_DSC6064Adele Blank

As a young woman Adele spent many years training in the Cecchetti method of classical dance, which saw her performing with the Johannesburg City Ballet Company (which became PACT Ballet Company) and later on teaching in various communities. During this time she explored contemporary training in the Graham technique with her then mentor and teacher, Sheila Wartski. Sheila also introduced Adele to musical theatre, which led to Adele becaming the dance captain for the very first Ipi ‘n Tombi staged in South Africa (1973).

Soon after this Adele choreographed a piece called Caccophony, on a small group of dancers who collectively became known as the 8+One Company. It was a company that achieved many ‘firsts’; the first time a black dancer performed on the same platform as white dancers on a professional and public stage, and the first time such had been exported. The piece was performed in Israel in 1979 and 8+One toured the country extensively and then returned to perform at the Civic Theatre in Johannesburg.

After many visits and training expeditions to the USA, UK, Europe and Israel to study contemporary dance in its various forms, Adele was elected as Director of Dance and Choreography at the Performing Arts Workshop (PAW) in 1984, a holistic arts school covering all forms of performance art. The closure of the Performing Arts Workshop Dance Theatre left her with 10 magnificent dancers who then became the core of Free Flight under her direction and choreographic style.

During the 90’s, under Adele’s creative direction, Free Flight Dance Company became the most renowned contemporary dance company in South Africa and were invited to various festivals around the world. Some of these included: performances in Aachen, Cologne, by invitation from James Saunders of Tanzprojekt, Basel Festival in Switzerland invitation by Peter Martin. These tours were followed by an invitation to a festival in Dusburg, Heilbron and later to a tour of the Indian Ocean Islands of Mauritius, Madagascar and Reunion. Adele was awarded with the United States Information Services (USIS) Programme Award for Community Development Work, as recognition training under-priviledged dancers and the choreography thereof and was invited to the US to meet with various dance afficionodos.

The company has become one of the leading professional dance companies in S.A. and since its inception has survived solely on work commissioned in the form of film, television, industrial theatre and invitations to perform abroad. There was never consistent funding for Free Flight except for a period of three years where funding was received from the National Arts Council. But what continually keeps the company going, and has for the last 20-odd years, is Adele’s unwavering passion for the art form, her love of teaching, nurturing new talent and exploring various mediums of creative expression.

Since the beginning of the millenium Adele’s artistic reach has extended far beyond the realm of dance. She has been responsible for numerous local and international TV adverts, movies, Operas, fund-raisers, and a host of industrial theatre productions. She was awarded a note-worthy accolade by FNB for her contribution to dance and officially named as the Mother of Contemporary Dance in South Africa (year). Adele has also been responsible for launching the careers of dancers on international level and if it weren’t for her mentorship would never have achieved such status. She continues to work and live in Cape Town and is also quite occupied with her grandchildren.