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Ballerina Kitty Phetla

Kitty Phetla, one of only a handful of black ballerinas in the world, stars in the first of a new visual collaboration series by Three Ships Whisky featuring inspirational South Africans.

Watch as this respected dancer, choreographer, model and radio host elegantly floats among the copper pot stills and barrels, becoming one with the angel’s share in The James Sedgwick Distillery.

Bringing to life

Moving amongst the distillery’s copper, wood and steel, Phetla glides flawlessly from the barrel maturation cellar to the still house – bringing to life the fluidity required to make whisky.

“Dancing is a beautiful conversation, and while you dance, you expose your inner self. And at the heart of this conversation is the perfection of the art form. It’s theatrical, a magic of the mind, and I judge myself daily in pursuit of perfection. There is no space for mistakes – it changes the entire composition of the performance. Practice is a very humbling experience for me. I am constantly aware of the faults I make, yet it’s an incredible conversation that I have during that time with myself.”

Phetla grew up in Alexandra in Johannesburg. Through hard work and discipline, she has created a stellar career, with her most famous role her performance as the first black ballerina to dance Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova’s famous solo, The Dying Swan, in Amsterdam in 2012. The role transformed her journey and allowed her to make it her own.

“At the time of my introduction to ballet, it was so Westernised, yet it’s an art form that has now transcended cultures and is tangible for the black community. South Africans love to move and there is a constant rhythm and beat within us,” says Phetla.

“As a choreographer, I am able to fuse the ethnic with the classical, the rhythm and soul, and blend it all into one creative space. That is pure magic. Almost, I would imagine, as when a whisky is made – equal parts of an excellent base, vision, passion and ultimately magic, in crafting something exceptional.”

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