is definitely worth it though,” says Dani Kane, who plays Gretel at some performances.
Others face the normal challenges of high school. “Having a balance between school and dance can become very difficult at times, especially during exams but I find that JYB helps me manage my school time better,” explains Jaimee Mills, a Grade 10 learner, who also plays Gretel. “Because rehearsal is dedicated to the weekends, I am under pressure to finish certain school tasks during the week or they won’t get done.
Having a busy weekend encourages me to work harder during the week, so ultimately it all mends together well.”
While Rachel Nel, also dancing the role of Gretel, comments, “I have to plan my time very carefully so I have enough hours every day to get done what needs to be done. On weekends I try to get some homework done in between the rehearsal schedule but I also need to rest so my Sunday afternoons are generally spent on homework to get ahead for the week.”
Joburg audiences who missed the premiere season last year now have the opportunity to enjoy this enchanting two-act ballet, which has been cleverly crafted by four of South Africa’s leading creative talents; choreographer Mark Hawkins, composer Nik Sakellarides, set, costume and animation designer Andrew Botha and AV (audiovisual) Projection specialist Malcolm Finlay from PENMAC.
* Tickets cost R80 to R130. Book at Computicket.
The Early Bird Booking special price is R80.
Visit www.jyb.co.za for more information.