‘Ballet dancers give their lives to their careers’


For the past 82 years, Cape Town City Ballet (CTCB) has been delivering world-class dance entertainment through its commitment to the art of dance – and for the past 22 years, artistic executive and Hout Bay resident, Keith Mackintosh, has helped the company grow from strength to strength.

Tomorrow, Saturday April 23 marks CTCB’s 22nd annual open day and credit for its success, without a doubt, goes to Mr Mackintosh.

The first open days started as craft markets where dancers could showcase products and art made by them.

“Many dancers had hobbies like pottery and the open days were an opportunity for them to showcase their work and earn some money from it. The day always ended with a performance by the dancers and the people loved it,” he said.

And so the CTCB open days came to life by providing more entertainment for all audiences and this year it joined hands with the University of Cape Town (UCT) School of Dance, Cape Junior Ballet (CJB) and Zama Dance School in Gugulethu.

The Rosebank-based company is an NPO and was started in 1934, making it South Africa’s oldest ballet company and one of the oldest in the world.

Mr Mackintosh, a dancer himself, was born in Britain, came to South Africa in 1971 and has been involved with the company since. In 1967, he was the first overseas male dancer to be invited to join the CTCB where he made his debut as Prince Sieg-fried in Swan Lake at the age of 21.

He has also danced all the leading classical and romantic roles in the repertoire, but was eq- ually at home in more modern works.

He has lived in Hout Bay for the past 25 years and describes himself as “very private”.

“I love my weekly walks on Chapman’s Peak and having coffee in the village. I love nature and wish I had more time to spend outdoors. I love it when the whales come to the valley but they don’t come often enough,” he said.

And today, his greatest inspiration is seeing young dancers grow.

“Ballet dancers give their lives to their careers and work ex-tremely hard,” he said,

He described dancing as an amazing art form with no language barrier that speaks to everyone.

As the CTCB grew it became apparent that there was a need for development programmes to enable it to reach young dancers in various communities and to make dancing more accessible to those communities.

The company has since, with the help of Mr Mackintosh, established many programmes, such as the young male dancer development programme, the graduate programme and the audience development programme, as well as a partnership with the Amy Biehl Foundation and the Zama Dance School to teach young dancers from disadvantaged communities.

He explains that the open day is a fundraiser for his outreach programmes.

This year the open day will showcase work from the CTCB, UCT School of Dance, Cape Junior Ballet (CJB) and Zama Dance School. It starts at 10am and runs until 3pm at the studios at the UCT School of Dance in Rondebosch and will give members of the public a peek into the extraordinary world of a pro- fessional dancer and ballet company.

Young budding dancers can expect to meet professional dancers and talk to make-up artists and costume designers.

Admission is R40 for adults, R20 for children under 13 and allows access to all activities.

Visit www. capetowncityballet. org.za or send an email to Mr Mackintosh on keith@cape towncityballet. org.za