SA Ballerina returns after study in Russia

Waiting to go on stage before a performance. (competition in Ekaterinburg)

Waiting to go on stage before a performance. (competition in Ekaterinburg).

In 2017, Chantalle de Jager (now Bergh) became the first South African Ballerina to be awarded a full scholarship to study choreography in Russia.

Attending the Kazan State Institute of Culture, in Kazan, Russia, Chantalle commenced her studies towards a BCom degree in dance choreography and pedagogy with a major in classical ballet and character dance in the fall of 2017.

Chantalle remembers how daunting it was to arrive in Russia: “I could not understand the language; everything was unfamiliar and extremely cold! I was very home sick! However, as I became proficient in the Russian language, moved into my own flat, and got integrated into life in Russia, it became my second home”.

Now, six years later, Chantalle has returned to South Africa, having completed a BCom Honours Cum Laude with a bright future ahead. This is a big achievement, especially as no classes or examinations are offered in any other language than Russian! To be bestowed with this honour, one needs to maintain an above-90% average throughout the duration of the study. For the class of 2022, only 3 out of a class of 10 were able to achieve this; Chantalle was one!

“I truly enjoyed the time in Russia. I made so many friends and had the opportunity to experience Russian culture and some of the most beautiful architecture!”, remarks Chantalle. “I do miss it!”

In 2018, the Russian Ballet Academy of South Africa (RBASA) closed its doors temporarily. On her return to South Africa, Chantalle reopened the RBASA in Garsfontein. In February 2023, the first students of the RBASA walked through the doors. The RBASA offers classes in ballet (Vaganova Method), contemporary and character dance. Through an agreement with the Kazan State Institute of Culture, all certifications are underwritten by the university. This means that students from RBASA receive certifications that are globally recognised.

As part of the agreement with the Kazan State Institute of Culture a program is being developed for the training and certification of teachers in the Vaganova method. This will provide South African ballet teachers and aspiring teachers the opportunity to become Vaganova teachers underwritten by a Russian University. The teacher training program, student curriculum and examinations will be managed by the Russian Dance Association of South Africa (RDASA).

All be it still small, at the end of their first year since the doors of the RBASA ( have reopened, students will be performing during the RBASA annual gala concert on November 25, 2023.

With this Chantalle closed, “I can’t wait to see what the future will bring! We have a country with the most beautiful people and the most amazing talent and passion for dance. I want to sow back what dance has given me in terms of opportunities and experiences.”

Derik de Jager
083 419 5860

References and articles published in SA and Russia.

Article published in the City News in June 2019

Article published in the Citizen in 2019

Article published in Russia in 2019

RBASA Website:

RDASA Website:

Chantalle can be reached on 082 829 0674.

Chantalle Bergh
Class of 2022 – Choreography and Pedagogy
Chantalle Bergh
Chantalle Bergh
Chantalle on stage during rehearsal before a performance
Chantalle on stage during rehearsal before a performance