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Vicki Karras Tribute

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IN HOMAGE: Tshwane Dance Theatres Redhas Giselle, featuring Mari-Louise Basson and Craig Arnolds. Basson will be performing an extract from her new solo at the gala.

One of the country’s top dance teachers will be honoured and celebrated with the Vicki Karras Tribute, which will showcase new and existing works by women dance-makers and choreographers, all celebrating the legend of this remarkable woman.

The gala will be hosted by Esther Nasser, Karras’ successor as artistic director of Tshwane Dance Theatre, and will be staged in the Arena on March 13 (preview), March 14 (gala performance) and March 15 (matinee).

Karras – a former member of the Royal Ballet, the head of the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) dance and musical theatre department for 20 years, and a founder of Tshwane Dance Theatre – is part of the fabric of dance in this country.

With her husband, Hendrik Davel, she performed with London’s Festival Ballet, Walter Gore’s London Ballet, Jack Carter’s London Dance Theatre, and the Royal Ballet.

The couple returned to South Africa, where their daughter, Anitra, was born. In 1982, Karras joined Technikon Pretoria as a part-time lecturer. In 1988, she became head of department and under her guidance the department became the leading training institution of its kind in the country.

She brought leading pro- fessionals from the industry to TUT, so that the students could receive their invaluable guidance.

But most importantly, and speaking louder than anything else can, through their own success her students bear testi- mony to her achievements.

Hardly a musical is staged that does not have an almost two-thirds representation from TUT, a legacy she is and should be proud of.

She gave many of the great names in local dance their first chance to flex their choreographic muscles. They include Robyn Orlin, Sonje Mayo, Debbie Rakusin and David Matamela, who first initiated the blockbuster African Footprint with the students.

In 2003, Karras founded Tshwane Dance Theatre, with Mandla Mcunu as artistic director. Woman in Dance will showcase new and existing works by women dance-makers and choreographers, all paying tribute to Karras. These collaborators include Adele Blank, Robyn Orlin, Debbie Rakusin, Debbie Turner, and many more. – Tonight Reporter

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