Centre stage for Camps Bay pupils

Camps Bay High School pupils Mia Neethling and Nina Mercorio are taking part in the Cape Town City Ballet production of Sleeping at Artscape this month.

Two Camps Bay High School pupils have been selected to perform in the Cape Town City Ballet production of Sleeping Beauty, which is on at the Artscape Theatre until Sunday September 18.

Nina Mercorio and Mia Neethling, both 17 years old and in Grade 11, have had to juggle their academic studies as well as social lives to pursue their passion for dance but this doesn’t bother them one bit.

Nina has been dancing since she was five and Mia, since she was just three.

The Atlantic Sun caught up with them as they were finishing their final dress rehearsal on Thursday September 1. The show opened at Artscape last Friday September 2.

The pupils dance every day for at least an hour and a half. On Saturdays, their day starts at 8am and finishes at 5pm. While most teenagers are at the beach or at the mall, they will be in the studio perfecting their steps.

“We are excited. We don’t really feel nervous anymore,” said Nina. They both perform during the Garland Dance in the popular ballet.

Nina, who is an independent dancer but also dances with the Cape Junior Ballet, said dancing was something that had appealed to her from an early age. “I just grew to love it. You have to be very driven (to pursue ballet). You have to have time and must not let other things get in the way. You have to open up your schedule. It’s a very good sport to do because it tones your muscles and you have to be healthy for it.”

She said doing so many productions while keeping up academic results in an important school year meant they were very busy.

“You have to manage your time. Our parents are very supportive as well,” she said.

Nina said being on stage was an adrenalin rush. “When you are about to go on stage you feel nervous but when you are on stage you feel completely relaxed.”

Mia agreed and said that ballet dancing had always been something she wanted to pursue as a career. “I’ve been dancing for 13 years and I loved it because I watched some DVDs of ballet and I kept begging my mom to (let me) start ballet. For me it’s always been my priority.”

She encouraged others to take up the dance style. “You have to commit yourself 100 percent; if you don’t then it is probably not going to work out. When you’re on the stage, because you love it so much, you feel very happy.”

Both the dancers are hoping to pursue dance as a career one day but say that ballet needs more support in Cape Town.

“Ballet is a dying art because there is not enough support from the local community. The arts are not very popular and I think the market in Europe and the US is far greater for dancing,” said Mia.

They said that audiences coming to watch the Sleeping Beauty production can expect a very classical ballet. Mia said: “It’s very traditional and one of the first ballets. If you are looking for a very beautiful, classical ballet you should come and see it. It has an appeal for children because it has fun characters and will appeal to a more mature audience because it is a love story.”