Principal dancer Mariette Opperman celebrates with Johaar Mosaval. He was honoured by Cape Town City Ballet. Graphic: Wade Geduldt/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - He is the undisputed doyen of ballet in Cape Town, having spent decades perfecting his craft and teaching generations of youngsters the intricacies of the specialised dance form.

And on May 17, 91-year-old Johaar Mosaval was again honoured for his outstanding contribution to the arts, this time at a celebration tea hosted by the Cape Town City Ballet (CTCB) at the Artscape Theatre.

The event honoured Mosaval, who is the CTCB’s patron, for being awarded The Order of Ikhamanga: Gold, which he received from President Cyril Ramaphosa at a special ceremony in Pretoria last month.

The Order of Ikhamanga is awarded to South Africans who have excelled in the fields of arts, culture, literature, music, journalism or sport, and in instances of exceptional achievement like Mosaval’s, the order is awarded in gold.

Principal dancer Mariette Opperman celebrates with Johaar Mosaval. He was honoured by Cape Town City Ballet. Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)

Born in District Six in 1928, a young Mosaval was first noticed by ballet icon Dulcie Howes, who invited him to attend UCT Ballet School.

With a scholarship and various support, he went on to train in the UK at the Sadler’s Wells Ballet School, where in 1951, as a result of his immense talent, the budding young dancer was invited to join the Sadler’s Wells Theatre Ballet Company (later renamed The Royal Ballet.)

He then rose to become a principal dancer and in 1965, a senior principal.

In 1975, he was the first dancer to earn a Professional Dancer’s Teaching Diploma at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

In spite of the challenges he faced in the UK, in 1978 Mosaval received a Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal for his services to ballet in the UK.

In 2016, the Arts and Culture Trust bestowed him a Lifetime Achievement award for Dance, and this year he received the AKTV Lifetime Achievement Award at Suidoosterfees.

“I would like to say to all the dancers, aim high and keep going as success does not come in one day,” Mosaval said at his celebration tea.

Cape Town City Ballet chairperson Suzette Raymond said of Mosaval’s long and glittering career: “He has been an inspiration to so many of us and his significant contribution to classical ballet in South Africa is unparallelled.

“We salute you Johaar and celebrate with you.”

Weekend Argus