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Cape Town's very own Billy Elliot in the spotlight

Cape Town's very own Billy Elliot in the spotlight

South Africa

If you have watched the 2000 award-winning British film ‘Billy Elliot’, you only have to read the rest of the story to know more about Faakhir Bestman.

Faakhir Bestman is just 12 years old and what makes him stand out at this point is his win to attend the prestigious American Academy of Ballet Summer School for Excellence at Purchase College, State University of New York.

Even though he started dancing about three years ago, his skills and talent have garnered him attention and acclaim, locally and internationally.

... his stay there at Purchase University is going to be an amazing journey for him.

Young Bestman who lives in Hanover, Cape Town wants to perform in some of the world’s most prestigious dance capitals and the scholarship to him is the beginning of realising this dream.

While Hanover Park is a low-income and gang-infested neighbourhood on the outskirts of the city, Faakhir and his siblings have been forced to live with their grandmother, Ashya because his mother is a drug addict.

For decades, dance genres such as ballet in the South were often associated with the white, wealthy minority, however, now there are more young black dancers even though ballet classes can be difficult for them especially for boys.

“I think he is going to be totally blown away from what he knows about New York he has only seen in movies and to be there in that moment in that time is going to be awesome for him,” said Abeedah Medell, Faakhir’s ballet instructor.

According to Faakhir, Hanover is not the best place to live because of the insecurity issues they face everyday.

“It’s not nice to live in Hanover Park but now there is peace here, they are shooting people, innocent people, it’s not nice, people like to say negative things about Hanover Park and it’s not nice to say negative things about other places,” he said.

Unemployment and crime has been high in Hanover Park and people easily drift into gang life, drugs and alcohol.

While making it as a professional in the arts is difficult anywhere in the world today, he faces bigger challenges and one can, but only hope he will hop his way out of the neighbourhood one tune at a time.

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