Wednesday, 21 November 2012

SAMB's Manègerie

As I create this post, Ludwig Minkus' irresitible music for Don Quixote floats down the passage from the studio where the dancers are rehearsing for next season's performances of the dazzling Don Q at the Joburg Theatre from 8 to 24 March 2012. Images of the Don and Sancho on their horses are among the most familiar of all images inspired by literature but there are no horses among the first batch of SAMB pets pics we've received. Here they are.
Angela Malan with Febo and Mila. Febo doesn't look convinced. Perhaps the role of lapdog is a bit of against-type casting.
It's a dog's life: Lady gets a kiss from ballerina Shannon Glover.
Chase Bosch and his Bearded Dragon, Calypso, have a heart-to-heart chat.
Calypso smiles for the camera.
Lindé Wessels with her dogs. Lilly takes cover as Jack jétès.
Lindsay McDonald's Ypsilon when new.
And all grown up, Ypsi is still Lindsay's cup of tea.

Life's a beach: Ypsi, Apollo and Lindsay do Umhlanga. 
Lauren Dixon-Seager and Mia.
Chloé Grové with cool, calm and collected Angel.
Having her photo taken makes Chloé's Kitri see yellow. The problem, we're told, is the photographer, Chloé's husband, Jody, with whom Kitri apparantly enjoys a hate-hate relationship. Part of the problem might be that Jody calls Kitri Lucy-Fur and other endearing names which cannot be repeated in polite society. This is one cat, Mr. De Mille, who will never be ready for her close-up.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Dancers' dogs, cats and swans

We’ve asked our South African Mzansi Ballet dancers to gives us photos with their pets but here, to set the stage, are some dancers from further afield with their best friends.

Anna Pavlova with pet swan Jack
ABT star Marcelo Gomes with Lua
Gorgeous Lua, the world's most famous ballet dog
Paris Opera Ballet etoile Marie-Agnes Gillot and companions
Mourka and the great Mr. B share a moment
Bolshoi prima Svetlana Zakharova with poodle
San Francisco Ballet's Garen Scribner with Pilot
(Photo by Quinn Wharton)
Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo's Tamara Toumanova with travelling companion
New York City Ballet's Joaquin De Luz gets an earful
Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo's Hélène Kirsova weighs up her options
Retired British ballerina walks one of her many dogs
Umm ...
Disclaimer: Some photos with this post are from the worldwide web. If the owners of the images feel copyright has been infringed or images inappropriately used, please contact us.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

SAMB plays the Sand

Google Sand Du Plessis and the results will be for schools and a theatre so who Sand Du Plessis is or was, I don’t know. But he lives on in the theatre that bears his name in Bloemfontein, a lighter, more elegant 1985 building than the brutalist (from beton brut, an architectural term meaning, roughly, raw concrete) State Theatre built in Pretoria in the early 1980s. And where our company, South African Mzansi Ballet, opens tonight for a short season of Bloeming ballet. So if you live anywhere within 500 km’s of Bloem, a night at the ballet could be yours.
The Sand Du Plessis, Bloem
SAMB's steamer trunks ready for the trip to Bloem
We live in an exciting age for opera house architecture but one that’s bypassing SA. We have other priorities so building opera houses is on the back burner. Not in St Petersburg though, where the legendary Mariinsky is gearing up to inaugurate a second house adjacent to the historic green building from tsarist times famous as the home of the Mariinsky Ballet, later the Kirov Ballet (Google may not know who Sand DuP was but it knows who Commissar Kirov was), and now the Maryinsky again. Below are images of what is, what may have been, and what will be.
The old(er) Mariinsky, St. Petersburg
Inside the old Mariinsky
An architectural competition a dozen years ago for the new house drew designs from architects around the world. The winner was France’s Dominique Perrault but in the web of Russia's opera house, civic and national intrigue and politics, the winner lost.
Dominique Perrault's modernist "Faberge Egg" new Mariinsky alongside the old opera house.
Perrault's proposed Mariinsky auditorium.
Another competition entry: Facade of US architect Eric Moss' new Mariinsky.
The interior as it would have been in Moss' design.
Now the new Mariinsky, due to open in 2013, is by Canadian firm, Diamond Schmitt Architects (also designers of Toronto’s opera house, the Four Seasons).
The Mariinsky's new house as it will be, by Canadian firm Diamond Schmitt.
Inside the new Mariinsky.
Cousin to the new Mariinsky: Diamond Schmitt's opera house in Toronto. 
In addition to the two opera houses, old and new, that make up the Mariinsky complex, there's also the Mariinsky Concert Hall that opened in 2007, putting the Mariinsky on a par with New York's Lincoln Center.

And if you're in St Petersburg and the Maryinsky's two houses are not doing anything that appeals, you can hot foot it over to the city's third opera house, the Mikhailovsky, where the ballet company is becoming a magnet for some of the world's greatest ballet stars.
The Mikhailovsky's white, red and gold auditorium.
But what ballet companies in the world can match SAMB's own magnificent studios at the Joburg Theatre below? We imagine there can't be many. Or even any.

Disclaimer: Some photos with this post are from the worldwide web. If the owners of the images feel copyright has been infringed or images inappropriately used, please contact us.


Thursday, 11 October 2012

Yvonne Mounsey dies at 93

One of the great SA-born ballet personalities of the past century, Yvonne Mounsey, died at home in Los Angeles, California, on 29 September 2012 aged 93. Ms Mounsey had been battling cancer for several years.


Born Yvonne Leibbrandt in Pretoria in 1919, she started her ballet traning with a former member of Anna Pavlova's company. She moved to Europe in her late teens to continue her training prior to joining the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo before the outbreak of WW2. Stranded in Cuba for a year, she made ends meet by dancing in night clubs.

In the 1940s, Yvonne began her distinguished association with the great choreographer, George Balanchine. Of the many roles she either created or reprised for Balanchine's New York City Ballet, the Siren in Prodigal Son (below) will always be remembered as an exceptional achievement. Mounsey, like most Balanchine dancers, always cited the legendary Mr. B as the single most important influence on her life.

After retiring from the New York City Ballet in 1958, Mounsey returned to SA where she married childhood friend Kelvin Clegg and was a leading mover in the establishment of the Johannesburg City Ballet, forerunner of PACT Ballet.

She and her husband returned to America, settling in Los Angeles where Mounsey’s ballet school became one of the leading privately owned ballet training centres in California as well as being respected throughout the USA and abroad.

Yvonne Mounsey (right) with Dawn Weller (left), artistic director of PACT Ballet, during a visit to SA in the 1990s.

Yvonne Mounsey returned regularly to SA to see her sister and her family, visit PACT Ballet and, on one occasion, head the judging panel of the Sanlam International Ballet Competition. With a personality blending humour, grace and steely strength, being with Yvonne was an intoxicating experience.

A Memorial Service will be held for Yvonne Mounsey at the Wadsworth Theater, Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles on Sunday 14 October at 3pm.

Disclaimer: Some photos with this post are from the worldwide web. If the owners of the images feel copyright has been infringed or images inappropriately used, please contact us.