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Empower in Motion - ballet gala for Children Today Charity at Sadler’s Wells, 7 February 2024

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I was unable to attend this fascinating gala for such a brilliant cause due (very sadly) to circumstances beyond my control. However, I (and others) would be very interested to hear what those who went thought. 😊 💃 🎶 

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I think this format deserves a re-run.  Maybe annually … to raise awareness of how fulfilling this dance can be.  

The piece by Stop Gap Dance was the most inventive and Joe Powell-Main’s new solo was very powerful.  He does have a fabulous dance charisma on stage.  

The professional ballet dancers all gave superb performances, including the RB School duo.  Bravo to Shiori Kase for stepping in to the Le Corsaire pdd with a few days notice and only one day of rehearsal with Daniil Simkin.  She had fabulous control of the fiendish pirouette sequences.  Daniil delighted the crowd with his usual multiple 540s and other tricks.  Sangeun   Lee and Gareth Haw brought beauty and emotional depth to the Act 2 Giselle adagio and solos.  How wonderful that they are in London now.  

Maria Kotchetkova and Daniil Simkin closed the first act with a new duet by Sebastian Kloborg (Maria’s life partner).   It was humorous and cheerful and full of regular ballet moves you’d all recognise.  For some reason I was expecting contemporary.  They have a super chemistry and I hope they get to repeat this exuberant piece. The costumes were fun too.  

Bravo to organisers Ross Freddie Ray and Henry Dowden

Edited by FionaM
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7 hours ago, FionaM said:

And do read Joe Powell-Main’s posts of how this all came about … with photos and videos 


Part 1



Part 2


The second of these posts refers to the hope that this initiative will become an established part of the ballet scene. 
It must do.

The evening itself was fantastic: a superb mix of performances by both differently abled and abled dancers (several of them working in beautiful harmony). 
I was ‘educated’, moved and very much entertained throughout. Congratulations to everyone concerned. You can certainly dance!

And Organisers -WOW! Please keep going!

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Echoing the sentiments of @FionaM and @capybara....and not just because I didn't get to go, and would like to see the whole performance at a later date! 


My friends who went using my tickets (unfortunately aren't forum members or readers) told me the performance was  impressive and eye-opening, a revelation as to what dancers in wheelchairs or with a disability could do. They were also thrilled by the virtuosity of Kase, Simkin, Kochetkova, Lee and Haw. 


Of note, they mentioned that some fellow audience members had really dressed up for the occasion and it was lovely to see the enthusiasm for this gala. Also, donation boxes were available on the night into which my friends and others in the audience also made contributions, so hopefully the event raised a good amount of money  for the charity.


I'd certainly love the performers to do a repeat in future and fingers crossed I hope I can go to the next one. @alison too! 

Edited by Emeralds
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Firstly, huge congratulations to Henry Dowden and Ross Freddy Ray for bringing together so many organisations which work tirelessly to make dance accessible to all and for spotlighting them in an extremely well-organised evening at Sadler’s Wells Theatre.  I think what I will most remember from this evening was the absolute joy emanating from all those onstage, which was delightfully infectious.  And how wonderful to have this joy reflected in the new works instead of the expressionless or angst-filled experience favoured by most modern choreographers for professional companies!


The stand-out performance for me in the first half of the programme was “Tight Textures” by Lucy Bennett and performed with huge enthusiasm by Stopgap Dance Company who reminded us that not all disabilities are visible.  This piece was delivered with great panache in a humorous and, quite frankly, life-affirming way, beautifully reflecting the rhythms created by Lily Norton’s delivery of the witty text.


A word for budding choreographer Maia Rose Roberts of the Royal Ballet School, who created a very charming pas de deux for RBS students Emile Gooding and Tianie Finn-Grainger, danced with great style.


Unfortunately, “The Owl Falls” by Sebastian Kloborg left me cold.  Apparently it was meant to “begin where the 1895 libretto of Swan Lake ends” but, apart from the fact that we heard the final bars of Tchaikovsky’s score before Anna Meredith’s music began, and the grey striped costumes which I suppose could have been meant to indicate the owl, or Von Rothbart, the choreography appeared to have no direction and certainly did not show Daniil Simkin or, especially, Maria Kochetkova at their best.


The second half of the programme started with a film of rehearsals, mainly for the ballroom scene, of “Romeo and Juliet”, a joint project by Parable Dance, National Youth Ballet and All In!.  Sadly, the whole company did not participate in the live performance but we did have a section of the ‘balcony’ pas de deux danced by wheelchair-performer Grace Thompson and 15-year-old Zak Smith who is a student at the Place.  The choreographer is not credited in the programme but this was a very tender portrayal of young love.


In fact, there were three duets for wheelchair performers and able-bodied dancers included in the evening, each illustrating different relationships between the performers.  I particularly loved the joie de vie of “Reunion”, danced by Denecia Allen and Alice Bellini.


Of the solo work by wheelchair performers, perhaps the most striking was by Joseph Powell-Main who choreographed and performed “Passionately Defiant” which reflected his journey to continue his career as a dancer after severe injury through sheer determination which can see him able to gather enough strength and courage to rise from his wheelchair, throw away his crutches and pull off a series of pirouettes à la seconde.


This inspiring evening ended with a gala favourite, the showcase pas de deux from “Le Corsaire” which was much more suited to Daniil Simkin’s talents.  His last-minute Medora was the always spectacular Shiori Kase of breathtaking balances and firecracker fouetté turns, all delivered with effortless grace.

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I’m always surprised by such different opinions.  I loved everything about ‘The Owl Falls’.  The quirky costumes, the lighting, the wide-ranging choreography, the playful interaction of the dancers, their wonderful virtuoso technique.

I did not read about the piece beforehand.  That is my usual preference so that I can absorb what is shown to me without much preconception.  

In this case I had seen clips on Instagram (unavoidable as I follow these dancers), however the clips shown only reflected one aspect of the piece.  

Great piece for something different at ballet galas.  

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