Art often imitates life and artists use their art to document aspects of life such as political and cultural issues. Painters, filmmakers, writers, and musicians are well-known for their contributions to society by documenting the time, but dancers have also done the same.
In fact, ballet dancers are currently working towards protecting the cultural heritage of South Africa at the annual Ballet In The Bush show.
During Ballet In The Bush, dancers from South Africa and other countries around the world come together to perform for rhinos in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. That’s right, they perform for rhinos. Why, you ask? This is all an effort to inform the public about the epidemic surrounding rhino poaching.
Adiarys Almeida was one of the first dancers to participate in this annual event in 2014. The Cuban-American dancer recalls, “I was scared at first, but then it was fine. It was actually amazing to have them so close…I mean, I came back for the experience, but also for the good cause of like, saving the rhinos. And I think it’s just fantastic.”
The project’s intention is to support ballet in Limpopo by having well-known teachers and dancers perform there. The other intention is to form an interest around rhinos amongst the public and in return, receive protection from poachers.
There are about 200 people who come out and watch the Ballet In The Bush performance ever year. On average, the project raises about $1,400 annually. In addition, about 50 children from Limpopo join the ballet dancers for workshops and performances.
Fran Makamola was one of the participating locals this year. He says, “I enjoyed the show the most. I learned a lot of new things. And I also enjoyed watching the rhinos and learning about the rhinos, and that they are very special animals, and we should care for them more.”
The organizer of the South African International Ballet Competition, Dirk Badenhorst tells VOA News that there are dancers from the U.S. who have participated in the program. Badenhorst added, “It shows that there is this working together and willing and wantingness to help achieve in South Africa what they have achieved in the United States of America.”
The creator of the Now Or Never African Wildlife Trust, Arrie van Deventer says that rhinos are currently in dancer in Limpopo because poachers have killed their mothers. “They are facing definite extinction if this carries on. So, the more people that hear this message, that hear of the plight of the rhino, the better,” says Van Deventer.
Fortunately, officials have reported a decrease in the number of poaching cases in South Africa. This, however, does not mean the end of rhino poaching in the country