Review: The South African International Ballet Competition (SAIBC) gala- July 18, 2020

Date: Went out as a stream on Saturday July 18, at 7pm – available for viewing until Tuesday July 21, 2020 at R200 per ticket- details below

I was moved to tears, watching the gala show of the ballet competition. The event has been beautifully staged and filmed with impeccable attention to lighting and sound. Watching Dirk Badenhorst – CEO of SAIBC – standing on the Opera House stage at Artscape – with the empty auditorium is heart breaking. Canned applause simulates a sense of an audience. The gala includes a stirring tribute by Dr Marlene Le Roux – CEO of Artscape – in tribute to the late dancer Kirvan Fortuin. The LGBTQI+ activist was murdered in Cape Town in June. I cried watching Celeste Botha and Marlin Zoutman performing Ouma Katrina: Die Dansende Taal [Grandma Katrina: the Dancing Language] which was created by Fortuin in collaboration with Coenie de Villiers for the Suidoostefees Concert of Hope at Artscape. There are poignant tributes to Madiba and the fact that this gala went out on a live stream on Mandela Day. There are messages from creatives like Ted Brandsen, Jury Chair and the Artistic Director of the Dutch National Ballet Dutch National Ballet and from Ballet Beyond Borders in Montanta, USA.  There is a message from message of congrats from Maxwell Baucus -former US Senator & Ambassador to China during the Obama Administration.


In between there is dance – and what a treat. Some pieces were created for the gala and others have been staged in the past.

I was blown away by Brady Farrar dancing to the song, La Vie en Rose. This 15 year old dancer is a sensation. He is lyrical, graceful, quirky and athletic. I wasn’t surprised when it was announced that he won two golds in the competition – in the scholar section. China scooped the boards as top scoring country with 17 medals, followed by South Korea with seven winners. SA dancers won three medals. Several SA entrants were awarded bursaries to attend schools, summer intensives, other competitions and international events. When it is possible to travel again, these offers are there – amazing.

Poignant, beautiful and stirring sums up how I felt watching this gala. Everything was pre-recorded but it feels like one is watching in the moment. This is a celebration of dance and very much about affirming the moment – that dance goes on – in the pandemic- and that dance transcends time and place. Magnificent.

The 7th SAIBC gala was streamed, using pre-recorded footage from start to finish. The technical whizz is Lauge Sorensen from Johannesburg of http://www.laugesorensen.com/ I was interested to find out that he superimposed Dirk Badenhorst onto the Artscape Opera House stage. So, it looks like Badenhorst is standing in the empty auditorium, making his announcements but he did not actually have to stand on the stage. In these days, where we are practicing social distancing and doing our best to stay physically apart from each other, technology can conjure up a vital sense of “real” and the magic of being physically there in a theatrical sphere. The gala conveys a palpable sense of “live”. I commend Sorensen and his team in seamlessly stitching the components together into a most watchable and utterly memorable concert.

The SAIBC will continue to host interesting panel discussions over the next few months. Follow for updates @saiballetcomp on Instagram and SA International Ballet Competition on Facebook.

The gala show is available for viewing until Tuesday July 21, 2020 at R200 per ticket via the free ArtOfLife app available on the App Store and Google Play Store https://www.saibc.com/

The 2020 SAIBC results – supplied by Allison Foat of Diva PR on behalf of the SAIBC

SCHOLARS

Contemporary

Male

Gold          Brady Farrar, 15   (USA)

Silver        Alberto Gil Vicente, 14  (Spain)

Bronze     Zihan Kong, 15 (China) 

Female

Gold         Margarida Gonçalves, 15  (Portugal)

Silver       Madison Brown, 15 (USA) and Mengxuan Yan, 13 (China)

Bronze    Minseo Chung, 14 (South Korea), Alexia Munn, 13 (South Africa) and Juliana Wilder, 13 (USA)

SCHOLARS

Classical

Male

Gold         Brady Farrar, 15   (USA)

Silver       KangWon Lee, 15 (South Korea)

Bronze     Alberto Gil Vicente, 14 (Spain)

Female

Gold        MinSeo Chung, 14  (South Korea)

Silver      Yoon Seon Jun, 13 (South Korea) and Yujeong Kang, 16 (South Korea)

Bronze   Mengxuan Yan, 13 (China) and Yaeri Kim, 15 (South Korea),

JUNIORS 

Contemporary 

Male

Gold    Francisco Gomes, 17 (Portugal)

Silver   Yasiel Bello Hodelin, 18 (Cuba)

Bronze  Sun Pengxiang, 18 (China)

Female

Gold       Xinyue Zhao, 20 (China)

Silver      Alice McArthur, 16  (New Zealand)

Bronze   Ane Bierman, 18 (South Africa) and Margarida Abreu, 17 (Portugal)

JUNIORS 

Classical 

Male

Gold          Francisco Gomes, 17  (Portugal)

Silver         Yasiel Hodelin Bello, 18 (Cuba)

Bronze      Sun Pengxiang 18 (China)

Female

Gold      Xinyue Zhao, 20 (China)

Silver    Alice McArthur ,16 (New Zealand) and Paige McElligott, 17 (South Africa)

Bronze  Brianna Guagliardo, 16 (USA) and Eugin Ahn, 16 (South Korea)

SENIORS

Contemporary

Male

Gold         Chongzheng Guan, 21  (China)

Silver       Yeodong Sun, 23 (China)

Bronze      Ze Wu, 23 (China)

Female

Gold       Jiayuan Ou, 23  (China)

Silver     Yongyu Chen, 21 (China)

SENIORS

Classical

Male

Gold         Chongzheng Guan, 21  (China)

Silver       Yeodong Sun, 23 (China)

Bronze      Ze Wu, 23 (China)

Female

Gold       Jiayuan Ou,23  (China)

Silver     Yongyu Chen, 21 (China)

Special awards:

Ted Brandsen, Jury Chair and the Artistic Director of the Dutch National Ballet offered several dancers, both medallists and dancers who didn’t place on the podium,  various opportunities at the Dutch National Ballet School, ranging from scholarships, summer schools and  student residencies with connections to Dutch National main and junior companies, all to be realised once COVID19 is no longer a threat. They are Paige McElligott, 17 (South Africa), Eugin Ahn, 16 (South Korea), Francisco Gomes, 17 (Portugal), Dane Head, 17 (New Zealand), Navin Jacobs, 17 (South Africa), Alice McArthur,  16  (New Zealand), Sun Pengxiang, 18 (China) and Yasiel Hodelin Bello, 18 (Cuba).


Juliana Wilder, 13 (USA) was granted a week at the Zürich Dance Academy by Juror Roberta Martins, and Gia Lipschitz, 11 (South Africa) and Francisco Gomes (Portugal) were awarded the opportunity to participate in the international ballet competition in Cuba next year, without having to do the first round. 

The Ballet Beyond Borders (BBB) Grand Prize was awarded to Anthony Mmesome Madu, 11, from Nigeria. Madu won a full Scholarship to attend BBB in Los Angeles or Montana in 2021, accompanied by his teacher Daniel Owoseni Ajala, with all expenses paid. Additionally, twenty-five contestants have been invited by BBB’s Charlene Campbell Carey to attend the Ballet Beyond Borders (BBB) in Los Angeles or Missoula, Montana next year. They are  Soyul Kim, Miguel Kenneth Franco-Green, Yaeri Kim, KangWon Lee, SoJeong Park, Jihye Shin, Seunghwan Hyun, Gia Lipschitz, Madison Brown, Irisa Van Niekerk, Bo Gyeong Kim, Emma Wood, Maria Balinha, Lucas Henry, Mengxuan Yan, Jadeline Gardner – Sandiford, Brady Farrar, Claire Ancell, Wing Yan (Ibby ) Chow, Na-eun Kim, Natalie Henry, Minseo Chung, Sarah Van Breemen, Alberto Gil Vicente, Paige McElligott, Laura Viola, Sun Pengxiang, Francisco Gomes, Yasiel Hodelin Bello, Navin Jacobs, Natalia Bovio Pineda, Tianbao Guo, Alice McArthur, Chloe Windell, Zihan Kong and Larissa Pinto.