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Written by: Samantha Saevitzon


The South African Ballet Theatre (SABT) was formed in 2001 by former members of PACT Ballet / the State Theatre Ballet who were retrenched in June 2000 following the closure of the State Theatre in Pretoria.

The dancers re-grouped in September 2000 and were briefly contracted to an independent company to perform The Nutcracker at the State Theatre in November and December 2000 as well as at the Sun City Superbowl on Christmas Eve.

The dancers returned to the studio in January 2001 and, despite no prospect of further funding, were determined to continue the struggle to live and dance in the country, and to keep the magic of classical ballet alive in South Africa. Six of these dancers: Kimbrian Bergh, Angela Malan, Fiona Budd, Dirk Badenhorst, Iain MacDonald and Karen Beukes combined their talents to become the steering committee for the new company. All the dancers showed tremendous dedication and commitment to their cause and none of them received salaries for several months.

SABTs first season was Giselle performed at the State Theatre in March 2001. The season was a great success and encouraged the Company to pursue its endeavours.

In February 2011, SABT celebrated its tenth birthday hand has since moved to its new home at the Joburg Theatre in Braamfontein. The two studios at the Joburg Theatre were purpose built for the SABT and were part of the Johannesburg Inner City development plan to have floor-to ceiling windows which makes the activities of the company visible to office workers and passers-by in the precinct.

SABT has gone on to become the countrys largest professional ballet company with a repertoire that includes the classics such as The Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Copplia, Carmen, Swan Lake, Romeo & Juliet and others. Also in the repertoire are works by choreographers such as Sean Bovim, Gregory Maqoma and Kaloyan Boyadjiev.

The SABT was the first South African ballet company to be invited to perform in Russia and toured that country in 2006 to standing ovations. In 2007, the SABT hosted guest artists from Londons The Royal Ballet in an effort to raise funds for children in South Africa living with HIV/Aids. Other collaborations have included exchange programmes with The Royal Swedish Ballet, The Danish Royal Ballet, the National Ballet of Canada, the Paris Opera and the San Francisco Ballet.

*PHOTO: Burnise Silvius as Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty. Photographer: JOHN HOGG

Royal Danish Ballet, dancers from the United States of America, National Ballet of Canada, San Francisco Ballet, San Francisco Ballets Outreach Development Programme, Paris Opera Ballet School and Englands Royal Ballet.

In 2003 Anya Carstens partnered Chidozie Nzerem in a prestigious international gala event in Jackson Mississippi. Principal dancer Burnise Silvius is currently guesting with the National Ballet of Canada as part of the ongoing exchange of talent with that company. Senior Soloist Catherine Royce is currently guesting in London with the Northern Ballet Theatre.

In 2003 eight dancers of this company took part in a once off gala event in Denmark during which dancers from the Royal Danish Ballet, New York City Ballet, The Royal Ballet and The South African Ballet Theatre took part in the programme.

The South African Ambassador in Denmark, Mr. Stephen Gawe, asked SABT to be part of the Africa Day Celebrations held in Copenhagen on 25 September 2003. During the event, in which 12 African countries participated, SABT performed Kopano which was received most enthusiastically by the audience as well as other performers for its dancing as well as the works relevance to Africa.

Two of SABTs dancers who had travelled to Denmark, Admill Kuyler and Craig Arnolds, remained there to train with the Royal Danish Ballet for a month before returning to SA.

Artistic Director: Iain MacDonald
Managing Director: Trish Downing

The South African Ballet Theatre is based at the Joburg Theatre,
Braamfontein, Johannesburg.

The Companys two state-of-the art studios and offices overlook the busy CBD.

For further information, please contact (011) 877 6898 or visit:


The South African Ballet Theatre
Association Incorporated under S21: 2001/016254/08 016 NPO
PO Box 291 990, Melville, Johannesburg, 2109

Tel: + 27 11 877 6898
Fax: + 27 11 877 6864








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