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Dance chance of a lifetime

Late August promises rich rewards for Cape Town ballet-lovers when the perennially enchanting Swan Lake, staged by Cape Town City Ballet, features guest artists Daria Klimentova and Vadim Muntagirov in two of its six performances at Artscape.

Both are luminaries of London’s English National Ballet company, and there is another reason for Klimentova’s presence in Cape Town: she will attend the award evening on August 21 that will determine the recipients of the Prague Scholarship, which offers an intensive two-week course for classical ballet dancers in the Czech capital, taught by professional dancers still at the height of their careers. Klimentova directs the annual event, known as the Prague International Ballet Masterclass.

Vadim Montagirov and Daria Klimentova dance Swan Lake

This award is linked to the Keith Mackintosh Scholarship Fund, established six years ago by the former principal dancer and ballet master of Capab Ballet, now Cape Town City Ballet.

Mackintosh says his purpose in creating the fund is to support young, emerging classical ballet dancers of talent who could benefit from international exposure and experience.

“Having enjoyed a successful career in the world of ballet myself, I want to contribute to the success of others by assisting their development.”

Mackintosh’s association with Klimentova goes back to the early 1990s, when she joined Capab Ballet for a year following her win at the Sanlam International Ballet Competition in Pretoria.

“I never actually partnered her on stage – I’d recently retired, and when she was a very young dancer in Capab I was making occasional guest appearances in roles like Escamillo in Carmen. But we became friends, and have remained so ever since.”

Mackintosh is not the only friend Klimentova will see again on her visit to Cape Town; the three adjudicators on the panel serving on the evening of August 21 to decide the Prague scholarship winners are former colleagues and friends – Carol Kinsey, Johan Jooste and Janet Lindup. “They were senior, established dancers in the company when Daria joined,” says Mackintosh.

“The award evening starts with a ‘class’ on stage conducted by Lynn Wallis, who is another celebrity – artistic director of the Royal Academy of Dance. Then there will be a short performance by some wonderful guest dancers, like Vadim Muntagirov, who will have appeared as the lead of Swan Lake the night before; he’s doing the male variations from Le Corsaire on our evening.

“There will also be contributions from Maxime Quiroga of the Vienna State Ballet, who won the 2010 Istanbul International Ballet Competition, and is also guesting in Swan Lake (the pas de trois male variations) – and our own Mlindi Kulashe, now studying at the English National Ballet School.”

Mackintosh is especially proud to have Kulashe perform since he was the first recipient of the Keith Mackintosh Scholarship Fund in 2008.

There are two awards on offer at the competition: one for an established classical ballet dancer under the age of 24, and one for a pre-professional classical ballet dancer over 16.

Mackintosh says all six competitors in the first category are from Cape Town City Ballet, while the eight pre-professionals are from all over the country.

“We decided to do a class on stage rather than a performance of variations, because the audience gets the chance to see the entrants in action for a longer period.”

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