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Background and Facilities

Founded in 1934 by Dr Dulcie Howes, the University of Cape Town Ballet School was the first school of its kind to be attached to a university. Under the directorships of Dr Howes and later David Poole (1975–1985), the School trained dancers and choreographers of international standard.

The School was originally established to train classical ballet dancers and teachers in the British tradition. However, the constant cross-pollination taking place within the South African environment has led the School to broaden its vision and curriculum to reflect the diversity and rhythm which is South Africa. (Photos of the School in action.)

South African dancers have the physique, temperament and ability to make their own unique statement in the world of dance. Nothing can match the demands and artistry of the pure classical technique and this discipline should never be neglected, but dance in South Africa must meld with the country’s volatile circumstances and reflect the rhythms and patterns of Africa in the 21st century.


Today the Ballet School, renamed the School of Dance in 1997, offers an academic programme which includes dance history, music literacy, dance ethnology, drama and teaching methods for classical, contemporary and African dance. The practical programme also encompasses American jazz dance, Spanish and other national dance forms.

Located on the lower campus of the University of Cape Town, the School is located in Woolsack Drive, Rosebank and is bounded by the University’s Administrative Offices, the Faculty of Law and the SA College of Music.

Full-time and part-time faculty members teach in five studios, two of which are shared with the Cape Town City Ballet Company. One of these serves as a studio–theatre for lecture/demonstrations and performances.

In addition to an academic lecture room, the School has tape recorders and audiovisual equipment, all accessible to students. The dance library, contained within the College of Music collection, has a wide selection of books on all aspects of dance, as well as a comprehensive collection of dance journals, CDs and videos.

The student body is drawn from all over Southern Africa, and both University Residence and off-campus accommodation is available.

Financial aid may be offered through ability-based dance scholarships and need-based grants and loans. More information is available from the Student Financial Aid Office (undergraduate funding) or by e-mail from fnd-fees@uct.ac.za.

More information: The Secretary