Bal­let beau­ti­ful

At just 16 years old, Leroy Mok­ga­tle is light­ing up the stage with his deft dance moves and is poised to win yet an­other in­ter­na­tional award

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hard be­cause there is al­ways some­one bet­ter.

“For ex­am­ple, dur­ing dance classes most kids get bored af­ter about an hour. Not Leroy. His classes are up to two and a half hours long, and he never stops prac­tis­ing.”

His grand­mother told jour­nal­ists that Mok­ga­tle started to dance when he was five and that he takes af­ter his mother, a nurse, who had been a jiver of note.

She was un­able to at­tend the com­pe­ti­tion in Cape Town this week, but said Face­book was abuzz with friends and fam­ily cel­e­brat­ing his vic­tory.

On Fri­day night, Mok­ga­tle was joined in the semi­fi­nals by Faakhir Best­man (11) from Hanover Park on the Cape Flats. He is also be­ing raised by his grand­mother – Aye­sha Best­man. He trains with the Eoan Group Theatre Com­pany and was re­cently awarded a schol­ar­ship to at­tend a two-week bal­let course in New York City.

He first danced when he was only two years old. “I was stand­ing in front of a lady’s gate in my street in Hanover Park ... She asked me whether I would like to dance. So we danced in her yard. I loved it so much. Ob­vi­ously I can’t re­mem­ber this, but my granny told me.”

Best­man glowed when asked about his up­com­ing trip to the US. “I am feel­ing so happy and ex­cited. I re­ally just need to go for it, you know.”

The SA In­ter­na­tional Bal­let Com­pe­ti­tion’s gala will be held at Artscape at 3pm to­day

Mok­ga­tle can be seen in ac­tion in a show called Young Korean Bal­let Stars at the Brook­lyn Theatre in Pre­to­ria on March 1 and 2, and at the Leg­end Golf and Sa­fari Lodge near Sterkriv­ier, in Lim­popo, in Bal­let in the Bush on March 4 and 5

PAS DE DEUX Dancers prac­tise their rou­tine for the fifth SA In­ter­na­tional Bal­let Com­pe­ti­tion, which ends to­day with a gala event

TAK­ING A BREAK A bal­le­rina re­laxes back­stage at Cape Town’s Artscape theatre. She is one of 71 dancers en­ter­ing the bal­let cham­pi­onship

FANCY FOOT­WORK Ris­ing star Leroy, on stage with dancers from all over the world, per­fects his moves in prepa­ra­tion for the com­pe­ti­tion

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