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The energy and enthusiasm of everyone at the theatre impressed the visiting dancers, who in turn impressed audiences with their dancing.
A THRILLING performance by the Universal Ballet of Korea at the Joburg Theatre enthralled the audience – which included top City officials – at its final performance.

MMC Chris VondoMMC Chris Vondo bowled over by the performanceThe ballet performed Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake over three days, from 16 to 18 March on the complex’s Nelson Mandela Stage, wowing scores of classical ballet fans. It tells the story of Odette, a princess who is turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer’s curse.

The 60-member ballet company, which is based in Seoul, South Korea, did a sterling job of keeping the audience mesmerised, gliding and twisting in mid-air in their snow-white tutus.

Among patrons that were fascinated by the show was Joburg’s portfolio head for community development, Chris Vondo, who brought his family along, and Ruby Mathang, the member of the mayoral committee for development planning and urban management.

After the show, Vondo said he was completely bowled over. Such artistic performances fit well in the framework of the Joburg 2040 Growth Development Strategy, which also focused on promoting art in the city, he added.

Speaking to the visitors and some of the audience after the show, Vondo said it was an honour that on its first visit to South Africa, the dance company chose Joburg Theatre. “Over the years this theatre has staged some of the best productions and today we witnessed yet another world-class production. The City is proud that this theatre attracts such world-class and highly acclaimed performing arts company as the one we have just seen on the stage.”

fromJulia Moon: Impressed with the Joburg TheatreVondo pointed out that the visit was a cultural exchange programme. “These programmes are vital for the enrichment of the souls of citizens of all countries and in this spirit we look forward to the time when our own South African Ballet Theatre [dances] on the majestic stage of Universal Ballet’s home in Seoul.”

Bernard Jay, the theatre’s chief executive, said having shows like these at the theatre honoured the request of Nelson Mandela, who wrote the theatre a letter asking it to welcome the best talent from all over the world to its stages.

Jay also thanked the City for being generous and supporting the theatre. “We have an [mayoral committee member] who is very passionate about theatre and passionate especially about the development of youth,” he said, referring to Vondo.

The energy and enthusiasm of everyone at the theatre impressed the visiting dancers. “When we arrived we could immediately feel the energy that the theatre exudes,” said Julia Moon, the president of the Universal Cultural Foundation of Korea.

Ballerinas glide on stageBallerinas glide on stageShe commended Jay for managing the theatre complex so well and for ensuring that it was well organised. “I think [he] is doing a fantastic job,” she said, adding that they very happy to be the first Korean ballet company to perform in Africa.

“Our performances here are more meaningful to us because this year it’s a 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations between South Africa and South Korea.”

Moon also spoke about a South African word that she had learned some years back from John Kani, the actor, director and playwright, who was speaking at an art conference in New York. “That word is ubuntu,” she said, unsure of the pronunciation although she got it right.

She thanked everybody for showing the spirit of ubuntu. Her dream of coming to Africa had been fulfilled. “It has been a personal dream of mine to visit Africa one day and give something, especially to young children. That dream came true as we performed for kids yesterday and gave them ballet lessons,” she said.

On the day, 60 learners from Prudence Secondary School in Tladi, Soweto, were part of the audience, hosted by the theatre as part of the global initiative, Take a Child To Theatre Today, which takes place around the world on 20 March.

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