Catch Rising Ballet Star in Coppelia

Cape Times (South Africa), May 6, 2008 | Go to article overview

Catch Rising Ballet Star in Coppelia


BYLINE: WILHELM SNYMAN

CITY audiences will soon be able to see one of our rising ballet stars in action when Coppelia opens at Artscape next Tuesday.

Andile Ndlovu, who will dance the role of Franz opposite Cape Town City Ballet's Laura Rosenberg, started his career at 14 when he started doing Latin ballroom dancing.

After moving from Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal to Soweto as a child, he started receiving ballet training from master Martin Schonberg.

"At 14 I decided I needed ballet training to make me stronger for my Latin dance training.

"I wasn't really interested in making it (ballet) a career until five months later, when I fell in love with it.

"When I started I saw a guy called Carlo Acosta dancing. (Acosta, the Cuban-born sensation, has danced for the National Ballet of Cuba, the Royal Ballet, Houston Ballet and the English National Ballet). Since then, I was hooked."

Says Ndlovu: "It just feels good for you, for your heart, just dancing for people."

The historical aspect of dance motivates Ndlovu very much. "For me, it's historic as well. You have to know how the 18th century people used to dance. It's a learning experience - you read a lot of books, watch a lot of videos."

Ndlovu regards Baryshnikov and Nureyev, as well as Acosta, as mentors.

"I always thought ballet was only for girls," he says, but soon changed his mind about that.

Regarding the shortage of male dancers in South Africa, Ndlovu feels that the shortage arises from South Africa's male dancers making careers for themselves overseas.

Ndlovu receives every encouragement from his mother, herself a Latin ballroom dancer, and regularly attends his performances.

Initially, Ndlovu says, he found the various movements the body has to make in ballet rather strange, but he became accustomed to it "and I got into it very religiously. Martin Schonberg really gave me the training.

"It was the way he teaches, so that you love what you do and you carry on doing it. He explains to you where a given step comes from, how a particular step was created."

Also, Ndlovu seems to thrive on the rigour of his training: "Instead of teachers telling me 'You lovely boy, you're doing fine, don't worry, take it easy', I had teachers who said, 'No, you're rubbish. Come back tomorrow and we can work on it some more'. When I have someone telling me, 'You're not doing this right', then I have something to work on. …

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