The Johannesburg Youth Ballet’s 40th Anniversary Gala season will be celebrated in style at The Mandela, Joburg Theatre from 14 to 16 October with A Midsummer Night’s Dream & Other Ballets.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, choreographed by Mark Hawkins, is given expansive wings by his delightfully zany ’re-imagining’ of the Shakespearean comedy and his skilful choreography, and is further enhanced by the lighting design by professional designer Nicholas Michaletos and the set and costume design by the internationally acclaimed designer Andrew Botha, who has given the “visions” “form and feature”. The spectacular designs for both sets and costumes are as fresh and innovative as when Hawkins first dreamed his “Midsummer Night’s Dream” about 20 years ago.

Premiered by his Fantastic Flying Fish Dance Company in 1997, the ballet was aptly described as “a froth of classical dance and comedy”. It successfully toured Taiwan in 1999 and earned principal dancer, Mary Ann de Wet the Nederburg Ballet prize for her exquisite interpretation of Titania. And in the serendipitous circle of celebrations, de Wet has made herself available to teach and guide the young dancers of JYB for this milestone season

Hawkins, well known for his innovative work, has cleverly integrated actors into the ballet narrative. “The work moves from the contemporary to the most imaginative of fantasy worlds – psychedelic dancing fairies link the world of the confused lovers to the feuding Titania and Oberon, the King and Queen of the Fairy realm. They dance through their dream and awaken with all their jealousies resolved and safely behind them. The actors find themselves transformed and enchanted, always at the behest of the fearless Puck,” he says. “The ballet culminates in a finale that will be remembered long after the curtain falls as the mercurial Puck, the mastermind of the magnificent chaos, reaches out in friendship.”

“If we shadows have offended,

Think but this, and all is mended,

That you have but slumber’d here

While these visions did appear.

And this weak and idle theme,

No more yielding but a dream.”

The programme also features Garlands, from The Sleeping Beauty (a ballet first performed in 1890 to the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky) a 40th Anniversary ’re -invention’ by Kate Retief, who brings her distinctive choreographic touch to this greatly loved waltz.

An exciting and topical new contemporary work, LOOK UP, choreographed by Shanell Winlock Pailman and Nicholas Aphane completes the celebratory line-up. LOOK UP, danced to the stirring music of Hans Zimmer’s Time Suite, is inspired by the digital age, conformity and the impact that new technology has on socialisation, interpersonal communication and relationships.  “‘Looking up’ is that universal sense in knowing where you want to go, who you address and how you relate to the world and people around you – but these days our smart phones talk for us and connect us without us having to ‘look up’ very often and so we spend less and less time making physical contact or eye contact. LOOK UP explores the need for physical touch, conversation, personal confrontation or even the formation and patterns created by us throughout the day”, says Winlock-Pailman.

The JYB was founded by Audrey King in 1976 and has the distinction of being the oldest youth company in South Africa. Over the past 40 years it has given well over 1500 young dancers from the greater Johannesburg region an opportunity to be a part of a professionally run company and to experience the dynamics of performing in an annual season.

The Johannesburg Youth Ballet is a proud and grateful recipient of National Arts Council Company funding and extends warm thanks and acknowledgement to the NAC, as well as its media partner, Creative Feel magazine.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream & Other Ballets runs from 14 to 16 October at the Mandela, Joburg Theatre.

Performance times: Friday 14 October – Gala Opening at 19h30; Saturday 15 October and Sunday 16 October at 11h00 and 15h00.

Tickets: R100 – R120 – for tickets call 0861 670 670 or visit www.joburgtheatre.com (block bookings are available) or at the Joburg Theatre box office OR online at www.webtickets.co.za / patrons can also book and pay via the Nedbank app and at selected Pick n Pay stores (full list at www.webtickets.co.za/pnpoutlets.aspx)

For further information please visit www.jyb.co.za or email devar@iafrica.com

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