The Royal Ballet’s Mara Galeazzi & her GALA 2011

two dancers in a tango on stage
two dancers in a tango on stage

Mara Galeazzi & Gary Avis in It Takes Two Photography throughout : Bex Singleton

GALA 2011

Sadlers Wells, London

Sunday 3rd April 2011 

From the age of 8, Royal Ballet Principal Mara Galeazzi wanted to help children in Africa to develop their souls.  With the universal language of dance now at her disposal and a huge dose of goodwill from her friends, Galeazzi has imaginatively produced two charity galas in consecutive years which demonstrate her flair and ingenuity. One thing sets these galas apart – Galeazzi knows how to draw people in. The photographs accompanying my review are by Bex Singleton and please note : they are rehearsal images.

two dancers laughing on stage

Mara & Gary in rehearsals

This year Galeazzi invited Great Ormond Street Hospital, a world leader in paediatric medicine, to benefit from the gala in addition to her own charity, Dancing for the Children. Housed in an old building unsuited to their needs, the hospital aims to raise enough funds to redevelop two thirds of the site with a new children’s centre of neurosciences.

two dancers on stage in a ballet

GALA 2011 was charmingly opened by Thomas Round, performing the role of the injured boy in ‘Critical Eye’, a short film directed by Dan Nathan.  Galeazzi’s ability to programme the unusual is what makes her galas a sell-out, must-see event, and the mixture of short films, singing (The Morley Chamber Choir), musicians (Stephanie Childress, violin & Kumi Matsuo, piano, to Gypsy Airs), Thomas Harris, the Ballet Boyz’ contemporary dance group Talent, Zenaida Yanowsky’s Nisi Dominus, and tap dancing (Alec Mann) cooks up a real treat.  And of course, there was ballet.

two dancers perform a high ballet lift

dancer in ballet arabesque

World Premiere followed World Premiere as Galeazzi & Gary Avis took to the stage in It Takes Two, a piece choreographed by them to ‘Libertango’ by Astor Piazzolla.  Galeazzi recently collaborated with fashion designer Estrella Archs and tonight the favour is returned as she designs Galeazzi’s costume. It’s a fun piece, sharp and sazzy. I’ve always thought that Tango suits pointe work; the shoes somehow emphasising the fleet footwork and sharp angles of the Tango.

two ballet dancers sit on each other

ballet dancers lie on top of one another on stage

Edward Watson’s elongated torso twists and stretches in Anger Fix, another World Premiere by Jonathan Watkins.  The music is Michael Nyman’s Tango’ and suits Watson’s anguished frame, punishingly relentless and fraught.

dancer doing the ballet splits

Edward Watson in Anger Fix

dancer sits on stagedancer on stage in a solo

dancer in arabesque

dancer in arabesque

4 Poofs and a Piano, minus the piano, made good fun of Swan Lake, in Bourne Free, something of a recurring theme in this gala. They are good fun, surprisingly nimble, and give the stage hands a lot of work with their rogue feathers (another recurring theme) !

dancer on white tutu

4 Poofs and a Piano in Bourne Free

male dancer in white tutu and fluffy slippers

three dancers on stage in white tutus

Galeazzi’s animalistic solo from Inala, a Zula Ballet, sees her collaborating for the first time with Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Sisters Grimm, Ella Spira and Jonathan Watkins.  The dance conjures images of dusty hot plains and skittish Impala surrounded by the beauty that is Africa, with serene Galeazzi at its centre.

dancer in silouette

Mara Galeazzi in Inala

dancer on ballet shoes pointe shoesdancer on pointe

dancer on ballet shoes pointe shoes

Yuhui Choe & Nehemiah Kish tackle the Black Swan Pas de Deux from Act 111 of Swan Lake; Choe’s fouettés and her devil-may-care attitude leave Kish well and truly deceived.

dancer in jete in Black tutu

Yuhui Choe & Nehemiah Kish in Black Swan Pas de Deux

dancer on high jumpdancer in arabesque wearing a black tutu

dancer in arabesque wearing a black tutudancer in Black Swan tutu

Galeazzi clearly relishes a challenge.  Franca Roberto taught her to dance Sevillanas for this gala, giving us another World Premiere as Galeazzi takes on Flamenco with Valentino Zucchetti.  Two Italians mastering the Spanish steps – and they did very, very well. It takes more than 3 weeks to master this art but it just goes to show what you can accomplish if you set your mind to it!

dancer in flamenco costume

Mara Galeazzi & Valentino Zucchetti in Sevillanas

ballet dancer in flamenco costumetwo dancers in flamenco costume

dancers on flamenco

Another surprise of the night en travesti with Raffaele Morra dancing the Dying Swan with much finesse.  Fair play to him – on pointe almost the entire time – and though you see here his rehearsal attire; in performance he wore a white tutu that continually lost feathers until the stage was carpeted in white.

male dancer on pointe

Raffaele Morra (aka Lariska Dumbchenko from Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo) in The Dying Swan

one arm highlighted in the dark like a swandancer on the floor in pointe shoes

male dancer on pointe

Liam Scarlett’s hit Asphodel Meadows makes a welcome return with an extract by Laura Morera and Bennet Gartside. It’s an introspective piece; you feel as though you’re slightly intruding. Polunec’s music carries them and us through fluid lifts, solo side by side steps and a soaring partnership.

dancer on stage

Laura Morera in Asphodel Meadows

Bennet Gartside and Laura Morera in Asphodel Meadows

Bennet Gartside and Laura Morera in Asphodel Meadows

dancer being carried by anotherdancer on stage on pointe

two ballet dancers in a lifttwo ballet dancers in a lift

two ballet dancers on a liftballet dancer held aloft

The gala ends on a high with Alastair Marriott’s Look West, another World Premiere, for Galeazzi and Avis.  Truly, they moved as one to Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade for Solo violin, Strings, Harp and Percussion. It’s a piece that does exactly what I described Galeazzi is so good at from the start – drawing you in.

two dancers in a lift

Mara Galeazzi & Gary Avis in Look West

two dancers in a high liftdancer in a high lift

two dancers in arabesquetwo dancers on eachothers back

dancer rests on anothers backdancer in lift

Much cheering and clapping by the end, and brave Galeazzi took to the stage to speak of her passion for her charity, and that it’s not a case of ‘wanting’ to put on a gala for the children; it’s a case of ‘having’ to, such is her determination to help.  With your help, Galeazzi is making dreams come true here and in Africa.

If you weren’t able to attend the gala you can still donate by visiting Mara Galeazzi’s website, Dancing for the Children, where you will find a charming introductory dance which became Galeazzi’s leitmotif at the start of the gala. I recommend you watch it ! Roll on 2012.

two dancers on stage

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5 Responses to The Royal Ballet’s Mara Galeazzi & her GALA 2011

  1. Mandy Kent April 8, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

    Thanks for your review and lovely photos. Who was the photographer, they are great?! It was a wonderful Gala and I hope raised lots of money for some very worthy causes.

  2. May April 8, 2011 at 7:23 pm #

    Great pics even though they are in rehearsal without full makeup and hairdos. Yuhui and Mara are so photogenic with great lines! Can’t believe we have to wait another year for the next gala! Enjoyed the review with all its detail.

  3. Anne Sanderson April 8, 2011 at 7:47 pm #

    Thank you for such a meaningful coverage of the Gala, which I’d love to have seen. Such characterful photos!

  4. Ballet News April 11, 2011 at 11:28 am #

    thank you everyone. It’s always interesting to see who rehearses in costume and who prefers not to. It’s nearly always the same people ! Both rehearsal and performance photographs tell a story but I find on BN the rehearsal ones are very well received. Of course, the dancers want perfection so from their point of view I’m not so sure….

  5. May April 13, 2011 at 12:05 pm #

    Just realised – isn’t Thomas Round Leanne Benjamin’s son? Keeping it all in the Royal Ballet family 🙂