On Sunday 3rd April the ballet world descended on Sadler’s Wells Theatre to support Royal Ballet Principal Mara Galeazzi in her quest to raise money for children’s charities in Africa and here in the UK. With six world premieres and celebrity hosts, dancers and choreographers, the evening promised to be spectacular. I was lucky enough to attend and had amazing seats right at the front which allowed me to see every detail of the performances and to get a real look at Mara’s amazing technique. Not having attended Mara’s gala last year, I wasn’t sure what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised to see that children were involved, after all it was a gala for children.
The gala opened with a gorgeous little boy, Thomas Round, reciting ‘Where the children grow’ by Christy Dawson. He immediately melted the hearts of the audience and created a warm and happy atmosphere that continued until curtain down.
The gala was a good mix of music and dance, although the order of items was a little off in my opinion, with some musical items back to back. Never, however have I seen such a talented and varied bunch of performers come together in one show.
In the musical corner there was the incredible 11-year-old violinist, Stephanie Childress, who wowed the audience by playing Pablo de Sarasate’s Gypsy Airs. I’m sure we will be seeing more of Stephanie in the future as she vies for her place as the next Vanessa Mae.
Then there was, Thomas Harris, a concert pianist who played Chopin’s Ballade no.3 and Rachmaninov’s Prelude no.5 – my two favourite composers – beautifully.
In terms of dance the audience was thoroughly spoiled with a huge variety of ballet, neo-classical, tap and contemporary. I particularly enjoyed Mara’s solo that transported me to the planes of the African Savannah and also her incredibly technical pas de deux, Look West, with Gary Avis which included some amazing lifts. My only criticism would be that it didn’t last long enough!
Other favourites from the vast repertoire were The Black Swan pas de deux danced immaculately by Yuhui Choe and Nehemiah Kish. However the happy ambiance of the audience must have spread to the dancers by this point because Yuhui was far too smiley for Odile! I also really enjoyed the new company ‘Void’ created by the Ballet Boyz. They highlighted just how athletic male dancers are and alongside acts like the English National Ballet’s Men Y Men are doing wonders for male dance.
Despite short but moving videos of the work that Mara is doing for children’s charities the gala was not heavy or devoid of humour. 4 Poofs minus their piano did a comical take on Swan Lake’s cygnets and Raffaele Morra from Les Ballets Trokadero de Monte Carlo performed an impressive yet hilarious take on Anna Pavlova’s Dying Swan!
All in all a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding experience. Mara is not only an incredibly gifted dancer but a great role model for the dance world. BBC four take note – this is the sort of ecstasy that The Agony and Ecstasy failed to get across!
Dancing for the children raises money for Great Ormond Street Hospital and for children in South Africa. To donate click here