International ballet competition

One of the competitors in the the 2018 South African International Ballet Competition. Picture by Pat Bromilow-Downing.


IF YOU are a ballet fan in Cape Town in mid-July you are in for a big treat – the 7th South African International Ballet Competition (SAIBC) will once again take place at the Artscape Opera, from July 13 to 17.

Funding from The National Lotteries Commissions (NLC) supports not only the SAIBC but also the SAIBC’s Training Teachers in the Townships programme, the SAIBC International Ballet Intensives, the International Ballet Gala and various Mzansi Ballet stage productions.

The NLC enables the SAIBC to continue its decade-long commitment to the development of ballet in all communities and to the role that dance plays in the arts and culture sector.

The SAIBC, the only international ballet competition in Africa, is on a par with the top ballet competitions in the world. Competitors are divided into three categories: Scholars aged 12 to 15, Juniors aged 16 to 20 and Seniors aged 21 to 28.

All competitors all required to perform both classical and contemporary variations. At the discretion of the SAIBC management, younger competitors may be given permission to participate. Dancers compete for bronze, silver and gold medals and substantial monetary prizes.

Launched by entrepreneur Dirk Badenhorst in 2008, the biennial SAIBC has cemented itself as the continent’s most prestigious events in its genre, and over the past decade has seen the participation of hundreds of talented dancers from almost every continent in the world. To date the SAIBC has welcomed entrants from Cuba, France, the US, the UK, Japan, South Korea, Russia, Latvia, China, Argentina and Portugal.

A competitor from the 2018 SAIBC. Picture by Pat Bromilow-Downing.

“Ballet competitions around the world are extremely popular with dancers seeking to be noticed by company directors, heads of schools and teachers on the jury panels. The events are thus taken very seriously and for the 2020 event in Cape Town, competitors from China and South Korea have already begun to prepare,” says a spokesman.

This year, the application deadline is June 12.

“As always, the jury panel this year is made up of seven of the most lauded names in the classical ballet industry: Ted Brandsen from Dutch National Ballet in The Netherlands; Annarella Sanchez from the Annarella Sanchez Institute of Ballet & Dance in Portugal; South African Thoriso Magongwa from the National Theatre of Brno in the Czech Republic; Christian Spuck from The Zurich Ballet in Switzerland; Professor Geung Soo KIM, President of the Ballet Society of South Korea; Madame Feng Ing from the National Ballet of China in Beijing; and Martha Iris Fernandez Aguero from the National Ballet School in Cuba.

Now director of Mzansi Ballet and the SAIBC, Dirk Badenhorst, who celebrates 30 years of his involvement in ballet this year, has served on numerous high-level ballet international ballet competition (IBC) jury panels worldwide. Among them are the Shanghai IBC, the Benoise IBC, VKIBC, Sochi International, The Cuban IBC and the Seoul IBC.

“Through his associations within the global dance community, he continues to strengthen ties with the ballet and dance world. His cultural exchange programmes between South African and foreign dance entities are numerous says the spokesman.

“Among his most applauded initiatives is the well-established CuDanSA, a project supported by the Mary Oppenheimer & Daughters Foundation, whereby Cuban ballet teachers work to up-skill local teachers in various communities and in under-resourced township dance schools through the introduction of the internationally acclaimed Cuban ballet training method.”

During the week of the SAIBC, several master classes by members of the jury – three classes a day for the duration of the week-long competition – will also be presented, aimed at sharing world ballet trends and techniques with visiting dancers and teachers from around South Africa and overseas.

Elimination rounds take place from Tuesday, July 14, to Thursday, July 16, at 6pm. The semi-finals are on Friday, July 17, at 7.30pm, and the finals are on Saturday July 18, at 7.30pm.

The Gala that will star the 2020 winners and guest artists is scheduled for 3pm on Sunday, July 19.

Tickets are priced at R150 for the elimination rounds. For the semi-finals, finals and gala, tickets cost from R65 to R260, through (021) 421 7695 and Computicket outlets

Entries close on June 12. For further information and to download the application form visit

The NLC relies on funds from the proceeds of the National Lottery, and the Lotteries Act guides the way in which NLC funding may be allocated. The intention of NLC funding is to make a difference to the lives of all South Africans, especially those more vulnerable and to improve the sustainability of the beneficiary organisations.

Available funds are distributed to registered and qualifying non-profit organisations in the fields of charities; arts, culture and national heritage; and sport and recreation. By placing its emphasis on areas of greatest need and potential, the NLC contributes to South Africa’s development.

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