Royal Ballet and other Dancers – Gala for Ghana – London

Gala for Ghana flyer with Lauren Cuthbertson and Edward Watson of The Royal Ballet.<br />© Rick Guest. (Click image for larger version)
Gala for Ghana flyer with Lauren Cuthbertson and Edward Watson of The Royal Ballet.
© Rick Guest. (Click image for larger version)

Royal Ballet and other Dancers
Gala for Ghana

London, Britten Theatre, Royal College of Music,
2 February 2012
Original programme details

Sunday’s gala evening of music and dance raised money for the charity Ashanti Development, set up at the request of Ghanaians living in London: they asked their friends and neighbours for help to improve the lives of people in their home villages. This year’s gala was produced by Rosie Neave and James Wilkie, with the performers and stage crew giving their efforts for free.

In  the intimate setting of the 400-seat Britten Theatre, simplicity worked best. Even The Dying Swan, so often performed as a histrionic gala staple, was danced with poignant sincerity by Elena Glurjidze. Lauren Cuthbertson was spellbinding in the Pie Jesu from Kenneth MacMillan’s Requiem. She and the lovely young singer on stage with her, Rowan Pierce from the Royal College of Music, seemed linked together by Fauré’s music, sharing the same breath.

Elena Glurdjidze dancing in The Dying Swan.© Dave Morgan. (Click image for larger version)
Elena Glurdjidze dancing in The Dying Swan – here at English National Ballet’s Summer Fundraising Party in 2012.
© Dave Morgan. (Click image for larger version)

Yuhui Choe was poised and charming in Aurora’s variation from Act I of The Sleeping Beauty, and endearing in the pas de deux from Ashton’s Rhapsody, snuggling under Valentino Zucchetti’s outstretched arm. Beatriz Stix-Brunell was partnered by Nicol Edmonds for a reflective pas de deux from Christopher Wheeldon’s Polyphonia, calm and secure.

Two duets were created for the gala: by Ludovic Ondiviela. Clair de Lune, danced by Gina Storm-Jensen and Reece Clarke, both artists with the Royal Ballet, was pleasantly romantic. Avant la haine was quite other: Thomas Whitehead and Camille Bracher started as ardent lovers, he cradling her, she kittenish and affectionate, until their relationship turned stormy, she demanding more than he was prepared to give. Set to disquieting music by Icelandic composer Olafur Arnalds, the disintegrating relationship was punctuated by repeated motifs whose emotional impact kept changing. Far from simple, it’s a piece to be seen again – I trust.

Edward Watson in Arthur Pita’s <I>Volver, Volver</I>.<br />© Dave Morgan. (Click image for larger version)
Edward Watson in Arthur Pita’s Volver, Volver.
© Dave Morgan. (Click image for larger version)

The evening included Edward Watson in Arthur Pita’s new solo for him, Volver, Volver, first seen in Ivan Putrov’s Men in Motion; Marcelino Sambé in Kim Brandstrup’s buoyant Ceremony of Innocence; Elly Braund and James Muller in a duet from Richard Alston’s Unfinished Business; David Trzensimiech, about to leave the Royal Ballet, appeared for possibly the last time in a trio from Wayne Mcgregor’s Chroma, along with Paul Kay and Luca Acri. Mezzo Maria Jones sang one of Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder in a magnificent dress and cape. Musical contributors were pianists Henry Roche and Oliver Davies, violinist Robert Gibbs and cellist Adrian Bradbury.

About the author

Jann Parry

A long-established dance writer, Jann Parry was dance critic for The Observer from 1983 to 2004 and wrote the award-winning biography of choreographer Kenneth MacMillan: 'Different Drummer', Faber and Faber, 2009. She has written for publications including The Spectator, The Listener, About the House (Royal Opera House magazine), Dance Now, Dance Magazine (USA), Stage Bill (USA) and Dancing Times. As a writer/producer she worked for the BBC World Service from 1970 to 1989, covering current affairs and the arts. As well as producing radio programmes she has contributed to television and radio documentaries about dance and dancers.

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