A beautiful night at the ballet – who could ask for anything more?

Photo by Kim Stevens

FROM the moment the curtain rises on the still-empty stage of the Artscape Opera House – aside from the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra welcomely visible – and music notes floating on the wall at the back, to the final bow which brings all the dancers together in a joyful and colourful whirlwind, to rapturous applause, I Got Rhythm is a delight.

The production has a short run, finishing on Sunday, so do not tarry lest you be filled with regret.

CTCB’s Chanté Daniels, photo by Kim Stevens

I Got Rhythm is a collaboration between Cape Town City Ballet, Jazzart Dance Theatre and Joburg Ballet, along with several guest soloists. Joining them and the orchestra are members of Cape Town Opera, making for a diverse and well-rounded show. Choreography is by CTCB artistic producer David Nixon CBE set to the music of George Gershwin, known for his work in classical and jazz styles, the combination of which makes the perfect accompaniment to this discipline.

David Ward, guest artist from BalletMet USA, photo by by Kim Stevens

The ballet classics are all well and good (and often centuries old) but it’s such a relief to be able to simply sit back, relax and enjoy the dancing and music for their own sake without having to try work out the story, or who the character is, if you have not read or heard the plot details before, which can be intimidating and let’s be honest, confusing. It allows your mind to focus simply on the beauty and grace of the dancers. Which is not to say there aren’t stories being told, metaphors at play, or characters being defined; they’re just a lot less complicated than Swan Lake or even The Nutcracker. It’s accessible shows such as this that can hopefully encourage a new audience.

Photo by Kim Stevens

The show is further significant for being the opening move for CTCB’s 90th anniversary year. It’s the oldest ballet company in the southern hemisphere and even older than the New York City Ballet, which is a mere 76 years old.

I Got Rhythm is a fitting tribute to the milestone of this historic company,” said Nixon, “a jubilant celebration not only of Gershwin’s genius but also of the rich cultural tapestry of Cape Town.”

There are so many standout moments, it’s impossible to list them all, or single out dancers (who change with different performances anyway), but here’s something to look out for: the women do not wear tights (neither do the men, which is frankly a relief) and it makes an incredible difference to the visual effect of their legs and how those muscles work. Très interesting choice.

I Got Rhythm is at the Artscape Opera House from 17 to 26 May 2024 with matinees at 2.30pm and evening performances at 7.30pm. Tickets from R180 to R750 through Webtickets and Artscape Dial-A-Seat 021 421 7695.

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