It may be surprising that a leading manufacturer and supplier of industrial gases and chemicals would involve itself in something as far removed from industry as ballet.

However, for Air Products South Africa, sponsoring Johannesburg’s own world class African ballet company, Joburg Ballet, is an important part of its CSI (corporate social investment) strategy of helping to educate, train and develop young South Africans.

On Saturday 28th September, Air Products and a number of its suppliers, customers and other special guests were treated to a performance of Cinderella at the Joburg Theatre. The cast, including principal dancers Shannon Glover (Cinderella), Ramiro Samón (the Prince), Lindé Wessels (the Fairy Godmother) complemented by Chase Bosch and Keke Chele as the comical ugly stepsisters who wowed the audience in a stunning new rendition of the ballet, choreographed by Joburg Ballet’s Artistic Director Iain Macdonald.

“We are proud to be associated with a ballet company of this calibre. To see young dancers from all walks of life fulfilling their live dreams is inspirational,” says Neale Quilliam, General Manager of Human Resources at Air Products South Africa, who spearheaded the company’s involvement in the sponsorship in 2010.

“It has long been our mission to support young people in educational and training endeavours. Our sponsorship of the Joburg Ballet is part of our goal to bring hope for the future to young South Africans, instilling them with the knowledge that they can be world class, whether they choose artistic or technical careers,” comments Josua le Roux, General Manager – Central Support at Air Products.

Joburg Ballet, until very recently known as South African Mzansi Ballet (SAMB), is now also enjoying support from the City of Johannesburg.

“We have been proud to have provided consistent sponsorship from the days of the SA Ballet Theatre (SABT) and latterly the SA Mzansi Ballet (SAMB), to the company’s most recent incarnation as the Joburg Ballet,” le Roux points out.

“An exciting future lies ahead for Joburg’s ballet company,” says CEO of Joburg Ballet Dirk Badenhorst. “The name change reflects a new partnership that has been forged with the City of Johannesburg. Together with the City and our long-standing sponsor Air Products South Africa, we look forward to an exciting new era in ballet in Johannesburg.”

“We owe the success of the company to the commitment of our patrons, supporters and loyal sponsors,” says Iain Macdonald. “Their generous public and private sector sponsorship will go a long way in ensuring that Joburg Ballet thrives and grows in reputation as a world class African Ballet Company.”