Christmas is about memories. So many special moments that we remember forever. As a child one of my most vivid memories around Christmastime was our annual road trips down to Cape Town to visit my beloved gran. We only saw her for a week or two each year (and even then not every year) She was always so excited to make our visit magical and would go above and beyond to create beautiful memories – baking, reading in bed, visits to the tourist attractions around the city and, always, a trip to the ballet!
What a mesmerizing experience this was for myself and my little sister. We were transported into another dimension by the beautiful ballerinas on pointe, the sparkling lights, the fantastical sets and the exquisite costumes. A real life fairytale in front of our very eyes!
I recall going to watch Swan Lake, Giselle and Orpheus and the Underworld (not necessarily the best choice for kids!) I remember these mostly because we kept the programmes for YEARS afterwards!
A trip to the Nico Malan (now Artscape) was not just about the ballet – although it was always the highlight – this outing was a chance to dress up in our finest dresses, enjoy ascending the plush carpeted stairs to marvel at the impressive chandelier lights, sip an Appletizer in a glass at half time while looking at the city lights and stay up way past our bedtimes – driving home in the dark!
I’m so grateful for these beautiful memories that my gran created for my sister and myself. We still talk about the time we got all the way to town and at the door realised we’d forgotten the tickets at home!
Last weekend I had the opportunity to recreate this special childhood tradition for my own daughter – with her gran, her aunt and her cousin! Yes, my mom, my sister and myself headed off to the Artscape, sadly my gran is no longer around to join us, but this time we were able to pass on a love for the ballet to the next generation… My gran’s great-grand-daughters!
In matching pink sparkly dresses they sank into their velour seats and gasped as the lights dimmed and the stage came alive with the stuff of dreams!
This festive season the annual ballet at the Artscape is A Christmas Carol – The Story of Scrooge. Based on the book written by Charles Dickens the story takes place on Christmas Eve and tells the tale of an elderly and unpleasant man, Ebenezer Scrooge, who is paid a visit by the Ghost of his dead business partner Joseph Marley who tells him that three Spirits will call on Scrooge: The Spirit of Christmas Past, The Spirit of Christmas Present and the Spirit of Christmas Future. Marley tells Scrooge that unless he listens well and changes his miserly ways he will be forever condemned to be in chains of damnation.
The role of Ebenezer Scrooge is played by highly regarded performer Marcel Meyer. This is his first role in a professional ballet, since playing Doctor Coppelius in a student production of Coppélia at the Breytenbach Theatre in Pretoria. Meyer has played leading roles in several plays by Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams to acclaim on stages across South Africa, Europe and the USA.
Cape Town City Ballet’s presentation of this sumptuous production is en pointe! We were wowed by the sparkling costumes, delighted by the dancing and swept away by the moving music. A particular favourite scene is the one filled with Christmas characters and costumes which feels really festive for this time of the year. The beautiful duets of the various Christmas “spirits” were also really lovely and us girls each chose our favourite!
The girls both loved the production and even asked “How do you get to dance like that” and “Can I start ballet again”! They were a bit nervous about the ghost character, but ultimately they were enthralled from start to finish. We went to the 7:30pm show and with a running time of 2 and a half hours this was impressive for the 6 year old (she did collapse in the car!)
This timeless tale of the triumph of joy and the human spirit over greed is the perfect holiday entertainment for the whole family!
A Christmas Carol is being restaged by South African dance doyenne Veronica Paeper and features lighting design by Wilhem Disbergen. A Christmas Carol – The Story of Scrooge is one of more than 40 ballets, among them 16 full-length works, that have been choreographed by Paeper, who began choreographing in 1972. This production was created in 1982 and has not been seen in Cape Town for over 20 years. It is on at the Artscape Theatre from 14 to 24 December. Performances on 24 December includes Fairy and Prince Fancy Dress Parade after each performance and are a must for families with aspiring ballerinas!
The underground municipal car park linked to Artscape is open for public parking from 17:00 on weekdays and an hour before the starting time of shows on weekends. It closes at 24:00. The parking fee is R24.00 and R15.00 for pensioners.