The Val Whyte - is now in its 20th year.
Val Whyte is one not simply to theorise about the importance of good training, or of helping promising dancers. Her philanthropy manifested itself by way of generous financial donations to aspiring dancers, to help them get the best training possible. Recognising the chronic shortage of male dancers in South Africa, she sponsored a number of young men to study at the University of Cape Town's Ballet School.
In 1991, the Val Whyte Bursary was inaugurated in Gauteng: it was to be given to a young dancer who the adjudicators felt best displayed the qualities necessary to become a ballet dancer. Originally, this Bursary was only available to dancers studying the Cecchetti method, but prevailing circumstances in particular, and a necessary pragmatism, that has seen Cecchetti and RAD practitioners moving closer to each other in challenging times for dance in South Africa, have meant that the Bursary is now open to students of both methods. The winner of the Bursary receives a generous cash award for five years, to assist with ballet tuition throughout his/her high school years. All the finalists receive one year's tuition with the South African Ballet Theatre Academy also sponsored by Val Whyte.
The Bursary is open to young dancers in the academic Grade 8, which means that candidates are in more or less the twelve to thirteen year age bracket. Finalists for the Bursary are selected from open auditions; numbers have varied over the years, but there have usually been between twenty and thirty entrants, with about seven to ten children reaching the finals.
The adjudication panels have always been composed of men and women representing the finest teachers and professional dancers in Southern Africa; and the credibility of these adjudicators has always been impeccable. Likewise, a number of the finalists from the years past have gone on to making promising careers as professional dancers and teachers.
Pavlova might have inspired Val Whyte's mother, all those years ago. Now it is Val herself who is both the inspiration and benefactress of many fortunate young South Africans.
For more information contact Cheryl van Niekerk on 012 809 3242
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