Lissi Baez Diaz is one of the Cuban dancers invited to take part in the SAIBC International Ballet Gala events.
Outstanding ballet will once again grace South African stages when the much anticipated SAIBC International Ballet Gala takes place from Saturday, September 2 to September 9 at three venues - Cape Town, Gauteng and Limpopo.

Presented by Dirk Badenhorst, the CEO and Founder of the biennial South African International Ballet Competition (SAIBC) - in association with Artscape and supported by South African Tourism. The galas in Cape Town, Hartebeespoort, Johannesburg and a once-off Ballet in the Bush performance in Limpopo - will showcase thrilling ballet variations, pas de deux and neo classical works.

These will be performed by a stellar company of top professional dancers from South Africa, Russia, Spain, Mongolia, Armenia, the USA, Belarus, Cuba, Egypt and Mexico.

Audiences can look forward to spectacular pas de deux and solos from Giselle, Swan Lake, Paquita and Le Corsaire.

“I am very privileged to travel and see many different dancers and teachers from around the world,” says Badenhorst.

“The gala is an attempt to bring a bit of the world to South Africa, to inspire dancers, teachers and audiences to grow and develop South African ballet. It brings some of the best and most exciting dancers from different countries to share with South Africa their own style and technique.

“I really want to showcase amazing talent and so I chose from a wide selection of dancers,” explains Badenhorst.

This includes young Mongolian ballerina, Anujin Otgontugs, who was a medallist at the Shanghai International Ballet Competition last year, where Badenhorst was a jury member.

He believes in creating stronger ties with the rest of Africa, especially for the next South African International Ballet Competition, and he included Hassan Eltabie from Egypt with his Armenian partner Mariam Karapetyan.

SAIBC International Ballet Gala. Picture: Supplied

With the Russians always being favourites with audiences, husband and wife Artemiy Pyzhov and Mariia Rudenko from St Petersburg, now dancing in Bratislava, are among the invited dancers.

As Cuban ballet has always been dear to Badenhorst, three Cuban dancers have been invited - Jonhal Fernandez, Javier Monier jr, and Lissi Baez Diaz.

South African dancers include former ballerina Angela Malan and Andile Ndlovu.

Badenhorst says: “I’ve always believed in the role that the arts, and in particular ballet, can play in bringing South Africans and the world together.

“We call this ‘ballet diplomacy’.

“In this exciting partnership with South African Tourism, however, we are taking it one step further, calling it ‘ballet tourism’, with outstanding dancers from around the world becoming ambassadors for South Africa.”

Margie Whitehouse, Chief Marketing Officer at South African Tourism adds: “The role that the arts can play in bringing South Africans and the world together is critical.

“We look forward to welcoming these outstanding dancers from around the world.

“We know that they will love our country and through connecting with our warm people.”

* The SAIBC International Ballet Gala takes place at the Mountain Cambridge School in Hartebeespoort on September 5 at 7pm, in Johannesburg at the Mosaiek Teatro in Fairland, on September 7 at 8pm, and at the Legend Golf and Safari Resort in Limpopo on September 9 at 7pm.

* Tickets for performances at the Mosaiek Theatres are booked through Computicket. For tickets for the show in Hartebeespoort, please call Dirk Badenhorst, on 083 324 0949, and for tickets for the performance Ballet in the Bush, e-mail [email protected]