ImagineMag May/June

imaginemag - arts & culture emagazine | may / jun 2010 : edition 04

My name is Kloey Bam. I started attending ballet classes when I was 4 years old and have continued dancing throughout my school years. This year I will matriculate at the age of 17 at the Academy of Maths and Science in Constantia Cape Town. I love my dancing and have worked hard to do the very best I can in this beautiful and most physically and mentally demanding art form.

Whilst this is the very personal story of one of my dancers it is a story that is possibly mirrored in many other ballet schools around the world and not only in South Africa. The question that lurks in all our minds is – where to now? Where do classically trained dancers get work that will provide a reasonable income that they can actually survive on and not live off the largess of their family and friends? Dancers need a company to provide the infrastructure in order for them to survive. Yes it can be a case of, have body will travel, as the dancers body is their instrument. But that instrument needs to be nurtured and constantly trained to stay at peak performance level. It also has to be fed and clothed and when necessary medicated and treated.

Kloey Bam at her Matric Ball

Kloey at her Matric Ball in 2010 © ImagineMag!

One is constantly reading and hearing of ballet companies facing closure, of funding that has been cut or not paid. Of businesses/organisations that do not want to subsidize ballet companies and so the stories of woe continue. Not only ballet companies but the many NGOs that are constantly claiming that business, the government, the private sector in fact anyone who has money must support them. My question is why?

Why should anyone support us to do what we have chosen and want to do unless we can provide and prove there is a social and/or a financial benefit, preferably both, to them? So instead of complaining of lack of funding, let us focus on what we do have to offer and what it is business and everyone else will benefit from by supporting ballet training and then possibly they might be more interested in assisting us in developing ballet careers and professional dance companies.

Kloey Bam in Indigneous Sleeping Beauty

Kloey as Aurora in Dance Crew’s 2009 production of ‘An Indigneous Sleeping Beauty' © ImagineMag!

When Kloey first started ballet she soon discovered it was not all about beautiful costumes, lollipops and roses. Recently we were reminiscing about the years we have spent working together, about the tears we both shed in the course of her training, strangely enough as we discovered, for the same reasons. We both wanted her to get it just right! I always knew she could achieve what I wanted her to do. I could see she had the most perfectly suitable body for ballet, a very strong and intelligent mind and possibly the most important quality for a dancer – a natural musicality. It also helped enormously that she had highly disciplined and hard working parents who supported and encouraged her in this long and at times painful process.

The problems she experienced, which most dancers do, is the difference between knowing in your brain what your body has to and wants to do but not being able to physically achieve it. The very quality that you want in an artist, sensitivity to their emotions also works against them in the daily grind of class. The constant correction and critical analysis of their work no matter how tactfully done is a constant source of irritation when they know what has to be done, but their body simply has not got the strength, or the speed or whatever is needed at that particular moment, to do. Once they come to the realization that it will be a lifelong process of learning and improving, training proceeds more smoothly. And that is precisely what happened with Kloey and many like her in my school.

When she was 15 we invited her to join Dance Crew company classes and rehearsals with the admonishment that she stay in the back and not interrupt the flow of the class. This she achieved so admirably that it was not too long before she could keep up with the more senior dancers. Her skill of instant sequential learning and total recall of everything she learns was an enormous plus. One area that was always a cause for concern was her limited emotional and expressive qualities. Her technique developed rapidly and accurately but was not being matched by her self expression and her ability to show that very joy of the dance that she freely acknowledged but seemed unable to express when in performance. There were

times when she all but appeared emotionally sterile. But we persevered and had many creative hours of training in this regard.

And then the company hit a problem. The dancer who was to take the role of Sleeping Beauty left the country shortly before we were due to start our 2009 season. Being a small company and already using some of the dancers from the school to supplement our numbers because of the scale of this production we had to face a difficult situation. We had to postpone the production and replace the dancer but with who? Some of the dancers who could have taken over the role were not available for the season. And then I made the decision. I knew technically Kloey could handle the role but emotionally? I was not sure but perhaps now was a good time to find out. Kloey was 16 and in Grade 11 at the time. Without even consulting her I announced at a company rehearsal the position we were in and what I had decided to do. Then I asked Kloey if she would do it. Without batting an eyelash she said yes. From that moment she worked with determination of purpose that was impressive. She worked out her school program, homework needs and when she could be available for extra rehearsals if I or her partner had time for her. Every dancer involved in the production assisted and supported her. Her good fortune was in having such a strong and supportive partner for the double work. But it was her mind-set and the application of incredible hard work that she achieved the standard of performance that she did. Saying that she rose to the occasion will never do justice to what she achieved in performance. She simply blossomed with the challenge. Her acting combined with technical achievement reached a standard that many did not begin to think was possible.

And the point – as I am fond of saying when someone tells me a story that gets too long winded?

What ever path Kloey chooses to follow in the future I am sure dancing will play a part. The work ethic and strength of purpose she acquired in her home and our school and company is beyond price. As a future member of the labour force no matter her field of choice she will play a hardworking and vital role. She and the other dancers brought new meaning to the rather clichéd words `team spirit and commitment’.

Kloey Bam in Indigneous Sleeping Beauty

Kloey as Aurora in Dance Crew’s 2009 production of ‘An Indigneous Sleeping Beauty' © ImagineMag!

Ballet training is a discipline that requires concentration, focus and co-ordination – young people need these qualities now more than at any other time in the past. Developing commitment to their work and fellow workers is what is needed everywhere and that good old fashioned – work ethic. And these are only the by-products of what strong ballet training provides. Qualities that everyone who employs staff places great value on when recruiting – dedication, concentration, focus and that ability to go not only the distance required but that extra mile in order to achieve the end result.

The end result – an audience who enjoyed every minute of the performances and who repeatedly returned - and the creation of a role model of excellence which every one of our students is attempting to emulate. That is what ballet and dance companies are about. Job satisfaction after hard work, working with others for the common good and the achievement of a positive outcome for everyone and a dance company’s ability to provide thought provoking and enjoyable entertainment.

These are the reasons we feel ballet, whether it is for training or for productions, are worthy of support. Should you be interested in finding out more you may contact us at the following:

Dance Crew
Section 21Pty Ltd Reg. No. 2002/014128/08
PBO No. 930003191 | NPO No 057 - 038

1 Church Road, Tokai-on-Main 7945
Tel: 021-715 9510
Email: dancecrew@theatreonmain.co.za

Amy Gould

Sign

Amy Gould is a Fellow of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing. She is the principal and owner of her full time ballet school, director and choreographer of her dance company Dance Crew, owner/manager of Tokai On-Main a 100-seater intimate theatre and editor in chief of ImagineMag!


ACT logo

01 / the ACT Scholarship Programme is expanding:

Joining the Dramatic Artistic and Literary Rights Organisation (DALRO), Nedbank has come on board in support of the ACT Scholarship Programme. The Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) is delighted that the Scholarship Programme will double its output in 2010 by awarding two performing arts scholarships to learners in their final year of secondary education who wish to pursue undergraduate studies in the performing arts at an accredited tertiary institution. Read the full story...


02 / keys & other interesting words:

Key

A key is defined as an instrument for locking and unlocking a door, a cupboard, a motor car etc. But the word itself also suggests an opening, an interpretation, an answer, freedom, independence or authority. And what of words such as raglan or cardigigan. Read the full story...


URBO: The Adventures of Pax Afrika

03 / clockwork zoo:

Five years ago the Clockwork Zoo animation studio started with six staff and the dream of creating a weekly half-hour animated series. Local and international producers told us it was impossible. Despite this, the team brainstormed our producer Sean Rogers’ idea of a group of kids stuck in a post-apocalyptic Cape Town and created URBO: The Adventures of Pax Afrika. Read the full story...


04 / direct your own animated movie:

A kind of animation that anyone can make is called a FLIPBOOK - all you’ll need is a cool but simple idea, about 60 pages of paper (or a school exercise book) and pens or pencils. Read the full story...


Gemeng

05 / breaking through the
language barrier - “kaapse afrikaans”:

“Kaaps”… a language that is frowned upon and labelled as non-standard (as a result of a political ideology), has become a contentious issue in Afrikaans language circles. Read the full story...


06 / buttons:

How often, when dressing or even just examining a garment, do you look at the buttons on the item you are about to wear or buy? In passing do you think what useful objects buttons are or of their progression through time? Read the full story...


City Breath

07 / city breath:

Four South African cities, twenty experimental films, four minutes each. The long-awaited CITY BREATH Festival of Video Poetry and Performance comes to Cape Town with two screenings at the Labia Cinema on Orange Street, before moving on to Main Street Life in Johannesburg and the National Arts Festival later this year. Read the full story...


08 / ancestor roles:

WELCOME to each and every visitor and all the team players and the officials accompanying the teams to South Africa for the 2010 FIFA Football World Cup. We hope you will enjoy visiting South Africa and that you will return in the future. Read the full story...


Blaq Pearl

09 / badilisha live:

The Africa Centre’s Badilisha Poetry X-Change presented its Live line-up. On Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd May 2010, a stellar ensemble of five talented local and international poets gathered at the Cape Town City Hall to bring a wave of word and sound to a new Cape Town winter. Read the full story...


edition. 04 contributors

Larissa Fainberg is a freelance arts and culture writer living in Johannesburg, with a particular interest in the dynamic, up and coming visual arts scene which South Africa has to offer. She has a BA Humanities in History of Art and Philosophy from The University of the Witwatersrand.

Liezel Vermeulen is a Line producer at Clockwork Zoo, Africa’s biggest animation company, specialising in facilitating international animation series. Prior to this she lectured in television at Rhodes University and worked at a documentary film company. She is passionate about education, media and the arts.

Madge du Preez retired 4 years ago. She is a motivational speaker, trainer, mentor and writer. She values a core ideology which supports the notion of innovation, skills development, values and a purpose-driven vision.

Dawn Gould (D Litt et Phil), owns and runs FACTS FOUND  an historical research bureau situated in Cape Town, South Africa. 
For further details see  factsfound.isat.co.za



Theatre on the Bay