In the (pointe) shoes of a prima ballerina

In the (pointe) shoes of a prima ballerina

Burnise Silvius is Joburg Ballet’s prima ballerina, an exceptionally talented and beautiful dancer, we asked her a few questions about what it takes to do what she does (and so elegantly at that)…

What does it take to be Cinderella, and how is it different to your other roles with Joburg Ballet?

Every role is so different and each one brings different challenges! Cinderella may not be the most dramatic role in terms of performance, like Juliet in Romeo and Juliet or the lead role in Giselle and it’s not quite as demanding physically as dancing a dual role like Odette and Odile in Swan Lake. But there are some very beautiful and quite technically challenging pas de deux for Cinderella and the Prince in the ballet – it’s a very romantic role. As a performer you also have to be sure you’re taking the audience on a journey with you and that they really believe in the transformation from the downtrodden Cinderella in Act I to the confident young woman in love in Act II.

Please share your favourite moment in Cinderella with us?

My favourite moment has to be when Cinderella climbs into the carriage to be driven to the ball – it’s completely magical. She’s wearing her new ball dress, she’s full of excitement and expectation and, when I’m on stage then, I really do feel like I’m in a fairytale for a while!

How would you describe Joburg Ballet’s Cinderella, and why should everybody see this season of the ballet?

Cinderella is the ultimate rags to riches fairytale and our production is so enchanting, with beautiful designs by Andrew Botha and great choreography by our artistic director Iain MacDonald. I think the whole audience will be transported for a while, it’s pure escapism.

It’s also such lovely music to dance to – the score is by Johann Strauss II, who composed the famous Blue Danube waltz, so you’re sure to leave Joburg Theatre humming some of his memorable music. It’s also a very accessible, family-friendly production, with lots of comic moments. Everyone knows the story of Cinderella and, with a running time of just under two hours, it’s perfect for even young ballet lovers.

Who would you say is the rising star in the cast that we should follow?

There’s a lot of great young talent in Joburg Ballet at the moment, so it’s hard to single people out, but two dancers to definitely watch are Shana Dewey and Megan Gerber in the corps de ballet. I think they’ll both go far.

Finally, what would you say to young dancers trying to progress their ballet careers in South Africa?

Practise, practice, practice – you need to work hard every day to make it as a professional ballet dancer. A great support network is really key too and don’t forget to have a life outside the studio. Go to see movies, spend time with your friends – everyone needs to unwind!

Catch Burnise live on stage in Cinderella at Joburg Theatre from 30 September to 9 October. Edgars Club members can save up to R90 per ticket for this spectacular performance.


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