The Ann Maguire Gala in London: Ballet Adventures

The First Big Giveaway package is off in the post and I realize that I haven’t yet told you about my recent ballet travels!

Last month I was fortunate enough to be able to attend The Ann Maguire Gala in London. Many of you probably remember news from England last year about the tragic murder of a British teacher by one of her students while she was teaching class. That teacher’s name was Ann Maguire. Her daughter is Emma Maguire and she is a dancer at the Royal Ballet. To honor her mother and to raise funds for arts education as a memorial in her name, Emma put together a one night performance hosted by Darcey Bussell and Jonathan Cope and star studded with the who’s who of the Royal Ballet. So I bought a ticket and packed a bag.

One can’t really lose sight of the fact that this gala was born of a great tragedy but I have to say it was an amazing night of music and dance. This was my first trip to Sadler’s Wells and I really love this venue. It was simple to purchase tickets online and I picked them up at the ticket desk the evening of the performance – note* they do ask to see the credit card that you used to book so make sure that you have it with you! Certainly not opulent like The Royal Opera House, instead it is small and intimate. The lobby gets packed up full to the gills because it isn’t very big and that gives the whole place a little buzz of energy. The bar is nice and you can purchase little ice creams which is lovely.  The rake is sufficient so the view even from the rear of the stalls was very good. I can’t address the balconies or all those odd notes about blocked views and what have you on the website because I didn’t venture up there but the entire place being of small size, I can’t image the view from the tiers being that bad at all.

As for the performance itself…what a joy!! What an absolute joy! It makes me wonder if the artists themselves weren’t allowed to pick what they wanted to contribute or in what manner they chose the work but it was a beautiful arrangement of offerings – wonderfully balanced and every dancer seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely.

The lineup for the evening:

Act I

Monotones II by Sir Frederick Ashton danced by Christina Arestis, Nehemiah Kish (sigh*) and Ryoichi Hirano. I’m not the biggest fan of the costumes if I’m telling the truth – the little hats are… um, yeah.

Royal Ballet - Maguire, Trzensimiech, Takada

Royal Ballet – Maguire, Trzensimiech, Takada. © Dave Morgan

Memoria choreographed and danced by Miguel Altunaga, Miguel is from Rambert Dance not Royal as most of the other dancers. I enjoyed this piece but it did stand apart from the rest of the program, I thought.

Les Lutins by Johan Kobborg and danced by Emma Maguire, James Hay, and Marcelino Sambe. Kids, I have been waiting to see this in person!! And it is so good, so cute, so fun. We all need more of this!!

Lieder by Alastair Marriott and danced by Melissa Hamilton and Gary Avis.

Qualia, pas de deux choreographed by (unmistakably) Wayne McGregor and danced by Olivia Cowley and Edward Watson.

Rhapsody, pas de deux choreographed by Sir Frederick Ashton and danced by Laura Morera and Federico Bonelli.

Flames of Paris choreographed by Vasily Vainonen and danced by Yuhui Choe and Alexander Campbell.

Act II

Musance choreographed by Jonathan Watkins and danced by Claire Calvert, Yuhui Choe, Kristen McNally, Luca Acri, and Marcelino Sambe.

2nd Movement, pas de deux – Asphodel Meadows choreographed by Liam Scarlett and danced by Emma Maguire and Bennett Gartside (that’s Benn with two N’s, thank you very much).

Czardas, choreographed and danced by Steven McRae. That guy has some of the fastest feet on the planet! He’s a bit of a show off but when one can dance like that, with flaming red hair, and all kinds of cuteness, well, he can get away with it.

The Two Pigeons, pas de deux choreographed by Sir Frederick Ashton and danced by Helen Crawford and Ryoichi Hirano.

Borrowed Light choreographed by Alastair Marriott and danced by Marcelino Sambe.

No Man’s Land, pas de deux choreographed by Liam Scarlett and danced by Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg. I just can’t even tell you. JoLina. Oh my gosh! Oh. My. Goodness.

Requiem – Pie Jesu choreographed by Sir Kenneth MacMilan and danced by Yuhui Choe. YUHUI for Principal!!!

It was an amazing night that ended with a little film made by Crystal Ballet in which various dancers spoke about the importance of dance and arts education in their lives. Preaching to the choir but it was a lovely film and a fitting capstone to an immense evening. Everything was danced so beautifully  and each piece like a perfect little jewel in the velvet box of Sadler’s Wells. Sometimes I forget how much I enjoy the Royal Ballet since I so rarely get to see them. This company really does have impeccable dancers, just breathtaking. It was a truly wonderful evening and made better by the fact that I had lovely company of my dear friend, Nina Norris. What a perfect start to a trip to London!!

At the end of every single trip I realize that I have learned something new about making travel easier, better, things that make more sense so that I can enjoy more and worry less. I’m a note taker by nature so I always have a notebook with me and I usually spend some time on the flight back making note of what to remember for the next time. This trip I was thinking about how to pack even lighter (it’s a constant challenge! more fun than Tetris!!) and specifically how to pack to be able to take ballet class well and comfortably when traveling. So please stay tuned because I’m getting that post ready for you with some ideas that have worked for me and ideas that I’m planning to field test in the near future – and I promise not to leave you ballet boys out of the discussion.

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