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Viengsay Valdés, the Principal Ballerina of the National Ballet of Cuba, will join the illustrious line up of dancers for the forthcoming International Ballet Gala (IBG) to be held at the GrandWest Arena in Cape Town on 29 June and at the Teatro at Montecasino from 7-10 July 2011. Ms. Valdés will perform two show stopping pas de deux from Don Quixote and Swan Lake (the famous ‘Black Swan’ pas de deux), in Johannesburg only.

Dirk Badenhorst, the presenter of the forthcoming International Ballet Gala seasons, saw Ms. Valdés perform at the recent Youth America Grand Prix gala event in New York.  She trained at the National Ballet School of Cuba and is the star of that country’s national ballet company, directed by Alicia Alonso. Ms. Valdés is acknowledged to be as one of the world’s finest ballerinas and, with the superb cast of performers already secured for the IBG, her participation takes the event to an even higher dimension.

Mr. Badenhorst has announced another outstanding addition to the performance repertoire to be presented in both cities. Le Bananier, a duet for two male dancers from the ballet Great Galloping Gottscalk, will be danced by Johannesburg-born Andile Ndlovu and the American Brooklyn Mack, both members of the prestigious Washington Ballet and winners of the silver and bronze medals respectively in the Boston International Ballet Competition held in May, 2011.

Great Galloping Gottschalk was created by choreographer Lynn Taylor-Corbett and first performed in Miami in 1982. Top ballet companies including American Ballet Theatre, BalletMet, Pennsylvania Ballet and Pittsburgh Ballet have since staged it.  The duet’s tongue-in-cheek humour in the onstage rivalry between the two soloists, as well as its spectacular technical demands and the debonair ease with which they are performed, make it a showpiece for male dancers.  Says Mr. Badenhorst,  “I am delighted to be able to present this duet and am so grateful to Ms. Taylor-Corbett for her generous goodwill gesture towards the advancement of ballet and dance in this country”.

Cape Town and Johannesburg are abuzz in anticipation of the International Ballet Gala that promises breathtaking ballet, the calibre of which is seldom seen on local South African stages.  Audiences will see classical ballet of the highest standard for the first time ever at the Grand Arena and Teatro at Montecasino, hugely popular venues that have hosted many of the World’s best acts. People who appreciate world class entertainment and who supported the recent Andre Rieu and Riverdance concerts will be equally impressed and captivated by exquisite dancing set to beautiful music by composers such as Tchaikovsky.

In the International Ballet Gala, dancers from cities around the globe such as New York, Havana, Zurich, Seoul and Tokyo will present excerpts from legendary ballets such as The Sleeping Beauty, Le Corsaire and Giselle. Aside from Viengsay Valdés, Brooklyn Mack and Andile Ndlovu, the stars featured in the line-up, some of whom are winners from previous the Cape Town International Ballet Competitions, are Alys Shee, Elza Leimane, Hyo Jung Jun, Nathan Chaney,  Oscar Carmenates, Raimond Martinov, Tamako Miyazaki, Hy Seon Park and Aaron Smyth. South African-based dancers include Irish-born Michael Revie, Thoriso Magongwa and Kitty Phetla.

Presented jointly by the Cape Town International Ballet Competition  (funded in part by the City of Cape Town) and Mzansi Productions (funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund) that are both directed by Dirk Badenhorst, the International Ballet Gala will showcase some  of the most dazzling ballet talent to visit South Africa, setting the stage  alight with powerful dancing and generating an excitement sure to heat up SA’s  wintery months.

After a single performance in Cape Town’s Grand Arena on 29 June at 8pm, the International Ballet Gala will be presented in Johannesburg at the Teatro at Montecasino in Fourways from 7-10 July with  tickets costing from R80 to R350 at both venues and all booking via Computicket or  0861 9158000. Advance booking is recommended.