The Athelhampton House Gala in Dorset has become an annual happening after the Royal Ballet’s Meaghan Grace Hinkis created the event after the first lockdown in 2020.
Hinkis, who has been a first soloist since 2021, wanted to support her industry with the gala in response to the closures of performing arts venues. The inaugural gala went from conception to launch in just under a month and raised over £45,000. Last year that figure shot up to £60,000, which was shared across a mix of dance charities supporting those who were overlooked and out of work during the pandemic.
Hinkis, together with Fredstep Fundraising, now present the third annual Ballet at Athelhampton on the 10 and 11 September 2022 with Royal Ballet principals Matthew Ball, Mayara Magri, Ryoichi Hirano, Sarah Lamb and Laura Morera; first soloists Melissa Hamilton and Luca Acri; the newly appointed soloists Lukas Brændsrød , Mariko Sasaki, David Donnelly, and Joseph Sissens; newly promoted artists Daichi Ikarashi and the Ukrainian dancer Marianna Tsembenhoi; together with the Birmingham Royal Ballet principals Momoko Hirata and Cesar Morales Anderson; and Meaghan Grace Hinkis herself.
Funds raised this year are not only destined for the performing arts sector in the UK but also for displaced Ukrainian dancers impacted by the war in Ukraine via the Youth America Grand Prix. Hinkis explains, “The Youth America Grand Prix has already been able to support over 100 Ukrainian dancers placing them safely in schools across the world and we hope to improve on that figure with further ticket sales from this year’s charity gala.”
Also, this year will see over 80 children from local schools watching the rehearsals and the performance for free. For many this will be their first experience of a live performance and a few students will have the opportunity to watch ballet class and present gifts to the dancers at the end of the event.
Hinkis said, “With so many amazing Ukrainian artists and performers displaced from the ongoing conflict, this was an opportunity to work with that talent to show the schools in attendance how ballet transcends different cultures. We’re excited to perform without a single Covid-19 restriction this year; with new faces and more schools participating and to see how the arts are flourishing once again!”
Joseph Sissens will dance Ben Van Cauwenbergh’s Les Bourgeois, the pas de deux from Kenneth MacMillan’s Carousel will be danced by Mayara Magri and Matthew Ball. MacMillan’s Pie Jesu from Requiem will be danced by Laura Morera and will be dedicated to the Ukrainian dance community.
Also on the programme are excerpts from George Balanchine’s Diamonds, Frederick Ashton’s The Dream and Les Patineurs, Swan Lake, Le Corsaire, Vicente Nebrada’s Our Waltzes, Liam Scarlett’s Jubilee Pas de deux, a pas de deux from Valentino Zucchetti’s Anemoi, an excerpt from Wayne McGregor’s Infra, a new creation by Kristen McNally by Ukrainian composer Myroslav Skoryk for Ukrainian dancer Marianna Tsembenhoi, and pieces by Christopher Wheeldon and Ben Stevenson, among others.
This year’s charity ballet gala will once again be held in the grounds of Athelhampton House, Dorset, where the audience can picnic in the gardens before enjoying a late afternoon outdoor performance under covered seating.
Tickets can be purchased at www.athelhampton.com/ballet. Proceeds will support the recovery funds of the Royal Ballet companies and other dance charities.