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Satori: a sudden enlightenment

Cape Town City Ballet’s appropriately (and rather deliciously) titled Satori certainly felt like enlightenment, if not so sudden.

We have been watching this incredible transformation for a while. It is a delight to see Debbie Turner and her team breathing of new life into this fabulous ‘old’ ballet company.

Mariette Opperman and Ivan Boonzaaier in Concerto Barocco.
Photo: Paul Seaby

Satori, a trilogy of works – showcasing a broad spectrum of dance and music, from the classic to the very contemporary – seems to perfectly encapsulate the transformation of CTCB.

The first piece, George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco, is a perfect warm up, maybe even a “breaking-in” of the traditionalists.

Set to a score by Johann Sebastian Bach, it is all classic lyricism and technical perfection, setting us up for a night that demonstrates the depth of the skill in this ballet company.

Our senses are all nicely warmed up when South African choreographer Michelle Reid’s Sheeple sets the room on fire.

Hot hot hot: Michelle Reid’s Sheeple. Photograph: Paul Seaby

The choreography is daring, kind of racy even, in its representation of the “power of the masses”. Stunning costumes, which really show off the bodies of these beautiful creatures, leave little to the imagination.

A rousing selection of music by modern composers adds to the mesmerising effect of the piece, which was the highlight of the evening. Very sexy indeed, Ms Reid.

Leané Theunissen and Bradley van Heerden in Kenneth’s Tindall ‘s Polarity. Photo: Paul Seaby

The third and final piece, Polarity, by Kenneth Tindall keeps the temperature in the room on high as it pushes the dancers to the edge physically and artistically.

It is always a privilege to see work from that old favourite George Balanchine, and very exciting to see new work from Tindall, who is described as one of Britain’s most exciting independent choreographers, but I think it is our countrymen and women – Michelle Reid, the dancers of the Cape Town City Ballet, Debbie Turner and her whole team – who deserve the credit here. Wonderful, wonderful stuff.

Watch a short video here

 “Satori is an athletic and breath-taking combination of
classical and neo-classical ballet with an innovative twist,
another superb ‘tasting menu’
for the dance lover and aficionado
Debbie Turner, CEO of Cape Town City Ballet.

(It looks like Debbie is closing in on her stated mission of “giving dancers hope that South Africa is a good option for a professional career”.)

Lighting design by Wilhelm Disbergen

SATORI is at the Artscape Opera House until November 9.
Tickets cost from R150 to R300.
Bookings at Computicket on 0861 915 8000,
online at, or at any Shoprite Checkers outlet.

Other reasons to love this company:

Cape Town City Ballet’s various development and education programmes have reached more than 320,000 young people. Its audience development and training initiatives include the Young Male Dancer Development Programme, The Graduate Programme, a collaboration with the Amy Biehl Foundation, and a partnership with training programme ZAMA Dance School.

The CTCB’s Audience Development Programme has seen 36,824 learners and educators attending performances, many for the first time. The CTCB has also provided free performances for 24,217 people from sub-economic homes, institutions, old age homes, places of safety and farm schools.

For further information visit

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