Ghetto Ballet (2009)
35min · Short · 30 December 2009
Gehtto Ballet follows the inter-linked stories of a number of students in a groundbreaking program called Dance For All. The raison d'etre of the program - founded by Philip Boyd and his late wife Phyllis Spira - is to give disadvantaged kids in the townships the opportunity to study ballet and, if they are lucky, find a way out by joining a professional ballet company. We wanted to showcase this process in all its glory and sadness; the competition is fierce and the slots are few - so even if someone wins a coveted place, many more are bound to be disappointed.Filming over a number of months with a small intimate crew, we followed students as they battled the odds and their demons to try and stick with the program. It is routinely expected that young men coming of age in the townships prove their manhood by getting a girl pregnant and while they may have the best of intentions in so doing, the reality is that rarely can the young couple support themselves, let alone a baby. Simbahle, who is one of the most vocal members of the class, exhorts her colleagues not to go this route and to keep focused on the program. Meanwhile she must try and convince her mother to let her continue to dance and try to shed the extra pounds that are hurting her chances of becoming a ballerina. Everything is leading to the auditions at the end of the semester. One of the students gets pre-emptively picked for the Capetown City Ballet and Simbahle does her audition only to learn she was passed over in favor of another student. The townships are a notorious no-go zone for media and often police. Winning the trust and co-operation of citizens is a long process for which there can be no short cuts. Director / Producer Jeremy Simmons immersed himself in the locale.
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