After the success of Gary Avis & Friends five years ago, Avis returns with more of his Royal Ballet pals for two dates, 10 and 11 September 2016. He has gathered together some of his favourite dancers from the company, including both established stars and those heading for the top. Yasmine Naghdi and Matthew Ball, for example, the young dancers who danced their first Romeo and Juliet together on the Royal Opera House stage at the end of last year, and also the balcony scene pas de deux for the Royal Shakespeare Company's televised live spectacular for the Bard's birthday, will be dancing the same pas de deux at the Ipswich Regent.
Other dancers in the line-up include Luca Acri, Lukas Bjørneboe Brændsrød, Beatriz Stix-Brunell, Alexander Campbell, Reece Clarke, Helen Crawford, Mara Galeazzi, Meaghan Grace Hinkis, Ryoichi Hirano, Fumi Kaneko, Emma Maguire, Zenaida Yanowsky and, of course, local boy Gary Avis himself. The gala will be hosted by BBC Strictly Come Dancing's Anton du Beke.
The event aims to raise £100,000 for the Suffolk Arts & Culture Fund. In addition, there will be workshops for young dancers in collaboration with DanceEast and an outreach project with local community groups which will allow a group of young people to see the show for free.
The Suffolk Arts & Culture Fund has been set up at Suffolk Community Foundation to support projects which harness the healing and restorative power of creativity of all kinds. The money raised will help support serious issues such as domestic abuse, drug abuse, dementia, mental illness, physical challenge and social isolation, all of which can be aided through art, creative writing, dance, music and craft.
Gary Avis has promised ‘something for everyone' and apart from the Romeo and Juliet scene there will be pas de deux from Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, together with other pieces from the Royal Ballet repertoire with modern classics by Wayne McGregor, Liam Scarlett, Will Tuckett and Christopher Wheeldon. Two choreographers who have close ties to Suffolk will also be celebrated: Sir Frederick Ashton and Ronald Hynd. And as Anton du Beke is presenting, I wouldn't be surprised if a little ballroom dancing didn't find its way onto the stage too.
Gary Avis & Friends
Ipswich Regent Theatre
Saturday 10 September at 7.30pm; Sunday 11 September at 1.30pm
Tickets go on sale from 9.30am on Wednesday 4 May
Box Office: 01473 433100
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.