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media: Private Presley



Sheer pleasure. From the moment you hold the programme (pure nostalgia!) right up to the final curtain.

Despite the sad twist in the tale towards the end of the show, Bovim and his Ballet Company concluded the performance with so much joy that the entire audience jumped up cheering and shouting for more.

The runaway-train story of Elvis Presley’s life was brought together seamlessly.

The costumes were breathtaking and a perfect fit, the few pieces of décor were carefully planned for maximum impact and the dance numbers…. From “Blue Suede Shoes” to “Jailhouse Rock,” from “It’s Now or Never” to “All Shook Up,” from “Love Me Tender” to “Are You Lonesome Tonight,” the Bovim dancers gave scintillating life and heartfelt emotion to the music of the Rock God.

Elvis probably never thought anyone would perform ballet to his music. But if he had seen this performance, he would surely also have jumped up and shouted “encore!”

On the opening night, Elvis was danced by the lightfooted Trevor Schoonraad and the beautiful Priscilla by Nicola van der Merwe. Their pas de deux had the whole audience sighing like a love-struck teenager and Elvis’s loneliness after Priscilla leaves him, evoked a collective moan of sympathy.

The dancing was done with so much joie de vivre that one could easily fail to see the technical skill involved.

To jive, bop and rock ‘n roll en pointe is no mean feat. Bovim succeeds in combining the dance steps of the Fifties and Sixties with classical ballet in such a way that it brings out the best in both.

The whole Company thoroughly deserved the audience’s applause. Attention was given to the finest details. Each dancer had a particular place in each number and the characters were chosen with the eye of a connoisseur.

Simoné Botha’s performance as Natalie Wood was excellent.  Not only is Zandile Constable a skillful dancer, but her facial expressions made one tingle with delight.

No matter how old you are or if you’ve never heard of Elvis Presley – forget your cares for an evening and go and enjoy one of the most enjoyable dance performances to yet hit the Baxter stage.

Lorraine Coetzee
5 June 2013




Private Presley. Wow and wow. What an extraordinary and stunning production!

I’m not a fan of ballet per se, sorry to say, it usually bores me. However, this ballet fusion rocks! I enjoyed the show tremendously and so did the rest of our club members. We did not want the show to end; it was over far too soon!

Our biggest surprise and the proverbial cherry on top was the use of Elvis’ voice – and even more so, the usage of quite a few hidden gems in his catalogue. Well done, you all! I must tell you, the whole production was out of this world, from the choreography to the dancing to the costumes to the décor. It was mind blowing, it was beautiful, it was a feast for the eyes and the ears and, most importantly, to the soul.

Thanks a stack for bringing Private Presley to Cape Town. We have few Elvis-related shows in our country, so this was a treat par-excellence. Please do not hesitate to do a repeat performance in future.

Let me tell you, if modern productions like these have come to stay – and I hope it does – I just may have to change my mind about ballet. Your show made me a fan.

Here’s to looking forward to more rockin’ Bovim fusions!

Yours in Elvis

President EPFCA
Annemarie Swarts

(Elvis Presley Fan Club of Africa)




Choreographer Sean Bovim has a knack for an appealing dance product. He's followed his successful Queen at the Ballet (Freddie Mercury) SwingTime at the Ballet (big band sounds) and Let me Entertain You (Robbie Williams) with Private Presley. A vibrant fantasy about Rock "n" Roll mega-star Elvis Presley.

Well researched, Bovim takes us through Elvis' life between the mid-1950s into the early 1970s.

Since it's premiere earlier this year, Private Presley has undergone cast changes. Namely Trevor Schoonraad has taken over as Elvis. And an excellent interpretation he gave too. Blessed by smouldering good looks, jet black hair, a superb physique, his solo, Surrender, was the high spot. Schoonraad's strong sex appeal, linked to his athleticism, captured the essence of the rhythms that made Elvis the King of Rock "n" Roll.

Of particular note was the Blue Moon pas de six where women dressed in midnight blue, moved in canon with their partners. Another lovely sequence was Schoonraad and Van der Merwe's Love Me Tender Pas de deux. And Zandile Constable amused with her protestations during the drive-in scene with Llewellyn Mnguni (Teddy Bear).

Ever changing patterns, colourful costumes, set changes and Faheem Bardien's intelligent lighting design hold attention. Bovim Ballet rocked up another hit.

Sheila Chisholm
10 June 2013




Same title, same music, same storyline… but this reprise of Sean Bovim’s Private Presley is a very different production from the one staged earlier this year. Not only is it better paced and more crisp in its presentation; it has the considerable bonus of a dynamic lead who arrests attention (as did Elvis) whenever he appears.

Trevor Schoonraad gives a stellar performance as the eponymous hero of Bovim’s account of the King’s private and social life, not only in terms of his execution (confident, athletic, and aesthetically rewarding), but also regarding interpretation of a role which involves a challenging emotional range.

Schoonraad has captured Presley’s signature moves (such as the sleeking of his coiffure and pelvic thrusts) without descend- ing to caricature. He comes up trumps, especially in generating credible chemistry between himself and partner Nicola Van der Merwe (Priscilla Presley).

Van der Merwe turns in an eye-pleasing performance as the love of Presley’s life, and although she is on the tall side – particularly en pointe – for her partner, her grace and body-language distract the viewer from this potential flaw. Her pas de deux with Schoonraad in Can’t Help falling in Love is a major highlight of the show, as is their poignant valedictory dance in Always on my Mind.

Another newcomer to this production is Simoné Botha as Natalie Wood, one of the serial objects of Presley’s affection. She has the requisite glamour and elegance for the part, and her dancing is well up to the demands of Bovim’s choreography. Arguably one of her best moments is the dashing pas de trois with Elvis and his friend Nick Adams (James Bradley), to the hot rhythm of You’re the Devil in Disguise.

Worth noting is the impish characterisation offered by Zandile Constable when she teams up with Llewellyn Mnguni in the drive-in sequence; and the mini-Elvis puppet in Wooden Heart has lost none of its appeal the second time around.

With strengths from the first production still in place, and new ones to complement them, this Private Presley is well worth a visit.

Beverley Brommert
12 June 2013




Bovim Ballet return to Cape Town with Private Presley: A Salute to the King. This time the production moves to The Baxter Theatre. It’s a very good decision as I’m sure audiences will love to take a second view, and anyone new to the production will have a chance to take in the spectacle. You may notice that I do not say ballet audiences as Private Presley: A Salute to the King is so much more than a ballet. It’s a nostalgic romp through the life of the king of  rock and roll, marrying classical ballet with rock and roll dance styles. From my previous review from the run at Artscape in March 2013: … seems a huge challenge, but choreographer and director Sean Bovim has taken the twist, be-bop, Lindy Hop, and many of the recognised dance styles of the fifties, sixties and early seventies and fused them with classical ballet, creating a sort of hybrid style which is both fascinating and pleasing. For the girls, much of the dance remains en pointe, which as Bovim explains in the programme notes, proved to be physically very taxing on the dancers. They seemed for the full duration, to be taking it in their stride…

A few tweaks are evident; the long scene changes have been shortened and tightened up, all the music is original, but most of all, like a fine wine, Private Presley: A Salute to the King has matured and improved. I was particularly impressed with the soloists, all precise in their interpretation. This time around it would be unfair to single out any particular dancer, the Bovim Ballet Company have obviously been hard at work in the interim period. As a production, it is sheer entertainment worthy of many plaudits.

Clifford Graham
11 June 2013




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Cape Times:  "Treat fit for a King"
Fanbase: "Technically perfect and artistically delightful"
Dance Directory: "Innovative and entertaining"
City Press: "The show is a hit.....gripping performance"
Argus: "Visually Striking"


MEDIA LINKS: - a right royal romp for the king of rock