03 / Joburg Ballet Prima Ballerina Burnise Silvius to Unveil Ballet Heritage Plaque

Joburg Ballet

On Saturday 15 November at 3pm an historical Blue Plaque commemorating the first home of professional ballet in Johannesburg was unveiled by the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation.  The unveiling was performed by Joburg Ballet prima ballerina Burnise Silvius in the presence of invited guests, the public and some of the original Johannesburg City Ballet dancers.

The Blue Plaque will be affixed to the last remaining building of the Parktown Boys’ Preparatory School the use of which, in 1960, was given by the City of Johannesburg to the newly formed Johannesburg City Ballet. In 1963, this ballet company formed the nucleus of PACT Ballet following the creation of the South African performing arts councils.  The ballet company relocated in 1981 from Johannesburg to the State Theatre Pretoria until the “mothballing” of the State Theatre Pretoria in June 2000.

Burnise Silvius

Joburg Ballet’s Burnise Silvius in SWAN LAKE 2015
Photo by Lauge Lorensen

Burnise Silvius and Claudia Monja

Burnise Silvius and Claudia Monja dancing in Joburg Ballet's
Swan Lake 2015 Photo by Lauge Lorensen

Six dancers, refusing to accept defeat, then formed The South African Ballet Theatre (SABT).  In 2012 SABT merged with Mzansi Productions to create a new company, South African Mzansi Ballet, based at the Joburg Theatre.  In 2013 this company received a sustainable funding grant from the City of Johannesburg and the company’s name was changed to Joburg Ballet to reflect this support.

Linking the present and the past, Joburg Ballet’s spiritual home is being commemorated as the true first home of professional ballet in the City.

The driving force behind the commemorative plaque at Trematon Place is Michael Hobson who has had a longstanding interest in and support for ballet in Johannesburg and South Africa.  Commenting on the Blue Plaque, Mr Hobson said: “The plaque connects us to an important part of our cultural history and to the beginnings of professional ballet in Johannesburg. Ballet has a long and distinguished history in our city and is a heritage we should honour while at the same time moving forward in a dynamic and changing cultural landscape. It is fitting that Joburg Ballet’s prima ballerina Burnise Silvius is unveiling the plaque. This great dancer is a living link between the past, present and future, and an acclaimed role model for our younger generations of dancers.”

Joburg Ballet China Tour Showcase

Goodbye Havana Beijing here we come
Goodbye Havana, Beijing here we come: Joburg Ballet’s Burnise Silvius, Lindé Wessels and Jonathan Rodrigues acknowledge
the applause during their recent gala performances in Cuba Photo by Lauge Lorensen

South Africa took centre stage in the People’s Republic of China in November when Joburg Ballet toured a showcase of classical ballet and contemporary dance to Beijing, Shanghai and Liaoning Province as part of the China-South Africa Year ceremonies.