Sheila Chisholm

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Sheila Chisholm (1935-) is a Cape Town based ballet teacher and administrator, journalist, reviewer and radio announcer.


The daughter of composer Erik Chisholm and his wife Diana, she was born in Glasgow, the sister to Fiona Chisholm and Morag Chisholm. They came to South Africa in 1946 when their father was appointed Principal and Dean of the College of Music at the University of Cape Town (UCT).

Having completed her schooling at Rustenburg Girls' High School, Cape Town, she studied dancing at UCT Ballet School under Dulcie Howes and became a soloist of the UCT Ballet Company. A serious back injury however prevented her from making ballet a career, so she set up and ran her own studios in Rondebosch, Tulbagh and Malmesbury while also studying drama. After her marriage she moved to Durbanville, continued teaching on a part-time basis while helping her husband in his surgery and rearing three daughters.

Contribution to South African Theatre, Film, Media and Performance

In 1976 she was appointed to head the ballet department of the then Department of Coloured Affairs, setting and running 140 ballet schools throughout the Republic and Namibia.

After her husband’s death in 1988 she left Durbanville to live in Newlands, where she continued her work as Principal Advisor of Ballet until she took early retirement.

In 1994 she was invited to start writing dance reviews for the Cape Times, and this extended into writing articles about dance related subject and reviews for Amateur Dramatic productions.

In 1997 she became a Fine Music Radio presenter , doing the Midday Concert for a number of years, later Classical Choice on Tuesday mornings from 09.00 – 12.00, Thursday Matinee every second week, and so on. After 25 years she retired from FMR in September 2022.

In 2015 she completed the manuscript of a document entitled "The founding of Maynardville Open Air Theatre", in which she seeks to rectify the misconception that the theatre was first established in 1955 by actresses Cecilia Sonnenberg and René Ahrenson. She shows that it was actually established in 1950 through the efforts of Mrs Margaret Molteno and the members of the Athlone Committee for Nursery School Education, a fundraising institution for charitable causes on the Cape Flats, and the venue opened with ballet performances put on by Dulcie Howes and Erik Chisholm.

An article, entitled Dances in the Park: The pre-history of the Maynardville Open Air Theatre, co-authored by Sheila and Temple Hauptfleisch, and primarily based on Sheila's document, was published in Shakespeare in Southern Africa in 2022.


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