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Diva who?

by capetowndiva

Taken at TBEX in Bangkok Oct 2015, by Anje Rautenbach of Going Somewhere Slowly

For those of you who may be a bit unsure as to my dual career in travel and theatre,  let me elaborate.

Ballet & Travel-how it all started

It all began with ballet, around age 14, when I flew overseas with my BFF Janet Lindup to train with some of the world’s finest ballet coaches. We pirouetted our way through dance studios in Cannes, Nice, Monte Carlo, Paris, London and Tel Aviv, and discovered the thrill of exploration- new places and cultures; different ways of living, eating, being. It made my heart race then just as it does now.  I turned 15 in London and the following year celebrated my 16th birthday in Amsterdam. At the age of 22 I went to New York and joined working a ballet company that presented performances in Manhattan and toured the USA, Canada and Hong Kong. Many years later, around 2008 I began solo travelling in earnest, making it my mission to discover at least one new international destination a year and began to write about my adventures, submitting stories to various local newspapers. To date I have visited more than 55 cities and counting.   

Published work

Since 2008, my travel and lifestyle editorials have been published in South Africa in newspapers such as the Sunday Times Lifestyle (Travel and Food), Saturday and Sunday Argus (Traveller and Home), the Cape Times (news and Top of the Times lifestyle), the Sunday Independent (Life), Khuluma, SLOW, Indwe and Skyways inflight mags and House & Leisure, and I’ve been  a special correspondent for the Cape Argus News, covering HM Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday in Windsor in April 2016. I have been interviewed on SABC3’s Expresso Show, and on Passport to the World on Radio Helderberg. My and decor travel photographs, have been placed in Private Edition magazine and . I take my photography seriously and shoot on a Canon DSLR for print media. I guest blog for bizcommunity.co.za, Kiss From the World, based in Boston, and have written for iAfrica.com travel.

(To access any of my press articles, please click on Media under the About tab)

My aim

To inspire people to travel and to explore more, be it their own neighbourhoods or places on the far side of their world. To encourage people to consider the environment, be conscious of sustainability and to make ethical choices in tourism. I am absolutely against any place that abuses animals for profit or entertainment: elephant riding, the circus, lion petting, hunting, Seaworld, zoos, lab tests on animals. I simply can’t tolerate it.

Writing mentors

Pieter-Dirk Uys, Marianne Thamm 

On my theatre life

I’ve been a publicist specialising in theatre, entertainment, & hospitality for the past 12 years, through my boutique agency called DIVA PR. Since 2005 and up to now, I’ve represented blue chip clients like Pieter-Dirk Uys, Evita Bezuidenhout, David Kramer, Pieter Toerien, the SA International Ballet Competition, Hazel Feldman, Marc Lottering, Nik Rabinowitz, Brett Bailey and the Fugard Theatre, to name a few, and represented artists and companies such as Cirque du Soleil, Mark Banks, Abdullah Ibrahim, Sandra Prinsloo, Gladys Knight, 50 Cent, Madame Zingara, the Soweto Gospel Choir, the Fancourt Ball and many more. Two people in particular who got me on my theatre PR journey and to whom I am most grateful: Percy Tucker and Brian van Rheede.


I have been married to shirt designer Paul van der Spuy (Frank B. Ernest, Wylde Oscar, bluecollarwhitecollar) since 1991 and we have two sons, Luke and Oscar, both out of school. My brother is physiotherapist Geoff Foat at Point Physio in Green Point. My Mother used to be a PR at Good Hope Bank, then Nedbank. My famous relatives include Bennie Osler the rugby player (great uncle) and Athol Fugard the playwright (we can’t work out how we are related but the women on late Dad’s side of the family are all Fugards).

And why Diva you might ask?

Well, my first career, spanning a decade, was as a ballerina, with CAPAB Ballet, PACT Ballet and Manhattan Ballet in New York City. I have seen Nureyev dance in Paris, met Margot Fonteyn (who spoke to me in 1981 and impacted my ballet life enormously) and danced the principal roles in epic classics like Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty, in many Balanchine ballets (my favourite because his choreography celebrated very tall dancers), and those written by Veronica Paeper, Norman Furber, Graham Gardner and Choo San Goh. Everything was (mostly) beautiful at the ballet… tutus, tiaras, sequins…all things sparkly and magical, underpinned by true grit. I worked for Cape Town City Ballet as marketing director for a while and somehow got the nickname ‘Diva’ and it stuck. Most people don’t even bother to call me Allison anymore. It’s just Diva. And the ballet background will also explain my occasional random leg hoists and ballet moves you might spy on social media – usually related to the glee of a moment in which I find myself. There are many of those moments because I go out of my way to find them. I generally get a kick out of Life and I go after the amazing – in my head or in reality. Either will do.

So there you have it. I travel a lot and write about it, and I publicise theatre and make other people famous. Two things, incredibly stimulating, and so inspiring, adding variety and value to my life.

Life is to be seized and lived to the max, and passion must be the driver – Me

Here are a few of my travel editorials (2008-2016) and a few images of me with some of my theatre clients.


Travel editorials in the Saturday and Sunday Argus (Bangkok, Istanbul, Koh Phangan), Sunday Independent (Japan, Lisbon), Sunday Times (Walking with Elephants); Cape Times (lifestyle feature re the mobile office)


L-R clockwise, from the top row down: with Archbishop Desmond Tutu & Evita, Sandra Prinsloo; Evita Bezuidenhout, Athol Fugard, Adelaide Tambo; David Kramer, Brett Bailey, Marc Lottering

And a few leg hoists…


L-R top, middle & bottom rows: With ex ballerina Ann Wixley; Davos, Switzerland; Bangkok at the husky cafe, Cape Town with Brett Bailey; Berlin; somewhere in Constantia; Bangkok on a bike tour, Bangkok in a tuk tuk, Grand Parade Cape Town (pic by Willem Law); Klosters, Switzerland; Madrid (on the plane), WTM Africa, Cape Town

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