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SOUTH AFRICAN DANCE. CAPE TOWN CITY BALLET. BACKGROUND. 1934 Dulcie Howes began her own ballet school (This year is 70 th anniversary) 1937 UCT Ballet School linked to College of Music . 1963 Performing Arts Councils set up by government to promote the Arts - became CAPAB Ballet Company

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south african dance



  • 1934 Dulcie Howes began her own ballet school (This year is 70th anniversary)
  • 1937 UCT Ballet School linked to College of Music.
  • 1963 Performing Arts Councils set up by government to promote the Arts - became CAPAB Ballet Company
  • Moulded on the British system. Many dancers went to Royal ballet
  • Colonial, lavish productions on the Nico Malan Opera House Stage - 60 dancers
  • 1969 David Poole became Director. Influenced by Ninette de Valois, Frederick Ashton and Royal Ballet.
  • Poole encouraged young choreographer, Veronica Paeper who became resident choreographer in 1974 and director in 1990.
  • Currently directed by Professor Elizabeth Triegaardt
political and cultural influences
Political and Cultural influences
  • Strongly influenced by British Ballet
  • Modelled on British training system
  • Eurocentric, focused on classics
  • During apartheid era white only company performing in white’s-only theatre
  • Choreography did not reflect lives of South Africans
company style and approach
Company style and approach
  • Limited by apartheid policies
  • Audience supported well known classical ballets
  • New ballets less popular
  • David Poole tried to introduce African themes and started to train black dancers though his township project – today run by Phyllis Spira and Phillip Boyd – Dance for All
  • 1994 funding ceased and became Cape Town City Ballet (22 dancers)
  • Began to commission South African choreographers and other dance forms
  • Phyllis Spira and Gary Burne were the most well-known dancers
  • Mzonke Jama was the first black ballet dancer
  • John Simon, Elizabeth Triegaardt, Eduard Greyling, Keith Macintosch and many other well-known dancers over the years


Many classics such as Sleeping Beauty, Coppèlia, Romeo and Juliet, Le Sylphide, Raymonda, Giselle, Nutcracker, Swan Lake and many more – check their website!

orpheus in the underworld
Orpheus in the Underworld
  • Choreographed by Veronica Paeper
  • Music by Jaques Offenbach
  • Based on Offenbach’s operetta
  • Performed at Artscape Theatre
Orpheus in the Underworld is a highly comical ballet based on the Greek legend of Pluto, god of the Underworld, who falls in love with Eurydice, wife of Orpheus, and lures her to his kingdomSynopsis
Paeper has based her ballet on Jacques Offenbach's operetta and sets the action in the 1920's with Pluto as the head of a Mafia-type underworld


orpheus in the underworld14
Orpheus in the Underworld
  • Orpheus' mother, Calliope, cast as “Public Opinion”
  • .
the story act 1 hotel le grand
The Story:Act 1 : Hotel le Grand
  • Orpheus and Eurydice's marriage is not happy, so that when Pluto seduces and abducts Eurydice both she and Orpheus are delighted. However, when Calliope, Orpheus's mother, arrives and discovers what has happened, she is very shocked and demands, in the interest of mythology, that Orpheus goes to Olympus to seek assistance in claiming back Eurydice from the Underworld. Naturally, his mother insists on accompanying him.
act 2 olympus
Act 2 : Olympus
  • On Olympus life is a little boring and when Pluto reveals his latest conquest, Eurydice, it offers a welcome though somewhat unsettling divertion. Orpheus and Calliope arrive and Jupiter assents to her request for aid, whereupon all the gods and godesses decide to accompany them to Hades, the Underworld.
act 3 hades
Act 3 : Hades
  • Eurydice is now the star of the Underworld's night club. Just when all are enjoying themselves, Calliope spoils their fun by reminding Jupiter of their purpose. He commands Orpheus to leave, followed by Eurydice. But Offenbach intervenes and everything is thrown into confusion
All photographs and information taken from the Cape Town City Ballet websiteat