Going from the township to London and New York – Young dancer fights to fund his dream

| June 25, 2014 | 0 Comments

The 17-year-old boy from Gugulethu township strode onto stage amidst applause and gasps. Gasps for the fact that he walked on with crutches; and applause for the fact that this was the awards ceremony of the South African International Ballet Competition and Khanya Mandongana was striding over to receive a scholarship to the Ailey School in New York.

Despite his obviously serious (but fortunately temporary) foot injury, Khanya’s sheer joy and exuberance beamed out to every person lucky to be there that day. That was in February 2014.

But alas, without enough money to get to New York, sadly, he missed the cut-off date.

The exuberant Khanya Mandongana receives an Alvin Ailey School scholarship from co-director of the school, Melanie Person. Photo by Pat Bromilow-Downing

Overjoyed: Khanya Mandongana receives an Ailey School scholarship from co-director of the New York school, Melanie Person. Photo by Pat Bromilow-Downing

New opportunities, new challenges

Fast forward five months and on Wednesday evening, 25 June 2014, Khanya Mandongana will enter the stage again – sans crutches this time – to dance his way to another enormous opportunity offered to him: a scholarship to the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance in London. And this time, he’s going to do what he does best and dance all the way to his dream…

Khanya Mandongana with the young pre-professional dancers from Cape Junior Ballet. Photo by Pat Bromilow-Downing

Khanya Mandongana performs in a high quality production with the Cape Junior Ballet. Photo by Pat Bromilow-Downing

Young bright things shine In the Spotlight

The Cape Junior Ballet Company presents ‘In the Spotlight’ at the Masque Theatre in Cape Town for six performances only, from Wednesday 25 June to Saturday 28 June. And like Khanya, this production includes Cape Town’s most talented ballet stars of the future. For an example of what to expect, read to the end to find the short video clip from their live performance and interviews on the Expresso TV show.

Ranging from ages 12 to 18, these athletic young dancers will showcase a mix of classical and contemporary works from both well-known and rising South African choreographers such as Robin Van Wyk, Brigitte Reeve, Nicolette Loxton, Kirsten Isenberg, Lindy Raizenberg, Natasha Rhoda, and premieres a specially choreographed contemporary piece by Yarisha Singh.

Tasha Ainsworth performs in Cape Junior Ballet's In the Spotlight. Photo by Pat Bromilow-Downing

Tasha Ainsworth performs in Cape Junior Ballet’s In the Spotlight. Photo by Pat Bromilow-Downing

The Cape Junior Ballet (CJB) is the only ballet youth development company in Cape Town, and is the first of its kind. The young dancers are selected from surrounding dance schools in the Western Cape and the dancers are trained in ballet, contemporary and a variety of training techniques such as Pilates, Horton, repertoire, pointe, Gyrotonics and yoga. They come together on a Saturday afternoon at the UCT School of Dance and train with the professionals in the field of dance.

Going into battle for ballet and fighting for funding

Yarisha Singh’s new piece, Quest, is an expansion on the dance she choreographed for Khanya’s contemporary solo at the SAIBC in February. With the inspiration drawn from the soundtrack to The Last of the Mohicans, this piece sees Khanya as the male lead, leading into battle.

Rather appropriate as he fights to win his way to London…and then New York. Remember that Alvin Ailey scholarship? Recognising the enormous costs of moving from a South African township to the streets of Manhattan, the school has graciously offered to keep the scholarship on ice until 2016.

Help Khanya  Mandongana on his 'Quest' to reach London and maybe even New York too. Photo by Pat Bromilow-Downing

Help Khanya Mandongana on his ‘Quest’ to reach London and maybe even New York too. Photo by Pat Bromilow-Downing

If you feel inspired to help this talented young man advance to the best dance schools in the world, you can either contact his teacher and director of CJB, Dianne Cheesman (on 021 683 3564 or dichees@telkomsa.net), with ideas or donations to help cover some of Khanya’s costs; or you can book to see him and his fellow dancers in the spotlight.

Booking details:

Dates: 25, 26, 27 and 28 June 2014 at 19:30, plus matinee performances on 27 and 28 June at 15:30.
Venue: Masque Theatre, Muizenberg, Cape Town
Tickets: R80 (or R60 for the special schools matinee on Friday 27 June) via the Masque Theatre on 021 788 1898 or bookings@masquetheatre.co.za.

Now here’s that video – filmed on set at SABC’s Expresso Show on 24 June 2014 – with a short performance and interviews with Khanya, Dianne Cheesman and Mia Labuschagne (who has also received a scholarship to dance at the Central Ballet School in London in 2015). Enjoy.

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Category: Dance News

About the Author ()

Hi, I'm Robynn, and I'm a student of the potential of the body, the marvels of the mind, and the beauty of it all combined in ballet. As the editor, BodyMindBallet is where I get to learn, to share and to enjoy this wide world of dance - and with every day I gain an ever richer respect for the athleticism of dance and the skill of performance artistry.

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