'Swan Lake' Takes Budget Cuts in Its Step

Article excerpt

SWAN LAKE: Presented by Cape Town City Ballet. Choreography after Petipa, Ivanov and Bour-meister. Produced by Elizabeth Triegaardt after the original 1971 staging by Atillo Labis. Recorded music by Tchaikovsky. Lighting Sha-miel Abrahams. SHEILA CHISHOLM reviews Saturday's matinee and evening performances. At Artscape until Sunday.

IT was Professor William Henry Bell's invitation 75 years ago to Dulcie Howes to join his staff at the College of Music to teach ballet that led to remarkable far-reaching effects on our city's balletic scene.

Backed by her students, staff and occasionally dipping into her junior ballet school, Howes founded the UCT Ballet company which presented a wide repertoire to a devoted public.

The UCT Ballet company's successes led to the formation of the professional Capab Ballet company in 1963. And, when Capab's circumstances changed in 1997 Cape Town City Ballet (CTCB) was founded.

So for Elizabeth Triegaardt to state CTCB is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year is slightly misleading. What CTCB is honouring is their long and illustrious roots to Howes's UCT Ballet company.

With this Swan Lake production the circle linking CTCB to the UCT Ballet company is now complete.

As Howes could not rely solely on her staff (for staff, read professional dancers) to present productions without drawing on her students to boost her corps de ballet, so it seems that CTCB, with its greatly diminished numbers, is unable to mount a full scale production without drawing on UCT School of Dance students, the Cape Junior Ballet and Jikeleza dancers.

That, in itself, is not necessarily a bad thing, except it brings into question whether CTCB is either South Africa's premier professional ballet company or has it become a semi-professional one?

That is not to be debated here, but it is a question that needs to be fully addressed if classical ballet is to survive at a professional level in Cape Town.

Swan Lake is always a drawcard. The story of good overcoming evil, the enchanted swan maidens, the two "white" acts between the colourful castle garden and the ballroom scenes danced to Tchai-kovsky's glorious (if at times distorted) recorded music make this the most magical of ballets.

Producer Triegaardt must be commended on achieving the standard she did from her mix of professional and non-professional dancers, with special merit to the act-one Polonaise by Jikeleza dancers. …