The internationally acclaimed Geneva Ballet will make its Johannesburg Theatre debut on Wednesday June 17.
Under director Philippe Cohen, this much-awaited appearance – on the Mandela Stage – will mark the iconic Roméo and Juliette’s 100th performance. Only six shows are scheduled – until Sunday June 21.
The Geneva Ballet Company features young dancers – their average age is 25 – from various countries. Among them is South Africa’s Angela Rebelo, niece of well-known local actors Nicky Rebelo and Jennifer Steyn-Rebelo.
It’s my honour to bring you her perspective and experiences touring with this prestigious group.
Have you always felt the need to dance?
Yes. And my curiosity and desire to be on stage and to perform, grew stronger the more I continued and the more I was exposed to it while growing up. Returning to South Africa last year, with the Geneva company for the first time, was a dream that became a reality! This was a great highlight and accomplished goal of mine.
I really believe the challenging moments or uncomfortable moments in my career have not been pitfalls that I look down onto, but rather moments to learn from and discover why and how they can have greater meaning to what I am doing. As a performer and as a dancer, I think it is important to be open to this fact that we are constantly learning and need to take ownership of growth that comes from the ‘uncomfortable’ as well! And face it , and later look up to it.
How did the opportunity to work with the Geneva Ballet come about?
I was working with a company in California for 5-6 Seasons. Geneva Ballet came on tour to California and I made a point of watching their performance. I took class with the company once during their visit to my city of Santa Barbara at the time, and then a year later they had an Open Audition in Geneva. I went to Geneva for that open audition knowing fully that I wanted this job!
What would you like audiences to take away from this show?
The story of ‘Romeo and Juliette’ is of course very well known. The audience therefore are not searching for the story being told and this therefore allows them to experience the ‘different version’ or rather the contemporary version Geneva Ballet will present. As well as take away with them their own opinions and feelings provoked by the movements and the chosen order of representation in the music for this tragic love story.
The premise of my website is to explore the golden thread of humanity which affects us all. Artists, musicians, dancers – all have the ability to tweak this thread which stretches across generations, nations, ages – to make people FEEL. Is this something that you think about and hope to accomplish with your dancing and the stories you tell?
What inspires you to get up and dance, day after day? Where does the drive and passion come from?
Remembering the internal, instinctual desire to WANT something and why it allowed me to work hours and hours away from my family while growing up knowing that the work and growth and evolving never ends!
This internal instinct inspires me still!
Also, I admire and draw my drive from all kinds of people in various career fields. Their highlights, accomplishments and their ‘pitfalls’. I am also very inspired by people less fortunate or who are physically challenged or who have lost one of their 5 senses. They are a huge role model.
Have there been any shows or performances that you’ve preferred over another, and why?
Not particularly no. Working on style or abstract movement or a story role character or a classical ballet … All great.
What would you say to youngsters wanting to get into the dancing field, to encourage them? What tips can you pass along to them?
Do it! Explore, take on the opportunities that face you or find opportunities, absorb from each experience as a dancer and as a human-being.
What’s it like working back in South Africa as part of a Swiss group?
Fantastic! For me and for the Swiss group to have this fantastic exposure!
Is there anything else that you’d like to get across with this interview – to the audience, or about the show?
We want to share with the audience this story which is not abstract but very real in the way the choreographer has created it. It is very ‘common and human like’ in its movement. Also, we are such a diverse group of dancers from all over the world. We are very present during the show and we want to share our personalities and our individual take on the story to tell, we want to be read by the audience !
Read my interview with Artistic Director Philippe Cohen here.
Roméo & Juliet performances are from Wednesday 17 June – Friday 19 June at 8pm, Saturday 20 June at 3pm & 8pm and Sunday 21 June at 2pm.
Tickets range from R180 to R350 and are on sale via the Joburg Theatre website www.joburgtheatre.com or by calling the theatre’s direct ticketing line on 0861 670 670.