Ballet NEWS | A Dream of Africa

September 28, 2009

Ballet, Ballet News, Reviews

Sunday, 27th September 2009
The Britten Theatre, Royal College of Music

Every now and then, like-minded people collaborate and generously give their time for a good cause. Masterminded by Henry Roche and Penny David, ‘A Dream of Africa’ was born – a heady mix of ballet and music to celebrate the lives of Martin Luther King and Barack Obama, and to raise funds for Ghana charity Ashanti Development.

Presented by Stephanie Lane, there were some wonderful musical interludes, skilfully played on the cello by Adrian Bradbury, piano by Henry Roche and Oliver Davies and violin by Robert Gibbs, but as this is the place for ballet, I have omitted the details here.

Song Without Words, Leticia Stock supported by Xander Parish & Sergei Polunin
Photo : Brenda Spooner

Our first ballet treat, Song Without Words, choreographed by Vanessa Fenton, follows the composer Mendelssohn’s own view that the Songs should not be interpreted too literally. Leticia Stock, newly graduated to the company (last seen in the Royal Ballet School Annual Matinee performance as Mustardseed from ’The Dream’), looks entirely at home with fellow Company dancers Sergei Polunin & Xander Parish. Dressed in black they were a sharp trio. Stock in particular has an aura about her that compels you to watch her dancing.

A Dream of Africa Royal Ballet PerformanceSong Without Words
Photo : Brenda Spooner

The St Paul’s School String Quartet accompanied Coincide and Collide (2009), which showed off newly promoted & beguiling Leanne Cope, in inky black, partnered by another newcomer, Tristan Dyer (graduate of The Royal Ballet School).

Coincide and Collide (2009), Leanne Cope and Tristan Dyer
Photo : Brenda Spooner

Cope has exquisite fluidity of movement and the pair handled the tricky off-balance turns & lifts with finesse to spare, as though they had been dancing together for years. Samantha Raine choreographed this piece which premiered at St Pauls two days earlier.

Coincide and Collide (2009)
Photo : Brenda Spooner

Who wouldn’t love a purple costume ? Liam Scarlett chose well for his dancers Emma-Jane Maguire and Ryoichi Hirano, dancing to Chopin. A World Premiere, Scarlett is already well established as a choreographer of note. Nocturne is a classical piece of interlocking arms, Maguire light and flowing with twittering feet, and Hirano a strong partner in the softly enfolding lifts.

Nocturne, Emma-Jane Maguire, Ryoichi Hirano
Photo : Brenda Spooner

MacMillan’s Concerto pas de deux, with Mara Galeazzi and Gary Avis, in dazzling colour, is slow and sculptural.

Concerto, Mara Galeazzi, Gary Avis
Photo : Brenda Spooner

Such movements require absolute control and Avis showed again just why he is such a highly regarded dance partner. Both were assured and serene throughout.

A Dream of Africa Royal Ballet PerformanceConcerto
Photo : Brenda Spooner

Our second World Premiere of the night, Dream Study, by Erico Montes, saw Romany Pajdak, Celisa Diuana and Claire Calvert bourrée backwards across the stage and dance with and away from each other, split by arabesques and beautifully shaped arms.

A Dream of Africa Royal Ballet PerformanceDream Study, Romany Pajdak, Celisa Diuana, Claire Calvert
Photo : Brenda Spooner

To close the evening, a story of young love. A young man is tempted to stray from his fiancée by a band of gypsies, but in the final pas de deux from The Two Pigeons, he realises that the grass is not always greener and is reunited with his true love.

The Two Pigeons, Leanne Cope, Paul Kay
Photo : Brenda Spooner

The pigeons themselves were absent, but the title is a metaphor for the young couple in the central roles.

A Dream of Africa Royal Ballet PerformanceThe Two Pigeons
Photo : Brenda Spooner

Leanne Cope’s characterisation of Ashton’s clever choreography references the pigeons throughout, all dreamy fluttering hands and head. Cope is admirably partnered by Paul Kay, attentive, romantic, and delightful. Perfectly matched. Perfection.

The Two Pigeons
Photo : Brenda Spooner

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15 Responses to “Ballet NEWS | A Dream of Africa”

  1. Couture Carrie Says:

    Another stunning post! Inspiring!xoxox,CC

  2. pve design Says:

    I love the yellow clad dancers!

  3. bARE-eYED sUN Says:

    absolutely gorgeous pix. they even seem to MOVE!luvitt. :-)can't say that we follow ballet,we DO so love to lindy, though . . .guess this makes us cousins of a sort,anyhoo,we WILL be stoppingby your blog on occasion.its refreshingly different.thank you for sharing….ero

  4. Bree Says:

    Beautiful! You have a very lovely blog!

  5. Pierrot le Fou Says:

    Stunning images and an interesting blog!

  6. Clare Says:

    Thank you for your lovely comment!You have a wonderful blog here too. So nice to read about something I know so little about (apart from ballet lessons when I was 5!)

  7. Rebecca Says:

    HelloThank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.You're post is beautiful. The dancers are lovelyBlessings, I hope you have a wonderful weekRebecca

  8. Mermaid Says:

    thank you ever so for your comment, dear! upon seeing your blog, i was indeed delighted. i would love to be a ballet dancer, i haven't the grace! xxxolivia♥

  9. That Hooligan Girl Says:

    Thank you for commenting on my blog. I really like this blog and what amazing pictures! I love ballet.

  10. Sheila Says:

    Thank you for stopping in at my little blog corner of the cyber world.. Love your blog, Amazing what people can do with their bodies.. Such grace, length, strength.. Just lovely..

  11. Carla Says:

    You were so kind to leave a comment on my blog Duckies. Thanks for it. You also have an inspiring blog. I will come back. Greeting from Holland.

  12. My Passport to Style Says:

    Hi Elsie, how do you do it, beautiful pictures and post capturing the sheer glory and mastery of dance!Would you mind sending me your email to, I have a favour to ask.Sharon xxx

  13. Elise Says:

    Couture Carrie – thank you so much, very kind of you to say sopve design – yes, the colour was very welcomebARE-eYED-sUN – thank youCaroline Robianto – thank youBree – you're too kind ! Thank youPierrot le Fou – thank you very muchClare – thank you – you are in good company hereRebecca – thank youMermaid – thank youThat Hooligan Girl – thank you and welcomeSheila – thankyou

  14. Elise Says:

    Carla – thank you and welcome !My Passport to Style – thankyou – you are too kind ! I have emailed you…