Johaar Mosaval – the ‘sweet and humble’ ballet pioneer

Johaar Mosaval died on Wednesday at the age of 95. Picture: SUPPLIED

Johaar Mosaval died on Wednesday at the age of 95. Picture: SUPPLIED

Published Aug 19, 2023


Heartbroken friends and colleagues of legendary ballet dancer Johaar Mosaval shared memories and remembered him for his humility and kindness.

His family said he died in the early hours of Wednesday. He was 95.

Mosaval was a recipient of the Order of Ikhamanga in Gold, awarded by President Cyril Ramaphosa, for his contribution to the performing arts.

He was remembered by Suzette Raymond, the chairperson of Cape Town City Ballet, who said they were proud to call Mosaval their patron.

Johaar Mosaval died on Wednesday at the age of 95. Picture: SUPPLIED

“He was the sweetest, most humble, good-natured and proud gentleman who always had a warm smile on his face. He loved being involved in the company and knowing what was going on.

“I awarded him a special certificate of recognition and outstanding achievement for his services to ballet in South Africa on behalf of the Friends of Cape Town City Ballet in 2021. Sadly he could not attend that ceremony then, but he did attend this year in January. He walked proudly to the podium and told us all about his memories of The Royal Ballet and spoke at great length which fascinated us all.

“We could not know that was the last time we would see him in such good health. Johaar was an exceptional human being who will be sadly missed by us all,” she said.

Cape Town theatre public relations officer, former ballerina and blogger Allison Foat said her memories of Mosaval went back as far as childhood.

“In March this year I did the PR on Dreaming Dance in District Six, a moving and dynamic dance production that paid tribute to Johaar, honouring him and showcasing his tremendous international career with The Royal Ballet. I first saw Johaar dance as a little girl when he came out from London to perform at what was then the Nico Malan Theatre (Artscape).

“To have the chance to work with him was such an honour. Always so present, bright eyes, ramrod-straight back which was astounding for someone of his grand age, and always ready to share coaching tips with young dancers; and his energy was just amazing. He was a gentleman, so gracious and charming. May he rest in peace,” she said.

Johaar Mosaval, Janet Lindup and Allison Foat at Artscape for ‘Dreaming Dance in District Six’, a show honouring his life earlier this year. Picture: SUPPLIED

Former ballet dancer Sharon Paulsen said: “I cared for him while he was ill. He was also a long-time friend.”

Former ballet dancer Sharon Paulsen with Johaar Mosaval.

Among the tributes that flooded in for Mosaval was this statement from the DA: “The passing of esteemed ballet dancer Johaar Mosaval has brought deep sorrow to the Democratic Alliance. Born in District Six, Johaar faced significant challenges during the 1940s when he embarked on his dancing journey within the confines of the apartheid system. Tragically, his potential remained largely unfulfilled within South Africa, where access to theatres and stages was severely restricted.”

The Presidency released a statement on Thursday, saying: “President Ramaphosa offers his deep condolences to the family and associates nationally and internationally of Mr Mosaval, who has passed away at the age of 95.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa honours Johaar Mosaval with the country’s highest award, the Order of Ikhamanga in Gold. Picture: SUPPLIED