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Cojocaru and Kobborg in South Africa20th and 21st of July

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#1 Ostrich


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Posted 22 July 2004 - 11:40 AM

Alina Cojocaru and Johann Kobborg flew in to guest in two performances of Giselle with the South African Ballet Theatre in Pretoria. I was looking forward to it greatly after all the excellent reports I have been reading about them and am pleased to say that we were not at all dissapointed.

Alina Cojocaru is a very young Giselle - I wouldn't place her above 14. I agree with everyone who said that her Giselle is a real person. She comes alive for one, and the same goes for Kobborg's Albrecht. Cojocaru had several technical slips in the first act. These made no sense to me since she showed a very secure technique otherwise and they literally seemed to be slips (like slipping at the end of a pirouette).

Kobborg's talent is difficult to formulate. He didn't make a big impression on me in the beginning, but he grows on one throughout the ballet. His technique was very secure throughout and he stunned us with his batterie and his pirouettes.

After the first act, I was impressed, but the second act left the whole audience breathless.It was a unique experience. That is saying much, because often in Giselle the second act is a bit of an anti-climax. What I found remarkable was Cojocaru's variability in the second act. Every dance (almost every movement) had a different mood. Kobborg also was stunning, both in his solos and in his partnering. Their partnership is outstanding.

The production as a whole was good but we had canned music (live orchestra accompanying ballet has become rare in South Africa) and the recording was pretty bad in places.

A South African dancer who deserves mention is Andries Weidemann, who danced Hilarion. His mime was outstanding. The interaction between him and Kobborg was very powerful and convincing. His Hilarion was definitely not a "villain". On the contrary, the audience bonded with him and sympathised with him, especially as Kobborg seemed a bit of a cad at first.

We felt very honoured by the visit of two such unique dancers. I hope they felt our appreciation. I think they did, because they got a standing ovation and something like 5 curtain calls!

Edited by Ostrich, 22 July 2004 - 12:09 PM.

#2 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 22 July 2004 - 11:55 AM

Thank you so much for the report, Ostrich! It seems Cojocaru and Kobborg are getting around.

I haven't heard that much about ballet in South Africa recently, but have had friends who worked with NAPAC and PACT and in Johannesburg as well. I know NAPAC is gone, and I think PACT remains. Is the Pretoria company a full time company? What's the situation in Johannesburg?

#3 Ostrich


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Posted 22 July 2004 - 12:19 PM

Actually, the Pretoria and the Johannesburg company is one and the same thing. It acts as resident ballet company for both cities, doing about half its season in Pretoria and the other half in Jo'burg. They were originally based in Jo'burg, then moved to Pretoria when a bigger stage was built there and have now moved back to Johannesburg because of the custom designed studios that have been built for them. They continue to perform in both cities though. I wonder how many other ballet companies there are that are resident companies for two cities?

PACT closed down in 2000 I think (PACT packed up, if you'll excuse the bad pun :ermm:) and SABT is the company that has risen out of its ashes. It is small and struggled for a while, but I think that they are picking up wonderfully. What is especially promising is their ongoing collaboration with the Royal Danish Ballet. Every time the Danish Ballet pays a visit, one can really see the improvement in our company.

Edited by Ostrich, 22 July 2004 - 02:24 PM.

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