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

Amy Gould


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!

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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

Theatre on the Bay