THE seventh South African International Ballet Competition (SAIBC), now an online event for the first time, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, has attracted a record number of entries from 28 countries.
The biennial competition has attracted its largest competitor enrolment since inception in 2008, with 155 dancers representing 28 countries – including South Africa, Peru, Kenya, Australia, Eswatini, Mexico, Spain, Portugal, Nigeria, Switzerland, Holland, Cuba, China, New Zealand, South Korea, the UK, America, Germany, Malaysia, Italy, Czech Republic, Brazil, Argentina, Latvia, Belgium, Colombia, Venezuela and Bulgaria.
“Going online has given us a phenomenal opportunity to reach dancers in every corner of the globe with internet access, and to have this many dancers participating is a thrill,” said SAIBC founder and CEO Dirk Badenhorst, the visionary behind the initiative that has received funding support from the Western Cape Government and the National Lotteries Commission (NLC).
Another unique aspect to this year’s online event is that it will be presented via an app – ArtOfLife – available as a free download on the Google Play Store from July 6 and accessible on mobile, laptop, tablet or desktop.
ArtOfLife is a comprehensive Theatre and Entertainment app that will ultimately load participating theatres around the world on one platform, and the SAIBC is one of the events that will run through it.
Aside from the competition being presented through the app – hailed as a global first – the SAIBC will also host a series of free daily panel discussions attended by members of the Jury and some of the ballet world’s most prolific experts, artistic directors of companies and schools, and heads of outreach and development projects across Africa.
This marks the first time an international ballet competition has been a conduit for crucial conversations around ballet in Africa and the world, dance companies and schools criteria, employment, ballet as PTSD therapy, training during Lockdown and gender equality.
The SAIBC is honoured to have guest speakers such as Tamara Rojo, Julio Bocca and Aurélien Scannella offer insight into these issues facing professional ballet dancers, scholars, teachers, mentors, parents and guardians today. (Opinions expressed do not reflect those of the SAIBC and its affiliates).
Dancers will compete in three categories that will be judged by different members of the Jury Panel. Adjudicating the Scholars (ages 12 to 15) will be Martha Iris, Charlene Carey, Professor Kim, Christoph Böhm and Annarella Sanchez.
Ted Brandsen, Madame Feng Ying, Runqiao Du, Roberta Martins and Thoriso Magongwa will adjudicate for the Juniors (ages 16 to 20), and the full jury for the Seniors (ages 21 to 28).
The awards – monetary prizes as well as bursaries, scholarships and intensives –will be announced immediately after the final competition round on July 18: R10 000 for the best classical entrant (male and female) in each category and R5 000 for the best contemporary entrant (male and female) in each category.
Every day, viewers will be able to vote for their favourite dancer in the Audience Choice Award category that carries a prize of $100. The competition panel will assess prize-winners by an evaluation process and there will be no elimination rounds this year.
Another invaluable component that has not been offered before is the Jury feedback. That will be pre-recorded and shared with subscribers and contestants immediately after the classical and contemporary solos.
Competitors will each perform a classical repertoire solo and a contemporary and Badenhorst has also allowed dancers to enter just with a contemporary variation to accommodate those who have had a particularly difficult time training during lockdown.
The competition starts at 2pm on Monday, July 13 (CAT), and closes on July 18 with the final round, prize-giving and a spectacular gala starring dancers from across the world.
A week’s subscription (all access) which includes the daily ballet classes, daily panel discussions, the competition and the gala will cost $99 or R900. A one- day subscription to the same will cost $20 or R200. Ballet classes cost $10 or R100 per class.
Free-to-view panel discussions will be hosted as ZOOM webinars and live-streamed to the SAIBC Facebook page – web.facebook.com/groups/saibc –where attendees can make comments and ask question fielded for the panelists consideration. A replay will be posted on the same page once the panel discussion is over.
All subscriptions can be purchased through the ArtOfLife app (written as one word), available for free download on the Google Play Store via https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.artoflife .
The 2020 competition has received funding from the Western Cape Provincial Government and the National Lotteries Commission.