Profile on Veronica Paeper

Choreographer

Producer

Artistic Director

Cape Town City Ballet

Veronica Paeper was born in Port Shepstone, RSA. She received her ballet training under the tutelage of Dulcie Howes at the UCT Ballet School, where she also studied with David Poole, Pamela Chrimes and Frank Staff. Staff, whom she married in 1966, and from whom she drew and continues to draw great inspiration, was to have a profound influence on her later work as a choreographer.

During her performing career Veronica rose to become a principal dancer with three South African companies; CAPAB Ballet, PACT Ballet and PACOFS Ballet.

Veronica began choreographing in 1972. Her first work, created for CAPAB Ballet, was John the Baptist, a dramatic one act ballet set to music by Ernest Bloch; scenery and costumes were designed by Peter Cazalet, an innovative, witty artist who would remain Paeper's most frequent artistic collaborator for the next 25 years. A prolific choreographer, Veronica has created more than 40 ballets, amoung them sixteen full-lenght works.

 

In 1974 Veronica was appointed resident choreographer for CAPAB Ballet. Noteable among the works she added to the company's repotoire are Fantastique (1975) and Concerto for Charlie (1979), two one-act ballets set to music by Dimitri Shostakovich; Ohm (1976), a pas de deux, and the one-act Drie Diere (1980) both set to music by the contemporary South African composer Peter Klatzow; and such full lenght classics as Romeo and Juliet (1974), Cinderella (1975) and Don Quixote (1979).

The 1980's were an even more productive decade for Veronica Paeper. She continued to explore her interest in the music of Peter Klatzow in Still Life with Moonbeams (1981) and Verpers (1985) and she made two remarkable works to the music of David Earl, The Return of the Soldier (1982) and Abelard and Elouise (1985). In 1982 she also created two three-act works that must be counted as among her most successful productions: the rollicking Orpheus in the Underworld set to music of Offenbach and A Christmas Carol set to a score arranged by David Tidboald from music by various composers. These were followed by Spartacus (1984), Nell Gwynne (1984), which was set to music by Rossini, The Tales of Hoffman (1985), Carmen (1987) and The Merry Widow (1988), all three-act works.

On October 1, 1987, Veronica Paeper was appointed Assistant Director of CAPAB Ballet, retaining her position as resident choreographer. When David Poole retired she took up the post as Director of CAPAB Ballet on January 1, 1991.

 

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Administrative duties did not staunch the flow of Veronica Paeper's creativity. Camille (1990), a three-act work set to the music of Guiseppe Verdi, was followed by Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (1990), The Nutcracker (1991), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1993) and Walpurgisnacht (1993). Two exceptional works from the early 1990's were a two-act production of Hamlet (1992), set to a commitioned score by Peter Klatzow, and a three-act work of quite a different nature, Sylvia in Hollywood (1993) set to a score composed and arranged by Allen Stephenson, including his arrangements of the familiar ballet music of Leo Delibes.

She has twice won the coveted Nederburg Award for Ballet in the Cape, in 1980 and 1992, and in 1993 she shared with Peter Klatzow the Artes Award for Best Contribution to Serious Music and Dance for their collaboration on Hamlet. In 1994 she gained international recognition for her company when it became the first South African ballet company to tour abroad. The repertoire for the two-week season at the Sadlers Wells Theatre in London consisted entirely of works by South African choregraphers.

The Cape Town City Ballet was launched on 18 April 1997 with Veronica Paeper's latest three-act ballet, The Story of Manon Lescaut, to music by Massenet and arranged by Michael Tuffin.