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President Ramaphosa mourns the death of SA dance icon Johaar Mosaval

President Cyril Ramaphosa has extended his condolences to the family and associates of the Internationally acclaimed South African ballet dancer, Johaar Mosaval, following his passing, aged 95, on Wednesday, August 16.

Pretoria – President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed his sadness at the passing of Dr. Johaar Mosaval, the retired pioneering dancer and Esteemed Member of the National Order of Ikhamanga.

“President Ramaphosa offers his deep condolences to the family and associates nationally and internationally of Mr. Mosaval, who has passed away at the age of 95,” the Presidency said Thursday.

The Artscape Theatre announced Mosaval’s passing on Wednesday.

“Artscape is saddened by the news that one of its own has passed away. Johaar Mosaval was our living legend,” read the statement.

A statement issued by the family said Mosaval sustained an injury three months ago.

The statement read: “Subsequently, he was admitted to Groote Schuur Hospital on Thursday, June 22, where a diagnosis of severe osteoarthritis in his spine was established.

“During his two-week hospital stay, he underwent treatment and focused on recuperation.

“However, Dr. Mosaval’s health took another unfortunate turn. On Thursday, August 3, he was readmitted to the hospital due to severe dehydration.

“He passed away in the early hours of Wednesday, August 16. May his soul rest in peace.”

In 2019, President Ramaphosa bestowed the National Order of Ikhamanga (Gold) on Mosaval for his exceptional contribution to the performing arts, particularly ballet dancing.

His exceptional talent led him to be the first black South African to become a senior principal dancer at the Royal Ballet in the United Kingdom.

A resident of District Six, Mosaval was the first black South African to become a senior principal dancer at the Royal Ballet, which is the highest rank in the profession at one of the world’s most prestigious classical ballet companies.

His journey to the Royal Ballet at the height of apartheid saw him dancing for Queen Elizabeth II and being the first black performer on the ‘whites-only’ Nico Malan stage in the 1970s.

Mosaval performed, mostly as a soloist, all over the globe, and has shared the stage with the likes of prima ballerinas Margot Fonteyn, Elaine Fifield, and Doreen Wells.

He became revered for his wide-ranging styles and flawless technique and was chosen to dance in Benjamin Britten’s Opera Gloriana, the first performance presented at the Royal Opera House, London, in 1953, during the celebrations of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

After two years in London, Mosaval excelled at his studies and returned home in 1976.

He started teaching in Mitchells Plain and Paarl in the Western Cape. While dancing in Michel Fokine’s Petruskha, Mosaval’s contract stated that he was not allowed to touch a white ballet dancer with his bare hands.

By 1975, the theatre allowed all races onto its premises, but black people required a permit to enter. As a result, the boycott of the theatre lasted until the end of apartheid.

Mosaval opened his own ballet school in 1977 and was employed as the first black Inspector of Schools of Ballet under the then Administration of Coloured Affairs.

He resigned this position when he discovered that he could share his expertise only with a certain segment of the population.
Subsequently, the apartheid regime closed his school because it was multiracial.

Following the principles of his mentor, Dulcie Howes, Mosaval wanted to share his knowledge and love of ballet with students of all races, so he continued to find ways to dance and to teach.

President Ramaphosa said: “The passing of Johaar Mosaval is a great loss to our nation’s cultural treasury”. He added: “Johaar Mosaval was an outstanding human being and creative who complimented his personal achievements with a deep interest in developing the communities in which he lived and performed.

“His life story is one that fills us at one level with pride and inspiration but which also reopens for us the inhumanity and hurt that apartheid inflicted on individuals and entire sectors of our society, including our cultural life and the performing arts.

“Under difficult conditions, Johaar Mosaval enjoyed and leveraged his life of celebrity to create a legacy of to the people of Cape Town and our nation more broadly. May he rest in peace.”

*Original article: President Ramaphosa Mourns Passing Of Dance Master Johaar Mosaval – The Bulrushes

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