Naleli dances her way to New York

Naleli Hlalele.
Naleli Hlalele.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

At only 11-years-old Naleli Hlalele is an inspiration to her peers.

The little ballerina who dances for the Joburg Ballet School in Braamfontein is raising funds to travel to the New York Ballet School, where she may study for up to four years if all goes well.

Born in Clayville,Tembisa, Hlalele now lives in Oliphantsfontein near Midrand in Joburg. The little one says she was a grade R pupil at Zwartkop Christian School in Centurion when the ballet company visited and handed out pamphlets about their satelite schools.

"I had never heard or seen of this thing called ballet before this. I then decided to sign up and my parents told me if I get hurt and come crying I must not complain," she giggles.

It took her a year to master the basics.

Now a grade 5 pupil at Wierda Park Primary, she says ballet is not child's play once you start wearing points, which she was introduced to this month.

"It is painful - very painful. But to see dancers like Kitty Phetla doing so well it inspires me to handle the pain. I would like to make this my life and dance until I'm a very old woman."

Hlalele, who has danced in productions such as Cinderella and Carmen, says she looks forward to the summer school in New York where she will be travelling with her grandmother.

"I hope I can raise enough money to attend the summer intensive programme. We have only raised over R1000 and I need more than R400 000 to make it a reality. Initially it will be for a few weeks but if I'm good enough I can stay longer."

To donate funds click here.


Joburg Ballet School and Satellite Schools will have auditions for aspiring young dancers. Closing date to register children is Friday 23 November. Details can be found here.

Naleli Hlalele and Moleboheng Sibiya at Joburg Ballet in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
Naleli Hlalele and Moleboheng Sibiya at Joburg Ballet in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

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