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Dance fest dates to diarise – twice

Second major Port Elizabeth dance festival launched

Dancers, from left, Luhle Jakavula, Melanie Thompson, Kate Weakley, Michaela Foxcroft, Sarah Hagedorn-Hansen, Louise Daniel, Belinda Taljaard, Rachelle Abels, Britney Shaw, Anneke Claassen, Cara Cannon and Monique Slabbert.
Dancers, from left, Luhle Jakavula, Melanie Thompson, Kate Weakley, Michaela Foxcroft, Sarah Hagedorn-Hansen, Louise Daniel, Belinda Taljaard, Rachelle Abels, Britney Shaw, Anneke Claassen, Cara Cannon and Monique Slabbert.
Image: Brad Peens

A second major Port Elizabeth dance festival has been launched with dates which overlap with those of the original event – even though the organisers of both promise that no tutus will be ruffled nor toes trod on.

Booking opened this week for the Friendly City Dance Festival (FCDF) at the PE Opera House from August 20 to 25, while the original Port Elizabeth Dance Festival (PEDF), which was founded by Jennifer Abrahams and Hermione Ballinger in 1981, runs at the Savoy Theatre from August 20 to September 1.

“Our Friendly City will soon boast a brand new dance festival to foster a love of dance performance for students and audiences,” festival manager Monica Hewitson said.

She said the festival would also be a space to recognise the achievements of dance students.

Hewitson – a longstanding voice for dance in Nelson Mandela Bay – said a group of teachers from studios in Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage and Kirkwood had broken away from the PEDF to create the new event, but she did not foresee a clash.

“Port Elizabeth’s dance community has grown and there is room for two festivals – there are such a lot of dance studios in Port Elizabeth,” she said yesterday.

However, PEDF chairwoman Nici Lovemore – the daughter of the late Ballinger – disagreed.

“I am not of the opinion that PE is big enough for two,” she said yesterday.

“Last year there was an incident which was the straw that broke the camel’s back, but it was resolved.
“There is a very rich legacy that my mum has left and it would have been great if we could have stayed as one, but there was a fallout and a few teachers decided to walk away and start something else.”

Lovemore also took issue with the timing of the new festival as the events start on the same date, which could make it difficult for dancers to take part in both.

“They said they would not choose the same dates but these have been the PEDF dates forever,” she said.

Hewitson said dance studios from Grahamstown, Jeffreys Bay and George had expressed an interest in the new programme which, like the existing festival, was aimed at promoting many genres of dance.

Lovemore said she was relaunching the PEDF to continue her mother’s legacy and aimed to deliver an inclusive festival packed full of entertainment.

The PEDF will showcase a variety of dance styles, such as ballet, contemporary, tap, hip-hop, Spanish, Irish, Indian and African, and create a platform for dancers of all ages to gain and enjoy stage experience.

“My hope is that many Eastern Cape dance studios give their dancers the opportunity to compete and enjoy this fun experience,” Lovemore said.

“The PEDF was started to grow dance and it will remain very inclusive. Everybody who dances on the stage will get recognition.”

Hewitson said the FCDF also would incorporate all the aspects of other national dance festivals, and cater for junior, senior and adult dancers from all dance disciplines.

Both festivals would offer achieving dancers prizes.

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