Artistic Director: Dirk Badenhorst

Venue: Teatro at Montecasino

Rating: *****

A quest for perfection; a tidal wave of artistry and skill; turns and jumps sculpted to ingenious balletic supremacy; a chain of brilliant performances that leaves one with a renewed sense of admiration and appreciation for this beautiful art form.

This weekend, ballet lovers were treated to the cream of international ballet talent. For this gala, yet another jewel in the crown of Dirk Badenhorst, dancers from no less than six nationalities were selected to exhibit blueprints of balletic brilliance on one stage.

Badenhorst is undoubtedly the man of the moment. He has the entrepreneurial initiative and know-how to achieve sensational successes against all odds.

Although none of the programmes differed in composition, the opening night lured one into attending all performances.

The evening started with what was probably the highlight of the programme: Alys Shee’s (Canada) and Aaron Smyth’s (Australia) superb performance of extracts from Le Corsaire.

Their virtuosity is jaw-dropping and their technique spectacular. They set the bar for the rest of the evening. Angela Malan did South Africa proud in her partnership with Raymond Martinov (Latvian National Opera Ballet) with their pas de deux from Swan Lake. Martinov proved his prowess in partner work in this programme with exceptional strength and masculine chivalry. He also performed in the pas de deux Lady of Camellias with Elza Leimane (also from Latvia).

Nathan Chaney (US) displayed technical brilliance in his two solos. In 2010 he won the gold medal in the junior classical category at the Cape Town International Ballet Competition.

On the local front, Kitty Phetla impressed not only with her dance but also with her choreography. Her Carmina Burana was superb. In this work Michael Revie (Irish-born but South African-based) can be applauded for his exceptional classical technique and virtuosity as well as his versatility in different dance styles. The evening did not end here for Revie. His Don Quixote pas de deux with Vingsay Valdes (principal dancer of the National Ballet of Cuba) was undoubtedly the second highlight of the evening. Valdes’s balance is mindboggling, as can be seen in her variations of turns that literally stay on one spot. Her beauty as an artist is astounding.

Craig Arnolds (South Africa) impressed with both his dance and choreography. This founding member of Mzansi Productions has a unique and untamed talent as can be seen in his solo Memoir.

And then of course there were Andile Ndlovu (South Africa) and Brooklyn Mack (US) who both dance for the Washington Ballet. Their Le Bananier was a firm favourite with the audience.

This is ballet as we like it – a theatre packed to capacity, proving that we can do with this splurge more than once a year. Bravo, Mzansi Productions!