This weekend – 26 and 27 August – sees Steven McRae, Sarah Lamb, Matthew Ball, Mayara Magri, Ryoichi Hirano, Anna Rose O'Sullivan, Laura Morera, and other members of The Royal Ballet, in a gala organised by first soloist Meaghan Grace Hinkis at the famous Cantine dei Marchesi Incisa della Rocchetta.
The Royal Ballet cast also includes Luca Acri, Sae Maeda, Lukas B. Brændsrød, David Donnelly, Giacomo Rovero, Daichi Ikarashi, the first violin of The Royal Opera House orchestra, Sergey Levitin, and The Royal Ballet pianist, Michael Pansters. A generous lineup not just in terms of talent, but for the dancers' generosity – proceeds from the event will be donated to various dance institutions.
Hinkis is less brave organising an open-air event in Italy – during a particularly dry and intense hot spell – than in the rainier climes of the UK where, starting in 2020, she heroically organised the Athelhampton House Gala in Dorset in response to the closures of performing arts venues after the first lockdown. The gala raised much-needed funds for dance charities in the three years that it was staged during the pandemic years.
Now she has put together Rocchetta Grand Jeté, a gala that will be staged among the rolling hills of Monferrato, a Unesco heritage site, which produces some of the world's best wines.
Francesca Massone Incisa della Rocchetta, owner of the winery, said,
It is a real honour for my brother Filiberto and me to host this event, with some of the most important stars of the Royal Ballet. When I proposed the idea to dear Meaghan of organising a performance here in Monferrato, in Rocchetta Tanaro, she and many of her colleagues did not hesitate to reply with a big yes.
The relationship between Monferrato and dance began in 2021 when, during the Covid emergency, the Cantine dei Marchesi Incisa della Rocchetta supported the Royal Opera House and The Royal Ballet in London with the “A Bottle For The Arts” initiative, launching a collectable Limited Edition bottle of Barbera d'Asti Superiore with a label designed Ashley Dean, a soloist with the company, and part of the proceeds going to the theatre.
A full programme includes gala hits – Le Corsaire, Ashton's Voices of Spring, Swan Lake, Manon – as well as Kenneth MacMillan's last piece of choreography, from the musical Carousel, danced by Mayara Magri and Matthew Ball; a piece by Liam Scarlett with Laura Morera and Ryoichi Hirano; a pas de deux from Wayne McGregor's Chroma with Anna Rose O'Sullivan and Giacomo Rovero; Ashton's Meditation from Thaïs and the Rhapsody pas de deux; Taisuke Nakao, Meaghan Grace Hinkis and Daichi Ikarashi in Les Lutins by Johan Kobborg; a couple of recent pieces unknown to me; and Steven McRae will surely bring the house down as he slips on his tap shoes once more. There will be coverage of the event on gramilano next week.
Tickets to attend the performance are on sale online starting at 60 euros.
Rocchetta Grand Jeté has been generously sponsored by the Piedmont Region, the Asti Province, the Rocchetta Tanaro town council – where the vineyard is situated – as well as the Langhe Monferrato Roero Tourist Board and the ‘Wines of Piedmont' Consortium.
All photos are by Andrej Uspenski, courtesy of Ballet at Athelhampton.
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.