Cape Town City Ballet’s Senior Principal Dancer Laura Bosenberg is to hang up her ballet shoes from the new year. She talks to SHEILA CHISHOLM about her decision:
To draw from Ecclesiastes 3 (KJV), “To every living thing, great or small, there is a season.” A time to be born. A time to dance. A time to pluck up what was planted, and a time to step onto an unknown path. That is where Laura Bosenberg finds herself after announcing her retirement as Cape Town City Ballet’s (CTCB) Senior Principal Dancer from 6 January 2019.
This lovely, musical, multi-award winning dancer’s departure, at her peak, has caught ballet lovers unawares. So – why now?
Obviously emotional, Laura Bosenberg simply said: “It is time. I’ve had a wonderful career. I’ve danced all the great ballerina roles and I feel that to continue is just to repeat what I have already done.”
After quiet reflection Bosenberg continued: “Classroom repetition is what builds technique. Or, if you have a regular partner – as I had with Tom (Thomas Thorne) – repeating roles means growing and developing the characters we’re portraying together. Not only did we trust each other implicitly – I never worried about him letting me fall or not catching me when leaping into his arms from a distance – we matched each other emotionally. However, his departure last year changed all that for me. The lads who’ve partnered me since then are grand. I just don’t feel the same inspiration.
“Still, it’s not an easy decision. It never is, to stop something you love and have spent (almost) every day of your life doing from the age of four. Another important reason is, the serious injuries I’ve sustained down the years are catching up with me. Presently I’m struggling with Achilles tendinitis – a problem brought on by dancing on the hard floors at CTCB’s new premises. I’m a trifle weary of constant pain.”
Career choices and changes
Changing tack, I asked what started her on her career. Smiling, Bosenberg replied: “I’ll tell you a secret. Initially I wanted to be a professional horse rider. That is until a horse falling on me put paid to that idea. Actually it was my mother Ruth who planted the dancing seeds. Like so many ‘ballet mama’s’ she would have danced had the opportunity arisen. So at four, wearing regulation pink leotard and ballet shoes, I started lessons with Natalie Swanepoel.
“Did I love ballet from my first fairy steps? I can’t remember. What I do recall, is that I LOVED dancing at festivals; taking my RAD exams (right up to Solo Seal); attending RAD Summer Schools in London, and then going to UCT Ballet School. In my second year choreographer Veronica (Paeper) cast me opposite Robin (van Wyk) in a pas de deux in The Merry Widow. By 2003 I was a full company member, and thrilled to bits when, in 2004 I won Balletomanes Best Newcomer Award.” Bosenberg won this first of many Best Female Dancer Awards in 2008 and from then onwards her career shot upwards.
Audiences have watched Bosenberg in all the major traditional classical ballets, as well as in more contemporary works. Guest artistes with whom she danced include Norwegian Dirk Weyerhauzen in Raymonda, Maxime Quiroga in Giselle, Mozart & Salieri and Cinderella. Washington Ballet’s Andile Ndlovu partnered her in Coppelia.
John Neumeier, Rudi van Dantzig, Sean Bovim and Adele Blank are choreographers to whom Bosenberg feels a debt of gratitude for contributing to her artistic development. On the other hand, dancing in Van Wyk’s youth ballets taught her the difference between teaching youngsters and professionals … for youth work, patience is the operative word.
Blessed with support
“From my very first stage appearance I’ve been blessed by wonderful family, friends and public support. No dancer can survive without that. What I have learnt I will hopefully pass on to up-and-coming generations once I’ve decided what road I am going to travel,” she says.
Historically, ballerinas are not noted for modesty. Bosenberg is a rare exception. It is only someone of her calibre who would, without murmur, accept on opening night being relegated to the corps de ballet’s back row in Adam Sage’s The Little Mermaid. Even though she will dance the lead at other performances, that was a major error of judgement.
However, together Laura Bosenberg and Thomas Thorne have given many, many hours of visual pleasure to our city’s balletomanes. So whatever the future holds for her, those moments will be treasured as she takes a grand jete onto her new life’s journey.