I was transported away again and again this past week as I watched all but one of the six performances of the absolutely enchanting season of the Johannesburg Youth Ballet’s Peter Pan: The Ballet. “It was a magical performance, “good enough to tour” said a prominent ballet personality and not just as a youth performance but good enough to compete with a professional company.
A friend of mine told me that one of her companions had asked “Gee – how old is Walter’s daughter?” and was absolutely amazed to find that she is only 13 and the same age as the young artiste dancing as Tinkerbelle, they appeared so accomplished and so mature. In fact it’s a huge shock to realise when they leave the stage that these are only children.
The Joburg Youth Ballet is a not for profit body run as a professional Ballet Company. The dancers are the best of Jozi who have all been auditioned for their membership. There is also an outreach program that brings in talented dancers from the Kasi. Its been around for 35 years and totally ignored the political issues of race from day one, in fact was the first completely non- racial group to represent South Africa overseas.
Peter Pan is the Johannesburg Youth Ballet ‘s(JYB) own ballet, based on J.M. Barrie’s fantastic story of Peter Pan. It was specially choreographed by it’s famous alumni Mark Hawkins, with artistic director alumni Kate Martins and used the beautiful music composed by Gerry Bosman for the UCT Ballet and which had not been heard for 30 years until the hand written score was unearthed for the show
But those are just facts.
Day after day and hour after hour I could not help be taken on a journey of fantasy as Peter Pan flew off, as Tinkerbelle died and was brought back to life by the audience reaffirming their belief in fairies clapping and words ” I do believe in fairies! I do! I do” being shouted from the audience in deep mature male voice. The meetings of red Indian’s and pirates, the pitched battle on the pirate ship fought with swords and a teddy bear, and the enchanting mermaids dance.
This show was a triumph for South Africans and the youth of the adolescent mining town that Johannesburg still is. It proves that there a seam of talent to match the richest gold seams underground.
The picture in this article is of my daughter Kathryn. I know that its not just that its “your job as a Dad” as she teases me that makes me miss the rush to the UJ arts centre theatre each evening. I think its simply because in truth “All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.”