Former Eoan Group ballerina dies of Covid-19

Former Eoan Group School of the Performing Arts ballerina and dance teacher Casandra Cyster has died of Covid-19.

Family and friends of Casandra Cyster, 65, say they will remember her for her humility, kindness and care.

Ms Cyster, who was among the first ballet dancers of the Eoan Group School of the Performing Arts, died unexpectedly on Sunday January 17 after a battle with Covid-19.

She was 5 when renowned dance teacher Cecil Jacobs, 80, discovered her talent. Mr Jacobs is a life registered teacher of the Royal Academy of Dancing.

“I remember her being a soft, quiet child,” he said. “She received a distinction with her first dance test at the Royal Academy of Dancing. She was the principal dancer for two Eoan Group productions – The Dream and The Lady and the Fool.

“By the time she reached high school, she was assisting me to teach at Sunnyside, Belthorn, and Vanguard Primary schools. She was a gifted dancer and a gifted teacher.

“When I left for London for three years, I arranged for a teacher’s course for Casandra there – to be a qualified senior ballet teacher. Unfortunately, she could not attend, as she was in a car accident during that time.”

Casandra Cyster during one of her performances.

Eugene Brandt described his sister as a sweet person who had always wanted to help where she could. Old newspaper clippings about his sister are among his prized possessions.

“Over the years, she helped to produce many shows, because she loved doing it,” he said. “She was passionate about ballet and loved teaching it. She had a caring heart for everybody. She used to check up on our mother, Gladys Brandt, 88, every day, and she did not have to go there every day, but that was just who she was.”

Eugene Brandt still has newspaper clippings of articles written about his sister.

Her son, Euan Cyster, said his mother’s passion for ballet and her love for children had seen her collaborate, for more than 40 years, with church productions and other stage performances all over Cape Town.

“My mother was humble, kind-hearted and had a gentle spirit. She excelled as a ballet student and earned her honours at the Royal Academy of Dancing in November 1972. We will remember our mother as a loving and beautiful soul,” he said.

Ms Cyster’s funeral service will be held tomorrow, Thursday January 28.

She is survived by her husband, Aubrey Cyster, three children, a granddaughter, her brother Eugene, and mother Gladys Brandt, 88.