GRACE: National Ballet of Cubas acclaimed Viengsay Valdes, who made her South African debut in 2011, returned to Montecasino for the International Ballet Gala in homage to Alicia Alonso, dancing the Black Swan and Don Quixote pas de deux with Jose Losada.


Presented by Dirk Badenhorst

WHERE: The Teatro at Montecasino

RATING: ****

This weekend dance lovers were treated to the crème de la crème of ballet stars in Dirk Badenhorst’s International Ballet Gala.

The impressive compilation of leading international dancers performing a diverse array of classical highlights and modern ballet works paid homage to Alicia Alonso, prima ballerina assoluta and general director of the National Ballet of Cuba.

Alonso is a living legend in the ballet world and revered not only for her illustrious dance career but also for her invaluable contribution to the development of classical ballet in the Spanish American culture.

The programme boasted esteemed dancers predominantly from The South African Mzansi Ballet (SAMB) and the National Ballet of Cuba.

Badenhorst’s investment in the reciprocal collaboration with Cuban Ballet was evident in the sensational talents of Luis de Castro, Randol Figueredo, Javier Monier and Ramiro Samon, who all dance for SAMB.

Viengsay Valdes from the National Ballet of Cuba, Brooklyn Mack from the Washington Ballet and Aaron Smyth from The English National Ballet distinguished themselves as exceptional dancers, exhibiting not only superb technical prowess but also invigorating stage personalities that dazzled the audience.

Valdes’s Don Quixote pas de deux with Jose Losada was a stupendous performance demonstrating perfect balance sur la pointe. Valdes’s artistry surpassed a display of technical wizardry. It was her passion, captured in every movement, that made her performance memorable. Mack is a showman par excellence. His performance in extracts from George Balanchine’s Stars and Stripes was electrifying.

In the Diana and Actaeon pas de deux with Tamako Miyazaki he defied gravity with spectacular jumps that, as yet, have not been named. His grand pirouettes were perfectly executed with exceptional control and confidence.

Smyth’s solo, Feeling Good, created by himself and Dianne Talbot, demanded extreme versatility. Smyth’s execution was masterly.

South Africa’s Angela Maree, Michael Revie and Bernice Silvius bore evidence to the fact that local dancers are on par with inter- national standards.

Alonso took the final bow with a heartfelt message to dance lovers in South Africa, one of compassion and encouragement.