Bal­let is ev­ery lit­tle girl’s dream

World-renowned Phetla dreams of tak­ing bal­let to town­ships to in­spire and dis­cover black dancers

Sunday World - - Life - Re­ports by So­maya Stock­en­stroom

Ma­jes­tic dancer Kitty Phetla has in­spired a host of black girls who wish to fol­low in her foot­steps.

At 35, the tall and buxom lass is still break­ing bound­aries and was re­cently awarded the Stan­dard Bank Young Artist Of The Year award.

Phetla is a se­nior soloist and chore­og­ra­pher with Joburg Bal­let. “With the awards cel­e­brat­ing 35 years and me turn­ing 35 this year, I have come full cir­cle. I am hon­oured that dance has fi­nally been recog­nised on this plat­form. It’s like win­ning an Os­car,” she says.

Phetla, who once con­tem­plated quit­ting the sport, says she feels it is her re­spon­si­bil­ity to bring change in the sport.

“The aim is to set up an es­tab­lish­ment, a 100% SA and black­owned dance school to train many un­der­priv­i­leged girls to be­come pro­fes­sion­als in this dis­ci­pline. Bal­let dance is right here, and it is for ev­ery­one – we don’t have to go over­seas for it.”

She started danc­ing at the young age of nine.

“I will be for­ever in­debted to Martin Schön­berg who dis­cov­ered me.” She ex­plains that Schön­berg vis­ited Or­ange Grove Pri­mary School where she was a learner and spoke about the sport.

Af­ter choos­ing bal­let over karate, she got hooked.

Phetla says it took her eight years to be a good dancer and an­other eight to be pro­fes­sional. She was the prin­ci­pal dancer for Bal­let Theatre African for years and trav­elled the world re­ceiv­ing many ac­co­lades.

She per­formed as a guest artist at the State Theatre as Queen of the Wilis in Swan

Lake. She says her ca­reer high­light was danc­ing The Dy­ing

Swan solo for Nel­son Man­dela and the Dutch royal fam­ily.

A rivet­ing per­for­mance is a re­cent one where she chan­nels

Queen Mod­jadji – for a rain-in­spired dance per­formed at Cape Town’s Thee­wa­ter­skloof Dam.

“There are so many SA sto­ries I would still like to tell through dance,” says Phetla, who also col­lab­o­rated with Three Ships Whisky.

She was in­vited to the James Sedg­wick dis­tillery by the lo­cal whiskey brand to bring to life their “Made Ex­cep­tional. Made Here” mes­sage of their new cam­paign. But she still main­tains that she is a bet­ter con­tem­po­rary dancer than a clas­si­cal bal­let per­former.

She says SA girls can do any­thing they put their minds to.

“Seven years ago, I dreamt of go­ing into ra­dio. To­day I have a show on Jacaranda FM af­ter start­ing out on Alex FM, and over­came many chal­lenges.”

Kitty Phetla in full flight dur­ing one of her rivet­ing per­for­mances.

The dancer next to a Three Ships dis­tiller.

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