There will be no hanging up of the pointe shoes for PE ballet dancers Anneke Claassen, Skye Phillips and Kate Weakley when they return from their once-in-a-lifetime experience at the American Academy of Ballet (AAB) Summer School of Excellence in New York on Monday next week (17 July). They will be heading straight into rehearsals for the Friendly City Youth Ballet production of Thumbelina, to be staged at the PE Opera House from 27 to 29 July.
The aspiring ballerinas, all 17, are no strangers to the Youth Ballet and the Opera House, but there will be even more special significance for them this time around as the AAB Summer School they have just attended was founded by renowned South African ballet dancer and teacher, the late Mignon Furman, who also staged the first-ever Port Elizabeth Youth Ballet production. (The Friendly City Youth Ballet is the successor to the PE Youth Ballet.)
Thumbelina is being staged in collaboration with the Cape Town City Ballet, where Furman also founded that city’s Youth Ballet programme.
Anneke, who attends Pearson High School, Skye (St Dominic’s Priory) and Kate (Victoria Park High School) auditioned against talented young dancers from the USA and 15 other countries to earn their places at the intensive three-week AAB Summer School. The AAB is considered one of the world’s leading dance training grounds, and the by-invitation-only summer school at Purchase College at the State University of New York included dancing six days’ a week under the guidance of teachers who are also coaches to some of the dance world’s top performers, as well as participating in performances and exploring other dance styles such as jazz and Spanish.
The four ballerinas are all pupils of the Walmer School of Dance run by Royal Academy of Dance registered teacher Troy Coffey.
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