Cape Town City Ballet

Cape Town City Ballet

Established in 1934 as the University of Cape Town Ballet Company, Cape Town City Ballet has strong heritage and roots. It is moving into the next era of dance with the objectives of delighting anew its loyal supporters as well as inspiring new audiences to engage with and love ballet, striving to achieve this by delivering unique dance performances aligned with the global dance landscape, with creativity, integrity and the pursuit of excellence.


Dr Dulcie Howes, the founding Artistic Director of the company, was adamant that, from the moment of formation, this dance company would give opportunity to talent, irrespective of race or colour. She proved to be formidable in this regard and throughout her directorship, both the ballet company and the training programme gained a reputation for ensuring that opportunity for training and employment was open to all, despite the ruling laws of the time. Professor David Poole, her successor, continued this tradition and the UCT training programme was one of the few in the country that graduated students from across all communities in the country.


The Company has in the past been the home of dancers such as Mzonke Jama, Kevin Muller, Sharon Paulsen, Christopher Kindo, Laveen Naidoo, Jack Wyngaard, Llewellyn de Villiers and Desiree Samaai, many of whom have made names for themselves in dance internationally, as well as in South Africa. Under his guidance, the CAPAB Ballet Co reached international standards of production and direction, and enjoyed constant interaction with directors, choreographers and teachers from abroad.

In her time as Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer of the CAPAB Ballet Co, from 1990 to 2005, Veronica Paeper wrote over 40 ballets. After her retirement in 2005, the Company retained her works and reproduces them regularly, to the delight of her many followers.  In September CTCB staged her renowned production of Carmen, designed by long-time collaborator Peter Cazalet, and due to popular demand will be presented for a further set of performances in late September, October and November.  Over the festive season her delightful and extremely popular A Christmas Carol – The Story of Scrooge will be staged in the Artscape Theatre from 9 – 22 December.


Cape Town City Ballet remains committed to developing the dancers of the future, and its various development and education programmes have reached more than 320 000 young people. The Company’s audience development and training initiatives include the Young Male Dancer Development Programme, the Apprentice Programme and partnerships for training programme with various dance schools.

The CTCB has a long-standing practice of developing South African choreographic talent. In 2019, the Choreolab programme was established as a platform to incubate, nurture and invest in aspiring South African choreographers from within the Company.


The choreographer is supported in creating and staging a work, while developing their choreographic skills by working with a mentor. Three dancers took part in the 2019 initiative.  With the onset of Covid-19 and accompanying restrictions, the Choreolab programme was adapted for 2020.  Nine dancers each created a dance piece for  a short dance film in collaboration with Norval Foundation and inspired by and celebrating the work of William Kentridge from his Why Should I Hesitate: Sculpture exhibition.


During the 2020 lockdown, Cape Town Opera and kykNET in collaboration with Cape Town City Ballet, Camerata Tinta Barocca and Wyrd Films, presented Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater.  The work was choreographed by London-based South African Mthuthuzeli November, and premiered on kykNET in October 2020.


As part of their 2021 Autumn Season at Artscape, and in marking the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Opera House Complex, CTCB proudly presented the African premiere of Mthuthuzeli November’s Olivier Award winning Ingoma, originally commissioned by Cassa Pancho for Ballet Black, and which premiered at the Barbican in London in 2019.


CTCB aims to serve the dance community as a whole and provides opportunities for teachers and young dancers in training from around the City to participate and gain experience in professional productions and attend various rehearsals.  In 2019, students and young dancers took part in A Christmas Carol, Sleeping Beauty and Enemy Behind the Gates. In 2020 students had the opportunity to observe rehearsals of Maina Gielgud’s Swan Lake.


Cape Town City Ballet is grateful for the support of the City of Cape Town, Western Cape Government, Food Lovers Market and Toby Fine Ballet Fund.

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