Lead dancer back on stage of first steps

As a little girl she honed her ballet skills on the Port Elizabeth Opera House stage and this week Meghan Henegan returns as the soloist and lead in Cape Town Ballet Company’s production Thumbelina.

Meghan Henegan is the lead soloist in ‘Thumbelina’.
Picture: Supplied

Now a lead soloist for the Cape Town Ballet Company, Henegan, 25, said she had wanted to be a dancer from when she started school at Clarendon Park Primary.

“I remember begging my mom to let me start ballet classes, because all my friends had started ballet.

“She made me wait until the second term to start lessons, just to make sure it was something I really wanted to do and was going to stick with,” Henegan said.

At the age of seven, Henegan, an only child, began her dance career with ballet teacher Marlene Rubidge. She received her first pair of pointe shoes when she was 11.

“I used to jump around and practise at home every day and I was so excited when I got my first pair of pointe shoes that I refused to take them off after class,” she said.

Henegan, whose mother died when she was 15, lost her father three years ago. She said she was thankful for the way they had raised her.

“They never made me doubt that this was something I could do with my life.

“Looking back, I can understand it was probably a scary thought for my dad, being an engineer, that his daughter wanted to be a ballerina.”

Taking inspiration from “many places”, Henegan said she admired many international artists, especially those in the Royal Ballet in London.

After matriculating in 2010 from Victoria Park High School – where she enjoyed doing contemporary dance with Candice Johnson – Henegan moved to Cape Town to study dance at the University of Cape Town’s School of Dance.

“I completed my first year of studies before joining Cape Town City Ballet as a graduate in 2012.

“I knew I wanted to join a professional company after I matriculated and the only opportunities to do that in South Africa are in Cape Town or Johannesburg.”

After dancing her way through a long list of local dance festivals while growing up, Henegan had to look elsewhere to pursue ballet as a career after school.

“I think I am just enjoying being able to do my passion as a full-time job, which not many people get to do in life,” she said, adding that she would like to do a teacher’s exam as well.

Asked what it meant to come back to her hometown to perform as a soloist and lead, Henegan said it could not be put into words.

“I don’t think I am able to describe what it means to me to be able to come back and perform on the stage that helped mould me as a dancer and person,” she said.

“My love and passion for ballet started on the Opera House stage, so to be able to come back as a soloist and perform alongside a new generation of dancers is an amazing opportunity – one that I will cherish for a long time.”

Henegan will be joined on stage by 60 Bay and six Cape Town-based dancers.

Bookings are open at Computicket for performances at 7pm tomorrow and on Friday and at 3pm and 6.30pm on Saturday.

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