When a classic dance company reinvented itself across a span of twenty-one years into Joburg Ballet, it was not just to survive, but to thrive in a new era. Now, Ballet Mistress Lauren Slade can say with pride, it’s mission accomplished.

Joburg Ballet began with the establishment of South African Ballet Theatre in 2001. Through the collective efforts of six dancers, the company was started and began presenting performances. One of those founding dancers was Lauren Slade.

“I’ve been with this fabulous company for 21 years,” she explains, “when Joburg Ballet opened, I was one of the founding dancers and it’s an absolute accolade that we’re here to celebrate this special anniversary.”

On the back of winning last year’s Naledi Theater award for best production, the company is following up with an audience favorite: La Traviata – The Ballet.

“We are staging La Traviata – The Ballet, our very first full length three act ballet since the pandemic hit the world, Joburg Ballet definitely survived the COVID pandemic due to passion,” she says. A popular and relatable story at heart, La Traviata – The Ballet already proved a hit in the UK.

“The plot of La Traviata – The Ballet is based on an opera, but before the opera, came a book by Alexandre Dumas based on a little incident in his life where he met this beautiful courtesan lady, Camille and fell madly in love with her,” explains Choreographer Veronica Paeper.

The moving portrait of a woman who sacrifices it all for the man she loves is performed by the dancers of the Joburg Ballet with the roles of Camille and Armand performed by three sets of principal dancers on different days.

The music and the story together inspired me to create the ballet, theatre is there to be entertaining, either you come to laugh and have fun or you come to be terribly moved and cry,” says Veronica. Nicole Ferreira-Dill and Armando Barros live to breathe life into such dramatic lead roles.

“Ballet is an art form that you don’t speak, there’s no words during a show so we literally tell everything with hands, movements and emotion,” explains Armando Barros. In addition to the professional company, Joburg Ballet operates development and outreach programmes that are changing the narrative of ballet in South Africa.

“Ballet has evolved so much and has broken down so many barriers over the last few years, I feel that dancers here dance from a place where it is more than just steps, it’s a feeling, and I think that’s why it’s important to keep ballet alive inside South Africa because it can take you around the world and introduce you to new cultures, new people,” explains Revil Yon.

La Traviata – The Ballet runs for eight performances at the Joburg Theatre from the first to the 10th of July. And for your chance to win a set of double tickets, visit The Insider SA’s social media channels.

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