Port Elizabeth Ballet Club

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Founding and early history

The Port Elizabeth Ballet Club was founded by a small group of enthusiastic people in April 1946 who were determined to promote a public interest in an art not previously represented in the City.

During its first year, the Club presented a Russian exponent of the impressionistic modern school and folk dancing, Masha Arseneiva, who was accompanied by her husband, Boris Ignaff and Estelle de la Ville.

The Club’s next venture was the presentation at the Opera House of Cape Town University Ballet under the direction of Dulcie Howes.

Port Elizabeth expressed its appreciation of the first-ever ballet season with such warmth to demonstrate that the Club had fulfilled a public service.

At the conclusion of the season, Dulcie Howes graciously accepted the position of Honorary Life Presidency of the Club.

As the first season drew to a close the Club arranged for the world famous interpreter of Spanish music, Adrina Otero, to come to Port Elizabeth where, supported by Estelle de la Ville, they thrilled the audience with their vivacious and polished exhibition.

Masha Arseneiva returned to Port Elizabeth for the second season and the world-renowned artists, Markova and Dolin gave an exhibition of classic and modern ballet.

On May 8 - 12, 1950, the Cape Town University Ballet, under the direction of Dulcie Howes, returned for a series of performances at the Opera House, Port Elizabeth.

The Club held regular meetings with demonstrations and classes by dancing members under the direction of teaching members.

Exhibitions were held which illustrated some of the necessary training required of a ballerina.

Aims and function

The aims were to promote interest in the art of ballet by affording opportunities for students to take part in classic and modern ballet.

Current status

Impact on SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

1953: The Club was one of the organisations which participated in the play King Henry VIII which was staged at the Feather Market Hall to commemorate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.


Port Elizabeth Ballet Club theatre programme - 1950

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