Dancing Stars

Dancing Stars

Five Ballito mothers and their daughters formed an incredible bond when they journeyed to England for the young girls to take part in the World Lyrical Dance championships earlier this year. They came back with wonderful memories and a whole lot of trophies!

(Above: Ballito dancing stars Caitlynn Fomison, Aimee Barnard, Caraline Hill, Brigitte van Buddenbrock and Erin Wilkins)

When you sit with all of them together it’s easy to imagine what it must have been like travelling to the UK with a troupe of excited, giggling girls ready to take on the world. And their daughters seemed quite excitable too!

But in all seriousness, these five talented dancers – Aimee Barnard, Brigitte van Buddenbrock, Caitlynn Fomison, Caraline Hill and Erin Wilkins – made their families and country proud when they danced their way to victory, bringing home a number of trophies, medals and titles.

The girls are trained by Catherine Barry of Swish Studio in Ballito and, after taking part in the regional qualifiers, were selected to represent South Africa as part of the top six dancers in each age group and category from each region.

The world championships were held at the renowned Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford Upon Avon and the competition was tough with the girls going up against dancers from five other participating countries, namely England, Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Canada.

But this didn’t deter the young Ballito beauties, who held their own and walked away with a number of awards. Twelve-year-old Caraline wowed the judges and claimed first place in the U12 level 1 section, for which she now holds the world champion title. She also won the U12 duet section world champs title with 11-year-old Brigitte.

Aimee (12), Brigitte and Caitlynn (12) placed third, fourth and fifth in the U14 non-ranked section respectively. Although she did not place in England, Erin (13) also qualified to compete in the ranked section and she, along with the other girls placed fourth in the quad U14 section and second place in the U14 group section.

Unlike modern dance or ballet, modern lyrical dancing includes a combination of acrobatic-type moves like backbends and focusses on expressing strong emotions.

As soon as the girls found out they had made the team, they started working hard to raise money to get themselves and their moms there. But between selling pancakes and raffles, putting on shows and even hosting a dance-a-thon during the school holidays, they still weren’t able to raise quite enough.

When one of the girls still couldn’t afford to go five weeks before the competition, the other families rallied together to help pay in the difference and their dance instructor, Cathy, even forfeited her portion of the travel funds to make sure all five girls could go with their moms.

“It was so special and all of us formed a very close bond on this trip,” says Caraline’s mom Samantha.

The girls shone on the night of the finals at the beautiful Shakespeare Theatre and the wonderful night of laughter, cheer and tears ended with a gala dinner. Samantha says all the moms came together to celebrate each girl’s achievements, taking photos and videos of all of them. “Words cannot express how incredibly special it was for all of us to be there and share such an incredibly experience with our daughters.”

Get in touch
If you’d like to find out more about Modern Lyrical Dance contact Catherine at Swish Dance Studio: 084 266 5159 /

Text: Leah Shone | Photo: Taryn Van Rensburg



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