LEARN­ING FROM A LEG­END:

Cape Times - - FRONT PAGE - Ni­cola Daniels ni­cola.daniels@inl.co.za

Bal­let leg­end Jo­haar Mosaval, 90, with Faahkir Best­man at the EOAN Group bal­let stu­dio in Athlone. Faahkir won the gold medal in the Scholar Di­vi­sion of the SA In­ter­na­tional Bal­let Com­pe­ti­tion (SAIBC) in Fe­bru­ary 2016. Mosaval was in the au­di­ence that night. He will be hon­oured at the same com­pe­ti­tion at Artscape on March 3.

AT THE age of 90, bal­let leg­end Jo­haar Mosaval will be hon­oured on stage at the sixth SA In­ter­na­tional Bal­let Com­pe­ti­tion (SAIBC) as one of South Africa great­est dancers.

Mosaval was a bal­let dancer for over 30 years, spend­ing most of his ca­reer as a se­nior prin­ci­pal dancer for the Royal Bal­let in London. He was the first black dancer to join the Royal Bal­let and trav­elled the world with the com­pany.

“Bal­let is a beau­ti­ful art… It is amaz­ing what you can do with your body when it’s trained.The flow of move­ment to beau­ti­ful mu­sic… it is as if you’re float­ing all the time.”

Of his proud­est mo­ment in his ca­reer, he said: “The high­light was when I was cho­sen out of 150 dancers to dance a solo for the coronation of Her Majesty Queen El­iz­a­beth.”

“Ev­ery king and queen, in­clud­ing pres­i­dents from around the world, were in­vited. At that mo­ment, I was on cloud nine.”

Af­ter 25 years abroad, Mosaval re­turned to South Africa in 1975. The fol­low­ing year he opened his own bal­let school, which he ran for 15 years.

He said he felt “on top of the world” for be­ing hon­oured by SAIBC.

“Things are hap­pen­ing very late in my life, but I am grate­ful to the man above that I am still here to en­joy life.”

He said South Africa had very tal­ented dancers.

“Our dancers would be ac­cepted by any com­pany in the world be­cause we are strong.”

Mosaval said he wished he could be more ac­tive in the bal­let space de­spite his age.

Dur­ing apartheid he came back to South Africa to share the knowl­edge he had gained, but was de­nied teach­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties at the biggest bal­let in­sti­tu­tions in Cape Town sev­eral times be­cause of his skin colour.

“But things have changed, the doors have opened and young peo­ple are able to do any­thing. Moms should en­cour­age their chil­dren, there are golden op­por­tu­ni­ties out there,” he said.

Mosaval be­lieves it was his de­ter­mi­na­tion and hard work that earned him all his suc­cess.

“Bal­let is very dif­fi­cult, but when you are on stage you fool the au­di­ence into think­ing that it is ef­fort­less. In re­al­ity it is hours of train­ing, work­ing on your own. My life was dance and noth­ing else.

“I had many ob­sta­cles in terms of my re­li­gion; my fam­ily was against me. As the el­dest of 10 chil­dren and be­ing a male dancer, my de­ci­sions were frowned upon be­cause it was un­heard of.

“But I re­mained de­ter­mined to pur­sue my life and I did it with great suc­cess.”

The semi-fi­nals and fi­nals of the SAIBC will take place at the Artscape The­atre on March 2 and 3 at 7pm. Tick­ets are avail­able at Com­puticket and cost from R110 to R350.

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