Gugulethu brothers turn to ballet during Covid-19 lockdown

17 May 2020 - 00:00 By PHILANI NOMBEMBE
Hlumelo Ntshangana puts himself through a dance and fitness routine behind his house in Gugulethu, Cape Town.
Hlumelo Ntshangana puts himself through a dance and fitness routine behind his house in Gugulethu, Cape Town.
Image: Esa Alexander

It's a warm Saturday morning in Gugulethu, Cape Town, and the streets are full of children even though the area has one of SA's highest Covid-19 infection rates.

Behind a modest three-bedroomed home, brothers Hlumelo and Mihlali Ntshangana are doing their bit to help flatten the curve by practising ballet rather than heading out.

"I miss my dance classes but we keep stretching at home and having fun. We don't want to go out in the streets," said Hlumelo, 15.

"Ballet keeps us disciplined and focused. We want to become professionals one day and we have realised that we should use this opportunity to perfect our technique.

"We wish other kids could do the same. We are scared of the coronavirus, and we have heard a lot about it in the news. This has become our daily routine."

Mihlali, 19, said: "It has been really hard for us since lockdown started because we have nowhere to practise. So we decided to use the space at the back of our home to train and keep ourselves fit and to maintain our technique."

We are scared of the coronavirus, and we have heard a lot about it in the news. This has become our daily routine
Hlumelo Ntshangana

Their mother, Linda Ntshangana, said she was grateful to the Zama Dance School, where her sons had learnt discipline as well as ballet.

"They are well behaved at home, church and school. Their ballet teachers have taught them so well," she said.

"I also play my part as well; I encourage them to attend rehearsals and to shoot videos of their training sessions for memories. More than anything, I encourage them to have fun and be children."

Zama director Andrew Warth said he had been teaching ballet in the township since 2008.

"Zama Dance School opened its doors 30 years ago in the heart of Gugulethu when the school's founder, the late Arlene Westergaard, and Pick n Pay's Raymond Ackerman came together to create a safe dance space in the heart of the townships," said Warth.

"The dance training has always been based on the classical ballet technique but Zama dancers also learn tap, contemporary and African fusion.

"For the past nine years I have worked with the amazing ballet teacher Leanne Voysey, and together we teach our 100 students three ballet classes a week and spend most Saturdays and Sundays working on competitions and shows."

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