By Sydney McAllister-Bowen @sydneymcallisterbowen
The film ‘Beyond Moving’ directed by Vikram Dasgupta tells the remarkable story of Siphe November, one of the National Ballet of Canada’s rising stars. The film brings us along on Siphe’s unique journey, starting in the small South-African village of Zolani and finishing on some of the world’s most prestigious stages. It is a story that speaks to the generosity of strangers, the belief in true talent, and the beauty of living a dream. In this film we see Siphe navigate what it means to be a black classical ballet dancer, and still maintain his connections to his African home. This movie not only speaks about the power of dance, but also the importance of giving back to your community, and the incredible unexpected gifts that can be right around the corner. “Beyond Moving is a Billy Elliot story with a South African twist,” says the Toronto Star.
Through the generosity of a woman teaching ballet in Zolani named Fiona, and a family based in Toronto, Canada, Siphe is pulled out of a life of limited opportunities and given the gift of attending one of the world’s most prestigious ballet schools: Canada’s National Ballet School (NBS). It was Siphe’s undeniable passion for dance and stage presence that propelled a family visiting Africa on a family vacation to take a leap of faith and help this little boy realize his potential. We watch Siphe at the young age of 11 leave his home with his new extended Canadian family and travel across the world to Toronto upon his acceptance to the Professional Ballet Program at NBS. Siphe suddenly finds himself in a foreign country, without his mother and siblings, living in a world that seemed merely a dream.
We get a glimpse into the life of a ballet student at NBS, and the rigorous 11 - 12 hour days. Students from Grade 6-10 train for 22 hours a week, and students in Grades 11 and 12 train for roughly 30 hours a week. This level of training was essential to Siphe’s development as a dancer and artist. NBS fostered his training and provided him with the foundation to land lead roles in choreographic works and pieces of repertoire that even the great Baryshnakov danced. Throughout this film, many key people in Siphe’s life reflect upon what it has taken for him to chase this dream, and the sacrifices made.
Having had the privilege to attend Canada’s National Ballet School, I feel that this is one of (if not the best) ballet movies out there. Similar to Siphe, I have trained professionally at NBS since Grade Six (I am now in Grade 10) and can personally attest to the profound gift that this school is. I bore witness to Siphe’s talent during my early years at the school and now enjoy watching him perform as a company member at the National Ballet of Canada.
Even if you know nothing about the world of ballet, I highly recommend watching this film as the story speaks to how through supporting each other we can soar to unforeseen heights and accomplish unimaginable goals. This film demonstrates that talent exists everywhere, and the power of a dream. Visit www.nbs-enb.ca for the link to watch this powerful and incredibly important documentary. *It is available for a limited time only! Hurry!* Follow Siphe’s story on his Instagram @deshgrey.