South African Mzansi Ballet dancers perform while a Mango Boeing 737-800 flies over.
• Hein Keiser
Mango Corporate Affairs
+27 82 520 0555
An unprecedented collaboration between low-cost airline Mango and Johannesburg-based South African Mzansi Ballet took place at the annual South African Air Force (SAAF) Museum air show, held at Air Force Base Swartkops on May 11.
The performance saw a gigantic Mango Boeing 737-800, flown by Captain Scully Levin and Chief Pilot Quentin Mouton, synchronising its movements in the air with those of graceful ballet dancers on the ground. The dancers were dressed in the bright orange of the Mango livery. The audience of 35 000 was the largest yet for a ballet performance in Africa.
The performance was precisely choreographed and although it was just seven minutes long, it was one of the most important for the company, said Mzansi Ballet CEO Dirk Badenhorst.
“It is very important in terms of funding to find creative and innovative ways to place ourselves in a space where different people can experience us, and break the stigma that ballet is only for theatres,” he said, adding that by partnering with Mango, the company had been able to create the performance of a lifetime.
Preparation for the show took about three weeks. Hein Kaiser from Mango Corporate Affairs said that Captain Levin worked out a routine, from which the choreography was created. “We wanted to make it really special and we wanted people to work with us on a deeper level.”
Award-winning dancer Kitty Phetla had been looking forward to the showcase. “This will also give us a chance to show people what we as a dance company can do,” she said.
The relationship between Mango and South African Mzansi Ballet started three years ago, and now the airline flies the company’s dancers all over South Africa.
Mango also hosted a career expo for some 3 000 pupils, with 30 exhibitors within the sector teaching the children about aviation. It was the airline’s fourth such event – Mango launched its career and job shadow programme in Athlone, Western Cape earlier this year.
South African Air Force Museum
The South African Air Force Museum celebrated 40 years in 2013, and this was the theme for the event. This year’s edition was the first to be held under the recently established joint command that includes Air Force Base Swartkops, the SAAF Mobile Deployment Wing and the former Air Force Gymnasium, which is now home to the Siyandiza youth aviation awareness initiative and the air force’s cookery school.
About 100 planes, both military and civilian, flew on the day. The show featured a line-up of modern as well as vintage aircraft such as a Cheetah, an Impala, two Vampires, and Tiger Moths, among others.
The Silver Falcons were the only military planes participating. They are the SAAF’s official aerobatic team, but will not be seen again this year because of budget cuts.
The SAAF Museum air show won the award for best South African air show in 2011 and 2012. This accolade is handed out by the Aero Club of South Africa, a composite body representing all sectors of sport, recreational and private aviation.
Lt Col Clive Shepherd of the South African Air Force Museum said the institution considers itself lucky to have people from Mango associated closely with it; these include pilots who have kept up a good relationship between the airline and the museum. Some Mango pilots are associated with the Harvard Club of South Africa, which flies and maintains vintage Harvards.
Shepherd said that the show received sponsorship from Time Aviation, the exclusive representative for Bombardier Business Aircraft in Africa, which made a contribution of R75 000 (US$8 000), as well as defence and aerospace firm Paramount Group, which donated R175 000 ($19 000) towards fuel for the aircraft.
“We have been fortunate now to have an air show for the last five years,” he said. “We have had air shows before but they were stopped for several years. We are hoping for a bigger and better one in the future.”