Meet Sophie Rebecca, the trans ballet dancer challenging long-held stereotypes
The academy changed its policy in 2013 and no longer insists that students taking these courses must have been born female.
Rebecca is a transgender woman advocating for greater inclusivity in the ballet arena.
"Beautiful dancers come in all shapes and sizes", the 40-year-old tells CapeTalk host John Maytham.
Rebecca began her physical transition five years ago and has since taken the dancing world by storm.
She trains four times per week and has an incredible collection of handmade tutus and leotards.
It was a tremendously liberating experience for me finally being able to dance the way I wanted to; seeing the girl in the mirror that I knew I was.Sophie Rebecca, ballet dancer
Rebecca will be sharing her story during a webinar hosted by the South African International Ballet Competition next week.
She says it's important for the broader ballet community to challenge gender and body stereotypes.
I'm not a typical dancer size. I am part of a worldwide community of adult ballet dancers.Sophie Rebecca, ballet dancer
People have an image in their head of what a ballet body looks like or who does ballet. It's hugely wrong and stereotypical. I know so many dancers who don't fit the mould.Sophie Rebecca, ballet dancer
The dancer says she fell in love with the dance form as a young child.
However, her earlier ballet training as a teenager was cut short by a transphobic teacher.
When I was young I fell involve with ballet, as many young people do. When I told my mom that I wanted to be a ballerina she gently laughed and told me that boys aren't ballerinas.Sophie Rebecca, ballet dancer
That is my earliest memory of what is termed gender dysphoria. I didn't really understand at that stage why people thought I was a boy.Sophie Rebecca, ballet dancer
I didn't get to ballet until I was 16 and it was very short-lived because my teacher at the time found out that I was transgender and wasn't prepared to teach me anymore.Sophie Rebecca, ballet dancer
It wasn't until I was 34 that I finally found a teacher who was willing to teach me the female variations in ballet.Sophie Rebecca, ballet dancer
The South African International Ballet Competition (SAIBC) will take place virtually this year with its largest competitor enrolment since its inception in 2008.
More than 150 dancers will represent 28 countries including South Africa, Peru, Kenya, Australia, Eswatini, Mexico, Spain, Portugal and Nigeria.
Join Rebecca as she talks about Ballet Diplomacy live on the SAIBC Facebook page on Thursday 16 July at 3pm.
Listen to her in conversation with Afternoon Drive host John Myatham:
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