The JB Development Programme provides a safe and structured environment for children to grow socially, as well as to introduce them to the joy and benefits of classical ballet while exposing them a potential career in the performing arts. Another primary focus is to teach children from previously disadvantaged backgrounds valuable etiquette and leadership skills through the art of dance, as well as exposure to role models. Once in the programme, children are instilled with a feeling of pride and self-worth through artistic performances. JB aims to give these children a solid classical ballet training should they wish to pursue a career in professional dance, as well as to offer them exposure to other careers in the sector such as lighting design, arts management, costume design.

Personal interest in individual children’s circumstances enable JB teachers to understand each child’s specific requirement, and to assist these often vulnerable children in becoming socially responsible and culturally sensitive individuals.

There are approximately 500 children in the programme receiving free lessons in Melville, Alexandra, Braamfontein, Madibatlou, Sophiatown, Soweto and Tshwane. Children are aged 5 to sixteen 16 years old. Once they leave the JB Development School, they are encouraged to audition for the JB Academy and thereafter, the JB Graduate programme.

Classes are offered at no cost to parents, while teachers are on paid a salary. Children are exposed to the professional stage by regularly participating in professional productions such as The Nutcracker, Carmen, Coppélia, The Sleeping Beauty and many more. Others are invited to watch performances.

A select group of children also receive sponsorship to attend Joburg Ballet’s annual Winter School where they are afforded the opportunity to socialise with children from other studios. The Development School enrolls children in annual examinations giving them a formal Cecchetti Society qualification. In 2012, five children from the Development School successfully auditioned to study at the National School of the Arts while others have joined the Johannesburg Youth Ballet.

JB / Air Products Development School-Alexandra

The school in Alexandra was founded in 2001 at the San Kopano Centre by Victor Mohapi and Joburg Ballet. JB approached parents and school principals in areas such asAraganeng and Amukelani to join the programme. Air Products South Africa (Pty) Ltd took naming rights to the Alexandra programme in 2010 by providing significant financial support. There are currently eighty children attending free classes twice a week with a select group of dancers attendingextra class at SAMB’s studios in Braamfontein.

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JB Development School-Melville

The Foundation School is home to the JB Development School-Melville and currently has thirty-four children participating in the programme. This remedial school includes ballet in its curriculum in order to provide children with additional coordination and concentration skills. In 2008, the JB Development School-Melville successfully participated in the Year-End Concert at the South African State Theatre for the first time.

JB Development School-Soweto

After the closure of the studio at Rena le Lona, JB partnered with the City of Johannesburg in 2009 to open a studio at Uncle Tom’s in Soweto. There are currently fifty children enrolled at the Soweto studio with nineteen working towards the annual Cecchetti examination.

JB Development School-Tshwane (Eersterus)The JB Development School-Tshwane was founded in 2002 at the St Peter Claver Hall. Mariliez Fouché started the programme and Hanlie Wydeman took over in 2006. In 2010 the Eersterus programme amalgamated to became The JB Development School-Tshwane. Hanlie has introduced other dance forms such as Hip Hop, Modern and aerobics. She is assisted by Margaret Kgasi or “Gogo” as the children call her. Classes take place on Mondays and Fridays for forty-five children.

JB Development School-Braamfontein

JB opened its newest studio in 2011 to cater for children living in the inner city. The National School of the Arts has generously made their premises available to the Development School onTuesdays and Thursdays.