What: SALT – presented by Cape Ballet Africa

Choreographers: Kirsten Isenberg, Mthuthuzeli November and Michelle Reid
When: September 21-28, 2024
Where: The Pam Golding Theatre at The Baxter
Bookings: Webtickets.
Set design: Michael Mitchell
Lighting design: Patrick Curtis

Cape Ballet Africa dancers: Camille Bracher, Gabriel Ravenscroft, Gemma Trehearn, Jan Kotze, Joshua Williams, Julia O’Keeffe, Kayla Schultze, Kingsley Beukes, Mia Coomber, Nicolas Laubscher, Nina Simpson and Quinton Jacobs.    

Exciting dance news is SALT, the inaugural season of the newly established Cape Ballet Africa in Cape Town, Baxter Pam Golding Theatre. The programme features a triple bill of ballets by three acclaimed South African choreographers, Kirsten Isenberg, Mthuthuzeli November and Michelle Reid. Note – there are six performances. Read on for more about SALT, the creative team and dancers:

Cape Ballet Africa ignites The Baxter stage with its inaugural season SALT, September 2024

Cape Ballet Africa ignites The Baxter stage this September with its inaugural season celebrating new work by a trio of revered South African choreographers.

SALT features a triple bill of ballets by Kirsten Isenberg, multiple award-winning choreographer Mthuthuzeli November and Michelle Reid in a programme that prioritises the commissioning and creation of new South African choreographic works.

SALT will be performed from September 21-28, 2024 in the Pam Golding Theatre at The Baxter.

Bookings can be made at Webtickets.

SALT resonates on so many levels in our daily existence. It flavours, purifies, heals, preserves. Salt has significance in ancient rituals, warding off evil, keeping us safe and inspiring us to a higher spiritual realm,” says Debbie Turner, Founder and Artistic Director of Cape Ballet Africa.

For our auspicious inaugural season, the three works by Kirsten Isenberg, Mthuthuzeli November and Michelle Reid feature the immense skills of the artists within the broad spectrum of the interpretation of the classical ballet technique. The works are poignant, sleek, stylish, celebratory and percussive. Expect strong athletic pointe work, gravity-defying pas de deux, and beautifully articulated bodies in motion that depict a textured poetry within the richly inwoven movement vocabulary.”

Cape Town has a proud legacy of dance. We want to invest in and build on that going forward into the future,” concludes Turner.  

Kirsten Isenberg’s Reverie, a neoclassical work to Rachmaninov’s Concerto No 2 in C Minor, introduces the programme. “This classical work explores being lost in one’s thoughts after adversity and the journey from light to dark and back again. Sometimes supported and sometimes alone,” says Isenberg.  

Reverie is a meditative and reflective study. Swathed in a palette of blush pink, it is delirious fanciful musings, in a dreamy state.

Mthuthuzeli November’s Chapter Two, costumed in vibrant hues of pink and red and set to a purpose-commissioned score written by Peter Johnson, is a modern percussive work that is perfectly reflected through the rhythmic body isolations and lightening quick movement vocabulary reminiscent of the precursor of his original Visceral. Chapter Two is a revisit, a place you have been to before, a musing on a previous time.

November’s reinterpretation of this score depicts the emergence and underpinning of his unique African classical choreographic voice.

Says November, “With this new work I am very excited to be back home. I feel inspired by the idea of starting again/picking up where you left off. I’ve grown a lot since my first work to now. The team has been incredible and I can’t wait for us to share the work soon.”

Composer Peter Johnson says, “In the 2024 rendition of the work, I have kept the music true to its origin with a few technical upgrades to the sonic quality.  The work has also been extended since its original version. With the updated score, I hope Chapter Two will bring an enhanced musical experience to the audience.

Michelle Reid’s Smoke costumed in hot red is a metaphor for glowing heat and intense emotion. Reid is widely known for her quirky creative spirit, unique movement language and interpretive skill. A passion for pure jazz music, Reid creates a new take on the iconic Brubeck Take Five, a reference to the rhythmic tempo of the work in a manner that is smooth, graceful and playful. “A classical ballet company can do old school,” says Reid.

Set Design for SALT is by Michael Mitchell, with Lighting Design by Patrick Curtis.

The Cape Ballet Africa Company of dancers are: Camille Bracher, Gabriel Ravenscroft, Gemma Trehearn, Jan Kotze, Joshua Williams, Julia O’Keeffe, Kayla Schultze, Kingsley Beukes, Mia Coomber, Nicolas Laubscher, Nina Simpson and Quinton Jacobs.

Cape Ballet Africa is proud to be associated with Food Lovers’ Market with their commitment to innovation and their values to….have faith, lead with love, be the miracle”.

Cape Ballet Africa is also grateful for the support of The Fine Fund and TDA (Theatre Dance Association).

SALT will be performed from September 21-28, 2024 in the Pam Golding Theatre at The Baxter.

Performances will be on:

September 21 @ 19h30

September 15 @ 19h30

September 26 @ 19h30

September 27 @ 19h30

September 28 @ 15h00 and  @ 19h30

Tickets cost from R200 to R350.

Discount of R30 on block bookings of ten or more and pensioners (bookings at The Baxter with proof of status).

Bookings can be made at Webtickets

For discounted block or schools bookings , charities or fundraisers contact Carmen Kearns on email carmen.kearns@uct.ac.za and Mark Dobson on mark.dobson@uct.ac.za

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Website:  https://capeballetafrica.com/  

Cape Ballet Africa  

Cape Ballet Africa celebrates cultural values imbued through dance, instilling the discipline of classical ballet while blending in the exciting heritage of South African culture. The Company identity strongly aligns with the global dance landscape while building a proudly African organisation.  

Cape Ballet Africa seeks to reimagine how ballet can look in Africa, using the interplay of identity and culture, the diversity in all elements of the artform; the people and the repertory.  

Cape Ballet Africa produces performances that are bold and strongly rooted in the classical ballet technique, with exceptional quality front-and-centre as an inherent part of the artistic identity. It is founded in discipline and self-expression, individuality in teamwork, with a distinctive elegance, refinement and audacious grace.   

Established by highly respected dance figure Debbie Turner, Cape Ballet Africa will, through performance excellence and ongoing professional development of artists, inspire new generations to appreciate an artform that demands much of the human spirit, gives much back to the human spirit and fosters a broad appreciation and following within the African diaspora. Innovation and collaboration are core focuses within the operation of the Company, with unique voices already a hallmark of its daily functioning, both within the cast and the creative minds.  

Education and upskilling of young apprentice professional artists working with more experienced artists will also be a focus for the new company.  

Cape Ballet Africa is honoured to include Dr Connie September, Diane Van Schoor and Thoriso Magongwa as the company’s Patrons.      

Kirsten Isenberg

Kirsten Isenberg studied at the University of Cape Town where she attained a Bachelor of Music in Dance, majoring in Choreography, Classical and Contemporary Dance. She went on to dance for Cape Town City Ballet as well as Bovim Ballet and later was part of the international touring company for Phantom of the Opera.

As a classical, neo-classical and contemporary dance choreographer, Kirsten has created works for various companies and schools such as the Cape Junior Ballet, Cape Academy of Performing Arts, Cape Dance Company, New World Dance Theatre and Cape Town City Ballet. She was also appointed as the first South African commissioned choreographer for the Royal Academy of Dance’s Genée International Ballet Competition in 2011.

Kirsten has previously worked with Cape Town City Ballet as Senior Repetitéur, rehearsing, coaching and staging works by choreographers such as Veronica Paeper, Maina Gielgud and Jiri Kylián. She has also served as choreographer and movement director for Cape Town Opera on their productions of Viardot’s Cendrillon, Verdi’s La Traviata and most recently Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor.

Kirsten serves on the Board of Directors for Cape Junior Ballet Company and was recently appointed Resident Choreographer for Cape Ballet Africa.

Mthuthuzeli November

Mthuthuzeli November is an award-winning choreographer born in Cape Town, South Africa.

Mthuthuzeli started dancing at the age of 15, graduating in 2014. He was awarded a gold medal at the South African International Ballet Competition in 2012 and 2014 in the Best Contemporary category.

Mthuthuzeli created his debut choreographic work in 2014 on the Cape Dance Company. He danced with Cape Dance Company and in a South African production of West Side Story before joining Ballet Black in September 2015.

Since then, he has made multiple award-winning/nominated works for Ballet Black for stage and film, which include the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production for Ingoma. He was awarded South Africa’s Emerging Artist Prize at Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees for his solo work.

Mthuthuzeli has made two works for the Cape Dance Company, Visceral and The Rite of Passage. He created short works for English National Ballet’s Emerging Dancer competition in 2018 and 2020. He also created and danced for British Grime artist, Stormzy, at Glastonbury Festival in 2019.

He created a work commissioned by Cape Town Opera and Cape Town City Ballet for a film production of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater. Mthuthuzeli was also commissioned by The Grange Festival to create a work on the production of Precipice (2020).

Fall For Dance North commissioned a work My Mother’s Son which was performed by him and his brother Siphe November in 2023.

Mthuthuzeli has continued to make works around the world with The Washington Ballet (USA), Royal Ballet (UK), Northern Ballet (UK), Tanz Luzerner Theatre (Switzerland), Cape Town City Ballet (SA), Ballet Zurich (Switzerland) and Charlotte Ballet (USA).

He was nominated for Best Soloist in a Production (Black British Theatre Award) in 2022 and for Best Classical Choreography by the Critics Circle National Dance Awards, for his work The Waiting Game.

Most recently he won Best Choreography for his work Nina: By Whatever Means at the Black British Theatre Awards 2023.

Michelle Reid

South African choreographer and local dance treasure, Michelle Reid is an award-winning seasoned and prolific, choreographer who has a 30 year history of staging working in South Africa.  Michelle is known for her quirky and playful choreography.

Her work has been seen internationally at Festivals such as the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the New Prague Dance Festival, where in 2018, she won the award for Best Choreography for a piece she choreographed for the Jacqui Pells School of Ballet. 

Michelle has staged work for Cape Dance Company, Cape Academy of Performing Arts, Jacqui Pells School of Ballet, Cape Town City Ballet, LAMTA, Cape Junior Ballet and now for the inaugural season of Cape Ballet Africa. 

Peter Johnson

Peter Johnson is a South African based Musician, Composer and Tap Dance Teacher.

Born in Cape Town, he began studying classical piano and tap dancing while at school. He later pursued his love for the piano and spent some time furthering his studies at the University of Cape Town under the guidance of Dr. Franklin Larey.

It was during this time that he decided to broaden his dance studies and he joined the Cape Academy of Performing Arts (CAPA) graduating in 2009 with a Diploma in Musical Theatre and Dance Related Studies. Peter was introduced to vocal studies, drama and dance genres such as ballet, contemporary, Spanish and various other dance techniques under the guidance of Debbie Turner and her faculty. He was privileged to have worked with South African choreographers such as Adele Blank, Ananda Fuchs, Sbonakaliso Ndaba and international choreographers such as Micheal Thomas.

As a self-taught composer, learning all the technical aspects of digital music recording and production, he is actively involved in various projects and collaborations with artists and choreographers.

In 2011 Peter composed his first commissioned work for the Baxter Dance Festival. His first composition with Mthuthuzeli November was Visceral in 2016 and has written further works for him including November’s Ingoma commissioned by Ballet Black,  and Sun commissioned by the Cape Dance Company,  to name a few.

Peter taught tap dancing at Reddam House Constantia with Denise Morrison between 2018 and 2022. He is now a freelance artist, tap dance teacher and musician.

Gender fluid in pink: Cape Ballet Africa presents SALT. Photo by Mthuthuzeli November. Supplied.

Sponsored content. Featured image: Gabriel Ravenscroft, Mia Coomber and Jan Kotze in Cape Ballet Africa’s SALT. Photo by Mthuthuzeli November. Images supplied.