| Parents & Teachers > Ask A Teacher > About Mignon Furman
Mignon Furman started her ballet career in South Africa as a dancer, and became a choreographer, teacher and educator. As a dancer, she danced with the University of Cape Town Ballet Company (which later became the state-owned CAPAB Ballet). The ballets in which she danced included Les Sylphides, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Prince Igor, Carnaval, and other classical ballets.
She furthered her ballet studies in London, England, with Anna Northcote (Severskaya) and modern dance with Sigurd Leeder. While still a student there, she choreographed a ballet for the Mercury Theater.
On her return to Cape Town, Ms. Furman started her own ballet school with one student, but it soon grew to be one of the largest ballet schools in South Africa, with a staff of 10 and more than 600 students. She founded the Cape Town Theater Ballet which performed for several seasons in and around Cape Town, as well as touring to other cities in South Africa. In Port Elizabeth (on the East Coast of South Africa), she founded The Port Elizabeth Youth Ballet.
Ms. Furman accepted an invitation to join the faculty of the University of Cape Town Ballet School, which was part of the University and which offered a three-year graduate course in ballet. Her special responsibility was teacher-training, for which she formulated the program, as well as the program of instruction for the younger students. Ms. Furman was promoted to Senior Lecturer, and, as Acting-Director of the entire ballet school, supervised the faculty of 15 and controlled the budget. In addition, Ms. Furman was the founder and Director of The University of Cape Town Youth Ballet. Being nominated for the Distinguished Teacher Award from amongst the entire academic faculty of over 1,200 lecturers and professors was a proud occasion for Ms. Furman, as acknowledgment by her distinguished peers for excellence.
She served on the Committee of the CAPAB Ballet Company and was Chairperson of the Cape Town Dance Teachers' professional organization for nine years, as well as being on the Arts Committee of the city of Cape Town. Ms. Furman conceived the program to be used for ballet as a curricular subject in the schools, and was the Examiner for 13 years of the School-Graduation Certificate. She was invited by the South African Minister of Education to join a National Committee for ballet education in the schools.
Her choreography includes four full-length ballets and numerous shorter works, which she choreographed for CAPAB, the University Youth Ballet, the Port Elizabeth Youth Ballet, the Namibia Performing Arts Council and the Cape Town Theater Ballet.
In 1984, Ms. Furman was awarded a Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Ballet and in 1985, received the coveted Naomi Press Award. She also received many invitations within South Africa to guest teach and choreograph ballets. She was invited to teach by The Bat Dor Dance Company and School in Israel three times. In 1990, she was invited by Royal Academy of Dancing to be its Administrator for the USA.
Subsequent to this 4-year appointment, Ms. Furman initiated and formed the American Academy of Ballet, which organizes the Performance Awards - a unique program in the USA. The Awards program has now been introduced and developed in Japan and South Africa. The American Academy of Ballet's annual Summer School, with Ms. Furman as the Director, is located at Vassar College. The Summer School attracts some of the most respected names in ballet (and other forms of dance) as guest teachers, both from the USA and internationally. Her 18 years' experience of summer school organization and direction has been an immense contribution factor to their success.
Ms. Furman continues to receive invitations to teach or choreograph from teachers in Oregon, California, New Jersey and Tennessee. She takes great pride in knowing that teachers who she taught are now teaching in many countries of the world, along with the fact that many of her former students are dancing in companies globally.