Ballerinas all on their toes

Pericles Anetos

SIX aspiring ballerinas from Jacqueline’s Ballet School have taken their first steps to the grand stage by completing their Grade 1 Cecchetti Ballet exams. Ballerinas Demi Walters, Rachel Lategan, Camden Whittaker and Caitlin Pautz, between the ages of 10 and 11, were thrilled with their achievements.

Six-year-olds Tyra Naidoo and Ankia Kapp passed their Pre-Primary Cecchetti Ballet Exams.

As one of only five Cecchetti teachers in Port Elizabeth, Jacqueline Walters, owner of Jacqueline’s Ballet School, teaches a method that differs from the Royal Academy in technique.

It also incorporates slightly different nuances in certain movements. The technique was developed by the Italian ballet master Enrico Cecchetti (1850–1928).

The young ballerinas, who did their exams last month, were examined by Diana Ward-Hull.

Walters said that taking a ballet exam was quite a daunting experience.

“It is just you and the examiner. No one is allowed to go in with you… and you get marked on every step you do, so it’s quite a thing for a little kid and I’m really proud of them.”

Rachel, 11, along with Demi, Jacqueline’s daughter, achieved the highest distinctions.

Rachel, who wants to be a dancer when she is older, said there was “not a worst part of the exam” and “the best part was everything about it. I just love to dance, it runs in my family… every time I dance, I just feel like smiling,” Rachel said.

Walters has been dancing since she was four.

“I think once you start dancing and that bug bites you, it’s in your blood.”

Walters qualified as a Cecchetti teacher when she was 19-years-old, one of the youngest in the Eastern Cape to qualify.

After working in the secretarial field for many years, Walters realised she was wasting her Cecchetti qualification. She then started her Newton Park school in July last year and already has 40 pupils.

Walters described teaching as a “phenomenal experience”.

“It’s amazing, what makes it so special is all the little kids love you so much.”

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