LEARNING FROM A LEGEND:
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.