Ricochet News

International inspiration for Bay ballet stars

Mar 15, 2017
International inspiration for Bay ballet stars

Four Port Elizabeth ballet dancers will soon be winging their way to New York, treading in the pointe shoes of the founder of the PE Youth Ballet to spend their mid-year school holidays honing their skills at the sought-after American Academy of Ballet Summer School of Excellence.

Anneke Claassen and Louise Daniel of Pearson High School, Skye Phillips of St Dominic’s Priory and Kate Weakley of Victoria Park High School took on international competition to win scholarships to the American Academy of Ballet (AAB), considered one of the world’s lead dance training grounds. Attendance of its intensive summer school is exclusively by invitation following an audition.

The young dancers, all aged 16, gained insight into the lives of professional international performers when they met up back-stage with members of the Royal Moscow Ballet who were performing at the Opera House in Port Elizabeth this week (14 and 15 March).

The AAB was founded by renowned South African dancer and teacher, the late Mignon Furman, after a career that included dancing leading roles with the University of Cape Town (UCT) Ballet Company, directing the UCT Ballet School, and founding the Cape Town and Port Elizabeth Youth Ballet programmes.

The AAB summer school is attended by dancers from across America and 15 other countries, who assemble on the campus of Purchase College at the State University of New York for up to six weeks of intensive tuition – dancing six days’ a week under the guidance of teachers who are also coaches to some of the dance world’s top performers.

The summer school also offers the young dancers the opportunity to participate in performances, as well as exploring other dance styles such as jazz and Spanish in addition to ballet.

The four ballerinas are all pupils of the Walmer School of Dance run by owner-teacher Troy Coffey.

Coffey, a Royal Academy of Dance registered teacher who has been teaching dance for 24 years, said she was thrilled that the four had all made the grade to attend the summer school.

“Selection for this summer school is rigorous, so it is really an achievement for these four girls to have made the grade,” Coffey said.