arts

Inside South Africa's most prestigious ballet

Updated 8th March 2017
Inside South Africa's most prestigious ballet
Shannon Glover is one of South Africa's most prominent ballet dancers. She's tasked with taking on Camellia - the lead role in Alexandre Dumas' tragic romance, and highly prized ballet production - La Traviata.
Choreographed by Veronica Paeper, it's a version that's been a staple of South Africa's ballet season for almost three decades.
Fusing a sweeping dance composition with Giuseppe Verdi's emotional score rearranged for ballet - Paeper's production has been very successful.
Staged by countless ballet companies each year since it was first performed in 1990, the much-loved tale follows the tragic love story of a courtesan and her admirer.
For Joburg Ballet's principal dancer each performance is "addictive."
"It keeps me alive," said Glover. "If you use maybe skydiving or bungee jumping in comparison -- that rush that you get."
Born in Durban, the ballerina started dancing at the age of four, was snapped up by Joburg Ballet aged 18, and promoted to principal dancer just six years ago.
Glover took CNN Africa behind the scenes before the opening performance. "There are many challenges," Glover said of her role.
"One is technique, you are working on technique every single day. Nothing is ever good enough, you know you can do better," said Glover. Such an emotive performance, requires her to step things up a notch.
"It's all about the connection. Dance is not just about learning steps. You are playing a role without any words...
"It's all about your mannerisms, how you look at someone, how you touch someone."
Ballet, she feels, is an important art form: "I touch people everyday, just being able to do that, take people into another world, there's nothing like it.
Watch the video above to go behind the scenes at the Joburg Ballet and see Glover's journey to principal dancer.