2006 Photo Contest, Arts and Entertainment, 1st prize

Shayne Robinson

PhotoWire Africa for The Globe and Mail

24 November, 2005

A young dancer exercises at the barre during a ballet class. Dance mistress Penny Thloloe runs classes not only for the children's enjoyment, but also in the hope that ballet might provide a ticket out of the township for some of her students, as it did once for her. In the apartheid years Penny got the chance to study ballet at a semi-private school, won a scholarship to London and was later a founder dancer in the Ballet Theatre Afrikan. Alexandra has over 60 percent unemployment and many of its children orphaned by Aids. Penny had to go to some lengths to explain that classes were entirely free of charge and that some students might go on to earn money by dancing. Over 1,000 children came to her first audition, of which 37 were selected to begin classes in January.

About the photographer

Shayne Robinson

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