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Bruce Wall

Laurretta Summerscales' "Dancing for a Dream" gala in Woking, 10th November

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I very much enjoyed this programme - a gala with both a point and a heart.  Acosta showed himself a much more able partner than he was at ENB - and Summerscales fouettes in her UK debut in  the Don Q PDD easily illustrated that she could now readily tango with Rojo's.  Both did their nephew proud.  Very proud indeed.  (I only wish there had been some set up for Cranko's Shrew PDD as the audience around me simply didn't 'get it').  Evening highlights for me included Dingman's glorious variation in the Tschai PDD - simply stunning, Guneo's 'added' solo piece - sorry didn't catch the name but certainly did his beautiful line; Cao and Souza who were both electrifying in the In Memory Of PDD - so ripe for this occasion as much as for that day; BRB's Lawrence and Matthews giving sorrowful legato in their White Swan PDD and much joy being beamed by two real life couples - the RB's Corrales and his lady love, ENB's Katja Khaniukova, in their Corsaire PDD - she dazzled while his life enriching smile at this pairing could have lit up the theatre for days - if not weeks - and Kaneko and Clarke in After the Rain - after what must have been a full on weekend for both - gnawing here in full choreographic flight all the while garnished with radiant ardour.  The final curtain call - replete with the star attraction - Dexter - was touching in the extreme - simply because it wasn't sentimental.  The cherry on this fanciful cake was when Wayne Sleep - who seemed hugely titillated with his own gaffs throughout the evening - was the announcement that Dexter would be flying with his mother to the US on 25th January to get his well deserved medical treatment.  Too right!  A celebration in deed.  

 

Edited by Bruce Wall
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3 hours ago, Bruce Wall said:

much joy being beamed by two real life couples - the RB's Corrales and his lady love, ENB's Katja Khaniukova, in their Corsaire PDD - she dazzled while his life enriching smile at this pairing could have lit up the theatre for days - if not weeks

 

I didn't know Corrales & Khaniukova were a couple. I'm now a bit surprised that he moved to the RB rather than stayed at ENB with her. Although I suppose even if they were in the same company they might not get to dance together, given the RB's various couples don't get to that often.

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I've always thought of Woking as the sort of place I'd need a jolly good reason to travel to - like if I lived there. Well, yesterday it turned out there was another, really worthwhile, reason to visit - the fund-raising gala Dancing for a Dream.

 

This was organised by Laurretta Summerscales and Jonah Acosta to support specialist treatment in the States for a young relative, Dexter.

The dancing couple had enlisted the help of many luminaries in the ballet world, and even boasted Wayne Sleep (dressed in a sparkily-lapelled suit - though I have no doubt he has suits that are even more sparkily!) acting as compere (and doing a brief, 'impromptu' dance number just before the cast all reappeared on stage at the end) - but I'm getting ahead of myself.

 

Our arrival did nothing to dispel my pre-existing view of Woking. The theatre was to one side of a large complex of shops and a maze-like multi-storey car park. We finally got our bearings, got out of the maze and arrived at the grandly-titled The Ambassadors within the larger complex, which proudly boasted two theatres and four cinemas (which must be tiny, I thought).

But what a revelation once inside the Tardis-like New Victoria Theatre! It's massive - seating over 1300 people.

OK, it's all very 'functional' in terms of design, but the stage is big and deep, the auditorium is wide, and the seats are comfortable and spacious. The only thing I didn't like was the blue ceiling lighting which stayed on (for safety reasons? or to keep the whole place sterile?!) during the performance.

 

From where we were sat I reckon the auditorium was about 80% full - really impressive.

 

The evening started with a projected film covering Dexter's ongoing medical and developmental problems - all stemming from brain-damage suffered during a traumatic birth four years earlier. The determination of family, friends and community to support Dexter through his numerous, tragic setbacks was inspiring. Our hearts went out to him and them. 

 

Then on came Wayne Sleep to shake us out of any despair we might be feeling and to urge us to treat the evening as a 'party'; this was a fund-raising event for treatment that might help him live as normally as possible. 

 

And my oh my, what a brilliant show it turned out to be. Two one-hour segments, with a 20 min break in between. The music was mostly stock-recorded (though one piece was recorded by Gavin Sutherland on piano) but extremely well thought out and rehearsed:- this is in MARKED contrast to some of the, on paper, 'better' galas I've seen at the Coli, which have appeared hastily thrown together and probably rehearsed via face-time.

 

It was clear in the introduction and programme (a mere £3 - why didn't they just charge £5 and be done with it?) that Dexter was supported not just by his relatives but also by the broader community. It was, therefore, entirely appropriate that four of the pieces were performed by an important component of the broader dancing community - pupils at various ballet schools. By appreciating their skills from a relative rather than absolute point of view, they were absolutely fantastic, uplifting and a credit to themselves and their teachers (I just marvelled at their ability to remember all those complex steps and patterns). And what a wonderful opportunity to gain experience performing in front of over a thousand enthusiastic people! Some of them seemed so young that by ten o'clock it must have been hours past their normal bedtime. 

 

But, regardless of our enthusiastic reception, we also wanted to see the 'stars' - and last night those stars shone strong and bright. Not everything in a gala is going to appeal equally to everyone, but even those pieces I enjoyed less were performed with consummate skill and dedicated effort. 

 

The Taming of the Shrew: Summerscales and Acosta. They danced and played this to good comic effect - with his patient perseverance gradually winning out and bringing to the fore a real sense of their mutual attraction.

 

There followed something not listed in the programme. Introduced by Wayne Sleep as a 'surprise piece' it was called what sounded like Adjura and was danced by Oriel Gouneo (who was listed in the programme as doing the male variation in the later Le Corsaire, which he didn't then do).

The music sounded like a guitar piece that gradually increased in temp and volume. He was dressed in what appeared to be a loose, orange outfit that resembled those worn for martial arts. The piece was full of pent-up energy, occasionally and powerfully released through spins and 'judo' poses. It was all very impressive and drew a huge cheer from the audience. I found myself thinking, in no particular order, of Flamenco, Bruce Lee and Guantanamo Bay.

 

Manon Bedroom Scene PDD: McWhinney and Arrieta. A thoroughly enjoyable rendition of this classic PDD. As with the rest of the evening, a palpable sense they had rehearsed this together and were thoroughly at ease with each other (though, as with other recent performances at the ROH, that second arched lift towards the back right of the stage proved slightly problematic).

 

Dying Swan: Javier Torres. This re-working of the classic was my least favourite piece. Twice as long as the original (with the first half dominated by sounds of a harsh wind blowing) the bare torso on display was impressive, but if anyone's going to mess with the original, I want it to be the Trocs!

 

Le Corsaire: Khaniukova and Corrales. And speaking of bare torsos, you wait ages for one, then two come along one after the other! This show-stopper did its job in bringing the first part of the evening to a close. Corrales filled the stage with his speedy leaps, bounds and turns, and Khaniukova's fouettes were beautiful to behold. Again, it was just so obvious they were comfortable dancing this piece together, which allowed the quality to flow unimpeded.

 

Tchaikovsky PDD: Yaoqian Shang and Mathais Dingman. I found myself thinking, if this show-stopper was being used to start the second part, where on earth were were going after that? They both really impressed, but perhaps what most impressed were his sequence of jump/spins, all of which he landed in perfect fifth. Oh joy!

 

After the Rain: Kaneko and Clarke. A complete change of pace with this one - slow-motion, with nowhere to hide. But with Fumi and Reece, who needs to hide? She was just absolutely gorgeous, even when just stood there on stage. She had her hair loose - I didn't realise it was dark and so long! And when it came to dancing, they were perfect together; both graceful, both strong. She is a principal-in-waiting - which begs the question, why is she waiting?! 

 

Swan Lake: Delia Mathews and Brandon Lawrence. This slow, classical PDD perhaps suffered from following on from the captivating performance of Kaneko and Clarke, as I didn't feel there was much of a connection between them (although, technically, they carried the whole thing off very well). But, of course, it is a crowd-pleaser more so than the Wheeldon piece.

 

No Mans Land: Begona Cao and Junor Souza. What an inspired decision to include this PDD on Remembrance Sunday! It definitely added poignancy to an othewise superbly-realised performance by the dancers. The sense of loss and longing, expressed through the woman imagining dancing with her dead/missing husband/fiance (with a confused sense of disjunction expressed by him) was impressive given it was excised from the whole ballet and presented without staging.

This may have pipped some of the other strong contenders to be my favourite piece of the evening, and one that brought tears to the eyes.

 

Don Quixote: Summerscales and Acosta. Another show-stopper to finish the evening. A bit like Le Corsaire, we were treated to some fabulous fouettes by Laurretta and startling spins by Yonah. He also did a couple of what looked like 540 kicks in martial arts (again, not sure what the proper term is) - the sort of thing Ivan Vasiliev used to casually drop into just about anything he did.

 

All the dancers came out at the end - to thunderous applause. This became even louder when, to the surprise of just about everyone in the theatre, Dexter appeared on stage in a pushchair. He was full of energy and was obviously thoroughly enjoying the whole occasion.

Wayne Sleep was also able to announce that the fund-raising target had been reached and Dexter would be travelling to the States in the new year for treatment.

We all left on an understandable high (which Woking shopping centre then did its best to deflate in the log-jam of cars trying to get out through a painfully-slow pair of ticket barriers...).

 

(I'll post some pics later)

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Hmm, can't seem to upload more than one pic, even in separate posts...☹️

 

Mods, please feel free to delete this post as it serves no useful function.

Edited by Nogoat
defeated by the technology...

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Hope you get the piccies sorted eventually.

Great review Thankyou 

I lived just outside Woking until 18 and couldn't get away fast enough!! 

Even though it was the nearest "shopping" centre we never went there .....always to Guildford or Kingston much longer drives! 

When they rebuilt the centre with all the roads crossing the centre in a one way system it seemed to take another dive!!

I think the theatre there is it's saving grace.

Anyway sadly too far for me to go this time ....as still not able to drive and train from Brighton to Woking is via Clapham Junction so a long tedious affair to get back from.

So glad you enjoyed it I thought it would be good and disappointed I couldn't make it after all and the objective was achieved great news for Lauretta Summerscales and her family.

 

 

 

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Thanks for that incredibly detailed review, Nogoat.  It makes me feel like I was there!  

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This was an evening of delights, made even more special by the announcement at the end that enough money had been raised to send the inspirational Dexter, nephew of Laurretta Summerscales and Yonah Acosta, to the USA for his vital treatment.  It is testament to the high regard and affection in which Summerscales is held by her friends and colleagues in the dance world that everyone on and offstage gave up their Sunday to rehearse and perform, and that copyright owners had allowed their works to be performed for this most worthy of causes, especially the Cranko Trust, the MacMillan Trust and the Balanchine Foundation.  Four local dance schools with associations for the Summerscales family were welcome additions, with their highly disciplined, enthusiastic performances.  I thought Summerscales organised the programme very well, with a good mix of dramatic and lighthearted items, ending each half with a well-known show-stopper.

 

In the first half, it was wonderful to see a pas de deux from “The Taming of the Shrew” by John Cranko danced with such spirit and humour, and a fine sense of comic timing, by Summerscales and Acosta, taking on the roles of Katerina and Petruchio for which they have won critical acclaim in Munich.  This contrasted very well with the romantic lyricism of the Act I bedroom pas de deux from Kenneth MacMillan’s “Manon” danced by Alison McWhinney and Aitor Arrieta.  They danced the complete ballet with different partners last season for English National Ballet but have recently performed “Cinderella” together and again I was struck by the chemistry between the two of them, bringing a delightfully youthful passion to their performance.  There were also two interesting solos in the first half, the first being a change to the programme, danced with great style and sensuality by Osiel Gouneo but unfortunately I did not make a note of the name of the piece or its choreographer.  Javier Torres gave a particularly soulful interpretation of Michel Descombey’s “Dying Swan”.  The first half was brought to a rousing conclusion by the perennial favourite, the adagio and coda from “Le Corsaire” danced with great panache and technical brilliance by Cesar Corrales and Katja Khaniukova.  With his ardour and her exquisite delicacy, they perfectly complement each other and this was especially evident in the beautiful lifts in the adagio.  The coda brought all the expected fireworks with much audience delight at Corrales’s sensational turns in second and Khaniukova’s immaculate series of at least 32 fouetté turns.  She will be performing the complete role of Medora with ENB next week in Milton Keynes but sadly not in her dream partnership with Corrales.

 

The second half opened with a joyful performance of Balanchine’s “Tchaikovsky pas de deux” using less familiar music from “Swan Lake”, danced with lovely style by Yaoqian Shang and Mathais Dingman.  Arvo Pärt’s “Spiegel im Spiegel” is a piece of music I love but I felt “After the Rain”, Christopher Wheeldon’s interpretation of it, ran out of choreographic steam halfway through, despite being beautifully danced by Fumi Kaneko and Reece Clarke.  It was a shame that compère Wayne Sleep did not explain the context of the final pas de deux from Liam Scarlett’s “No Man’s Land”, especially as it was being performed on Remembrance Sunday, although no-one in the audience could fail to be moved by the exquisite beauty and poignant interpretation of Begoña Cao and Junor Souza.  To watch Cao is to watch an artist in her absolute prime, and she was partnered to perfection by the equally impressive Souza, the two of them never failing to bring me to tears with this most elegiac pas de deux.  I very much hope this is not the last time we see this magical partnership in performance.  The evening ended with a glorious rendition of the “Don Quixote” pas de deux by Summerscales and Acosta, performing it together in the UK for the first time.  I have always regarded Summerscales as the most joyous of dancers, whose love of dancing is tangible whenever she takes to the stage, and this was evident as she completely ‘owned’ the stage as Kitri, sailing effortlessly through the technical difficulties and giving us an enchanting solo.  As with Khaniukova, her series of fouetté turns was immaculate and thrilling.  Likewise, Acosta’s Basilio was full of charm and equally impressive in his pyrotechnics.  I hope it will not be long before we see the wonderful partnership of Summerscales and Acosta onstage in the UK again. All in all, this was a highly entertaining way to spend a Sunday evening and in the most deserving of causes. 

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Just as a little addendum, I should add that Khaniukova is dancing with the fabulous Jeffrey Cirio in "Le Corsaire" next week in Milton Keynes, and having loved them together in "Cinderella" last season (as Clementine and Ben), no doubt this will be another partnership to treasure in this ballet.

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7 hours ago, Irmgard said:

It was a shame that compère Wayne Sleep did not explain the context of the final pas de deux from Liam Scarlett’s “No Man’s Land”, especially as it was being performed on Remembrance Sunday, although no-one in the audience could fail to be moved by the exquisite beauty and poignant interpretation of Begoña Cao and Junor Souza.  To watch Cao is to watch an artist in her absolute prime, and she was partnered to perfection by the equally impressive Souza, the two of them never failing to bring me to tears with this most elegiac pas de deux.  I very much hope this is not the last time we see this magical partnership in performance. 

 

I so agree, Irmgard. This pas de deux was heart-rending and performed to perfection by a partnership (Begona Cao and Junor Souza) which has been so affecting in the full "Lest We Forget" programme from ENB - both the Scarlett and the Malliphant pieces. If this was Begona's farewell to the stage - and I sincerely hope it isn't - she will have gone  out on the highest of highs.

 

But, above all, huge kudos to Laurretta and Yonah for putting together such a well-balanced and beautifully danced programme. To do that is much harder than it might appear! And it was lovely to see them both dancing in the UK again.

 

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8 hours ago, Irmgard said:

.

 

15 hours ago, Irmgard said:

This was an evening of delights, made even more special by the announcement at the end that enough money had been raised to send the inspirational Dexter, nephew of Laurretta Summerscales and Yonah Acosta, to the USA for his vital treatment.  It is testament to the high regard and affection in which Summerscales is held by her friends and colleagues in the dance world that everyone on and offstage gave up their Sunday to rehearse and perform, and that copyright owners had allowed their works to be performed for this most worthy of causes, especially the Cranko Trust, the MacMillan Trust and the Balanchine Foundation.  Four local dance schools with associations for the Summerscales family were welcome additions, with their highly disciplined, enthusiastic performances.  I thought Summerscales organised the programme very well, with a good mix of dramatic and lighthearted items, ending each half with a well-known show-stopper.

 

In the first half, it was wonderful to see a pas de deux from “The Taming of the Shrew” by John Cranko danced with such spirit and humour, and a fine sense of comic timing, by Summerscales and Acosta, taking on the roles of Katerina and Petruchio for which they have won critical acclaim in Munich.  This contrasted very well with the romantic lyricism of the Act I bedroom pas de deux from Kenneth MacMillan’s “Manon” danced by Alison McWhinney and Aitor Arrieta.  They danced the complete ballet with different partners last season for English National Ballet but have recently performed “Cinderella” together and again I was struck by the chemistry between the two of them, bringing a delightfully youthful passion to their performance.  There were also two interesting solos in the first half, the first being a change to the programme, danced with great style and sensuality by Osiel Gouneo but unfortunately I did not make a note of the name of the piece or its choreographer.  Javier Torres gave a particularly soulful interpretation of Michel Descombey’s “Dying Swan”.  The first half was brought to a rousing conclusion by the perennial favourite, the adagio and coda from “Le Corsaire” danced with great panache and technical brilliance by Cesar Corrales and Katja Khaniukova.  With his ardour and her exquisite delicacy, they perfectly complement each other and this was especially evident in the beautiful lifts in the adagio.  The coda brought all the expected fireworks with much audience delight at Corrales’s sensational turns in second and Khaniukova’s immaculate series of at least 32 fouetté turns.  She will be performing the complete role of Medora with ENB next week in Milton Keynes but sadly not in her dream partnership with Corrales.

 

The second half opened with a joyful performance of Balanchine’s “Tchaikovsky pas de deux” using less familiar music from “Swan Lake”, danced with lovely style by Yaoqian Shang and Mathais Dingman.  Arvo Pärt’s “Spiegel im Spiegel” is a piece of music I love but I felt “After the Rain”, Christopher Wheeldon’s interpretation of it, ran out of choreographic steam halfway through, despite being beautifully danced by Fumi Kaneko and Reece Clarke.  It was a shame that compère Wayne Sleep did not explain the context of the final pas de deux from Liam Scarlett’s “No Man’s Land”, especially as it was being performed on Remembrance Sunday, although no-one in the audience could fail to be moved by the exquisite beauty and poignant interpretation of Begoña Cao and Junor Souza.  To watch Cao is to watch an artist in her absolute prime, and she was partnered to perfection by the equally impressive Souza, the two of them never failing to bring me to tears with this most elegiac pas de deux.  I very much hope this is not the last time we see this magical partnership in performance.  The evening ended with a glorious rendition of the “Don Quixote” pas de deux by Summerscales and Acosta, performing it together in the UK for the first time.  I have always regarded Summerscales as the most joyous of dancers, whose love of dancing is tangible whenever she takes to the stage, and this was evident as she completely ‘owned’ the stage as Kitri, sailing effortlessly through the technical difficulties and giving us an enchanting solo.  As with Khaniukova, her series of fouetté turns was immaculate and thrilling.  Likewise, Acosta’s Basilio was full of charm and equally impressive in his pyrotechnics.  I hope it will not be long before we see the wonderful partnership of Summerscales and Acosta onstage in the UK again. All in all, this was a highly entertaining way to spend a Sunday evening and in the most deserving of causes. 

Many thanks for this review, Irmgard.  I notice that you've mentioned everyone participating except Brandon Lawrence and Delia Matthews in the white pdd from Swan Lake.  Was this just an omission, or did you dislike their performance? 

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17 hours ago, Sim said:

Thanks for that incredibly detailed review, Nogoat.  It makes me feel like I was there!  

Me too - it was so vivid.

 

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