Dance review: Cape Town City Ballet Back On Stage, Cape Town May-June 2021 season

What: Cape Town City Ballet – Back On Stage- Cape Town- May-June 2021
Dates: May 26 and 29 May and June 2 at 7.30pm, with a matinee on June 5 at 3pm Where: Artscape Programme: Double bill George Balanchine’s Serenade; Moon Behind The Clouds (a suite of works made during Covid-19 – South African choreographers Veronica Paeper, Kirsten Isenberg, Yaseen Manuel, Lindy Raizenberg and Marlin Zoutman)   Lighting design: Wilhelm Disbergen Tickets: R300 for evening performance and R250 for matinee Booking: Computicket or Artscape Dial-a-seat 021 421 7695   Direct booking link:  

The response to Cape Town City Ballet’s Back on Stage is a resounding “exquisite”. I concur. It is a jewel of a programme with the pairing of George Balanchine’s Serenade (first staged 1934) and Moon Behind The Clouds (a new a suite of works created during Covid-19 by South African choreographers). Both components on the bill are breathtaking- and drew gasps of appreciation from the audience- bursts of applause and “bravos”. It is exquisitely beautiful dance theatre.

First up is George Balanchine’s Serenade. It was the first original ballet Balanchine created in America and is one of the signature works of New York City Ballet’s repertory. By the way, Balanchine was born Georgi Melitonovitch Balanchivadze in St. Petersburg, Russia, on January 22, 1904. Sergei Diaghilev Americanised his name. Serenade is performed exactly according to choreography and specs, as set out by the George Balanchine Trust. For example, the dancers always blue. It is a ballet which made audiences swoon in 1934 and watching in 2021, Cape Town, year two of the pandemic, I was aware of the intake of breath as we were spellbound by the blue dancers on stage- beautifully lit by Wilhelm Disbergen, on a stripped back stage.

Following, Serenade is – Moon Behind The Clouds a new suite of choreographed pieces – set to narration of Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata, narrated by Marcel Meyer.  Desiderata was written in 1927 and this affirmation poem is an anthem for now: “Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons…” Each dance sequence is accompanied by narration by Meyer – who comes on  to the stage. Dramaturgy is by Nathalie Vijver.  I heard people murmuring along to the words; chanting. We can all relate to affirmations like: “And whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.” Watching the exquisite dance by Cape Town City Ballet, in Covid, makes me very happy. This programme lifts one away from Rona. One transcends the noise and tumult and is transported to a space of tranquillity and equipoise. Yes, Back on Stage is exquisite.  Balanchine’s Serenade is sparkling and captivating; fresh as if it was created now. The South African brewed Moon Behind The Clouds- birthed in Covid – is urging us to be “cheerful” and “happy” because it is “still a beautiful world.” Go and see Back on Stage. There are three performances to go and then this season is over.

Note: In tandem with the Back on Stage Programme, Cape Town City Ballet is presenting another double bill at Artscape: Mthuthuzeli November’s Ingoma and Les Sylphides, staged by Lynn Wallis. There is a performance tomorrow – May 28 [2021] and then the other performances are June 3, 4, 5 at 7.30pm. In addition to evening shows, there is a 3pm show on May 29. Read review So, yes, Cape Town City Ballet has two double bill programmes on stage in Cape Town – May-June 2021. See

Cape Town City Ballet Back on Stage Programme: Meghan Lapierre, Gemma Trehearn. Leane Theunissen, Olivia Parfitt, Mikayla Isaacs in George Balanchine’s Serenade. Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo: Joan Ward.

Featured image: Moon Behind The Clouds– part of Cape Town City Ballet’s Back on Stage programme. Photo: Joan Ward.