Kerry Nicholls teaching
Kerry Nicholls teaching

The South African National Dance Trust’s (SANDT) latest project is aimed at established professional choreographers and artistic directors. To this end, SANDT has invited Kerry Nicholls to lead an Intensive Choreographic and Performance programme writes SHEILA CHISHOLM.

FOR many years classical ballet performances have, in Cape Town, displayed a decline in technical and artistic standards. The reasons are multiple and complex and not for discussion in this article. What is, is that three concerned dance loving citizens, decided to stop talking and set about instituting ways and means to empower teachers/ choreographers/ dancers to broaden their skills. Hoping by doing that slowly but surely our professional companies would reach a standard commensurate to those overseas. No easy task.

So, in 2009, after consultations with interested local and international parties, The South African National Dance Trust (SANDT) was formed headed by Veronica Paeper (South Africa’s premier choreographer and one time CAPAB’s artistic director), Mike Bazzaso (Administrator) and Robyn Taylor (Project Director). Their primary mission being “To support and preserve the classical ballet art form and contemporary dance throughout South Africa. To raise the appreciation and awareness of great ballet.”

In their first decade, SANDT successfully produced an integrated reworked version of Paeper’s dramatic ballet titled Spartacus in Africa. This production toured major SA cities, and their sponsorship enabled youngsters, from poorer communities, to watch special educational shows. Another enlightening programme took place at The Fugard Theatre where a panel led audience discussions after watching Tamara Rojo’s (Artistic Director English National Ballet) documentary Good Swan Bad Swan.

SANDT, linking with the Fugard Theatre’s International Arts Film festivals made it possible for invited dance fraternity members to view magnificently recorded films such as Don Quixote and Flames of Paris. SANDT anticipated that by ‘stealing with their eyes’ a groundswell would start insisting our productions rise to match Bolshoi Ballet, London’s Royal Ballet and the BBC’s documentary of Akram Khan’s Giselle – a widely acclaimed new age progressive production.

English National Ballet dancer Stina Quagebeur did the course with Kerry Nicholls. She has since created two works for English National Ballet, A Room in New York and Vera
English National Ballet dancer Stina Quagebeur did the course with Kerry Nicholls. She has since created two works for English National Ballet, A Room in New York and Vera

Intensive Choreographic Performance Symposium

SANDT’s latest project is aimed at established professional choreographers – artistic directors included. To this end SANDT has invited Kerry Nicholls to lead an Intensive Choreographic and Performance Symposium from 27 September to 3 October 2019.

Who is Kerry Nicholls and why has she been invited here?

Louisa Talbot (freelance choreographer and dancer) who recently spent three months in London studying under Kerry Nicholls said, “Kerry creates a whole new way of making you look, not just at your work and performance, but how to view yourself holistically. As choreographers and dance practitioners we, or certainly I, often fall into the trap that I must work within a preconceived mould.”

“She taught me to experiment with my body and mind then, have sufficient faith in myself to do what I believe to be right. Perhaps most importantly, I learnt to accept failure happens and its part of artistic growth. Provided I pick myself up to continue thinking creatively outside and beyond restrictive four walls. Kerry’s international experience and impressive credentials make her ideal to drive thinking processes forward.”

Nicholls, is presently external assessor for both English National Ballet School and the Royal Ballet School as well as being Contemporary Module Leader for the Degree programme at the Royal Ballet School. She is a regular choreographic mentor and career consultant for the Royal Opera House, English National Ballet and half a dozen other august companies. She is much sought-after for her knowledge on the diverse dance practice spectrum.

SANDT’s Intensive Choreographic and Performance Programme is designed for professional dance practitioners – it’s not suitable for students. The Kerry Nicholls programme takes place from 27 September until 3 October at Jazzart studios, Artscape.

Who: The South African National Dance Trust – SANDT
What: Kerry Nicholls Intensive Choreographic and Performance Symposium
When: 27 September – 3 October 2019
Application to attend: robyntaylor@sandt.co.za
WS