This month marks six months since I’ve made Joburg Ballet my home. That milestone leaves me in disbelief: in one sense feeling as though I’ve been here for much longer but also wrapping my head around how fast time has passed.

We closed the last quarter of 2023 with some great artistic and box office successes in our Don Quixote season at Joburg Theatre in October, our Nutcracker performances at Montecasino’s Teatro and a tour to Durban’s Playhouse Theatre in December. We’ve been hard at work to make this year even more exciting than 2023 with a string of new commissions from world-renowned choreographers, two much-loved classical ballets produced by and starring  thrilling international guest artists alongside our own Joburg Ballet stars, and the world premiere of a ballet based on a beloved children’s classic to top it off!

We’ve been busy operationally, aligning strategy, redefining our value propositions, restructuring and capacitating, all to re-introduce Joburg Ballet to our industry, corporates and stakeholders as a Company well-positioned for shared-value partnerships through brand alignment, social development, and education.

And as part of this I am proud to announce the appointment of the talented and accomplished Kim Vieira as Joburg Ballet’s new Ballet Mistress. With a wealth of experience in professional ballet companies in South Africa and abroad, Kim brings her knowledge and expertise to our studios and through her coaching and teaching will bring out the best in our talented professional dancers.

Now, the reason we’re gathered today: SCARCITY.

With 2024 being our 30th year of democracy in South Africa, we believe it is important for Joburg Ballet to engage in the current moment for our country. With the City of Joburg as a major stakeholder, we felt it essential to respond artistically to the experiences and lives of our fellow citizens in the best way we knew how – through dance.

Humans are resilient and remarkable, yet with limited resources and opportunities what impact does this scarcity leave on the individual? What we have as an answer is an array of emotional responses in a range of storytelling styles, all in response to one word: SCARCITY.

Our dancers have been working non-stop to put together four new ballets since they came back from break a month ago.

Craig Pedro’s Ukukhanya Kwenyanga: A Moonlight Waltz delves into the resilience and hope of South Africans. The love that blossoms in the dark, a classical ballet created by the light of the moon.

Jorge Pérez Martínez’s Azul is alive and spirited, set to Spanish guitar compositions and told with a fluidity of movement. Jorge is Spanish and lives in the Netherlands where this work was created with a number of Dutch collaborators. We are therefore grateful to the Embassies of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Spain in South Africa for their partnership and support making it possible for Joburg Ballet to bring this work to South Africa.

Chinese-German choreographer Hannah Ma has created The Void for our Company, delving into the vastness of the human soul to remind us of the beauty of human existence and the value of life.

And finally, renowned South African choreographer Dada Masilo has created her first piece on Joburg Ballet – Salomé. Her interpretation of Oscar Wilde’s play, Dada’s Salomé explores desire, power and unbridled passion in an exhilarating and textured narrative.

This jam-packed first season will tour to Oudtshoorn for the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (KKNK) after the season at the Joburg Theatre in March. SCARCITY will also tour to the Pam Golding Theatre at the Baxter Centre in Cape Town in late October.

If you’re asking yourselves how do they top that, I’ll give you a little insight to the rest of the year:

We open the beloved classical ballet The Sleeping Beauty on 28 June at Joburg Theatre. Produced by La Scala School’s Sophie Sarrote, the production will feature international guest star Guillaume Diop from the Paris Opera Ballet and will be supported by Institut Francais; Nelson Peña Núñez, Principal Dancer of the Abay Kazakh State Ballet Theatre in Kazakstan; and Ryoko Yagyu, Principal Dancer at Ballet Ireland.

Shortly thereafter Joburg Ballet will stage a firm favourite, Veronica Paeper’s La Traviata- The Ballet for five performances at Montecasino’s Teatro from 2 August.

Finally, Joburg Ballet will present the world premiere season of a new full-length ballet, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, at the Joburg Theatre from 4 to 13 October. Inspired by writer Roald Dahl’s children’s classic, the ballet is being created and choreographed by Joburg Ballet’s own Mario Galgione to an entirely original score composed by Mark Cheyne.

In closing I would like to thank our stakeholders the City of Joburg and Joburg City Theatres for the many years of support. I’d like to again extend appreciation to our partners for SCARCITY: The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in South Africa and the Embassy of Spain in South Africa for their support.

We look forward to seeing you all at the ballet.