The Royal Ballet’s Gary Avis and Friends

poster for a ballet gala with Gary Avis

Suffolk Dancer brings Royal Ballet & English National Ballet Stars to The Regent Theatre, Ipswich for the first time in almost 40 years

It’s been a long time coming, but (drum roll)… Ladies, Gentleman & Children, Gary Avis treads the boards in his home town with his gala on behalf of The Hunger Project.

After a 40 year gap, East Anglian audiences will once again have the chance to see stars from both The Royal Ballet and English National Ballet on stage at the Regent Theatre, Ipswich. It was back in the 60’s that the theatre last hosted performances by either of the companies.

But now, thanks to Ipswich born Royal Ballet dancer Gary Avis, world class dancers from both companies are coming to the town to take part in a unique charity gala event.

The Royal Ballet’s Gary Avis & Friends hosted by Angela Rippon OBE

The Regent Theatre, Ipswich, on Sunday September 11, 2011 at 1.30pm and 6.30pm

Names currently confirmed to appear are:

The Royal Ballet’s Roberta Marquez, Steven McRae, Nehemiah Kish, Yuhui Choe, Bennet Gartside, Melissa Hamilton, David Pickering, Paul Kay, Leanne Cope and English National Ballet Principal Begoña Cao.


dancer in jete
Gary Avis Photograph : Andrej Uspenski


Gary says: ‘‘I’m so pleased that so many of my friends from the ballet world have agreed to perform and I’m  also hugely grateful to Nigel Cliffe from The Royal Opera, Jazz Vocalist Jumoke Fashola and pianists Kate Shipway and Peter Edwards for also stepping up for the event. It’s going to be quite a show!’’

Ipswich born Royal Ballet Principal Character Artist Gary Avis is also Ballet Master at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden based company. He has formerly also danced with English National Ballet, was co-founder of K Ballet in Japan and also most notably partnered the great British Ballerina Darcey Bussell in many roles at The Royal Ballet including her farewell performance broadcast live by the BBC around the world. He then went on to appear as a guest star with Darcey and Katherine Jenkins in their Viva La Diva Arena Tour and also on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.

In the current repertoire he takes on many of the most demanding dancer-actor roles including Drosselmeyer in The Nutcracker, Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet, Ugly Sister in Cinderella, Monsieur GM in Manon, the evil Von Rothbart in Swan Lake, as well as many classical partnering roles including, most recently, Christopher Wheeldon’s DGV and Alastair Marriott’s Sensorium. He has also created roles for and worked with many more of the world’s greatest choreographers including Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Christopher Bruce, Christopher Hampson, Glen Tetley, Ronald Hynd, William Tuckett, David Bintley, Ashley Page, Mark Morris and Twyla Tharp. He has won rave reviews from the national and international press and wonderfully supportive receptions from Royal Opera House audiences for his performances in these and many other roles and is acknowledged as one of the leading dance actors in the world today. More details are available at Gary’s website

Gary says: “I have been dancing on the stage of the Royal Opera House, Royal Albert Hall and so many other wonderful venues around the world for many years now and yet I’ve haven’t set foot on the stage of The Regent Theatre, where the whole journey of my career actually began, for over 20 years. I’m so excited to finally be able to do that and perform for my home town. Last year, along with the wonderful Angela Rippon, I became a Patron of The Hunger Project, a charity that empowers people living in abject hunger and poverty in countries around the world, by supporting projects in their communities, inspired and driven by them, that will allow them to sustain themselves. We wanted to do something to raise money for The Hunger Project and to raise its profile. I also wanted to give young people in East Anglia an opportunity to interact with some of the world’s truly great ballet dancers. Having been in Ipswich with Dame Monica Mason and Anthony Russell-Roberts in the past few days to help launch the Sir Frederick Ashton, The Ballet and Suffolk Exhibition, (which is being held in a number of venues throughout the town until October), I am delighted to have their full support for this project and I’m so thrilled that we will be including a number of Sir Frederick’s greatest creations in the show along with a diverse selection of works by Sir Kenneth Macmillan, Christopher Wheeldon, Alastair Marriott and, of course, Liam Scarlett who is also from Ipswich.”  

Tickets for the performances go on sale on Friday, June 10th at 9.30am from The Regent Box Office. Tel: 01473 433100 or online at the Ipswich Regent website. Tickets are priced between £10 and £60 with special packages available for families and young people’s groups as well as a limited number of VIP packages for the evening performance only.

Final word from Gary, “While, of course, I want to raise money for The Hunger Project, I also want this to be an event everyone can afford to come and see, and enjoy.”

Ballet NEWS | Darcey Bussell and World Book Day

Tomorrow, 4th March 2010, children nationwide will be celebrating annual World Book Day, with the opportunity of exchanging a free voucher for one of a selection of £1 flip-books published especially to mark the occasion. This year, HarperCollins Children’s Books are delighted to announce their World Book Day ballet read, a special story entitled Magic Ballerina: The Magic Dance, which introduces The Royal Ballet prima ballerina Darcey Bussell’s book series to a host of new readers.

The Magic Ballerina series, launched in October 2008, is a highly collectible series for readers aged 5-8 who love dancing and dressing up! So far, Delphie, Rosa, and Holly have had adventures with the pair of magic red ballet shoes that transport the wearer to Enchantia, a land where all the characters from famous ballets live. Now it’s time for the shoes to be passed to a new girl, and Holly is tasked with finding the right person…

Magic Ballerina: The Magic Dance, Darcey Bussell

The Magic Dance – World Book Day £1 flip-book, published 4th March 2010
Jade loves street dancing, but could Holly persuade her to give ballet a go and take over possession of the magic red ballet shoes? Meanwhile, in Enchantia King Rat is up to mischief again. He’s banished the First Cuckoo of summer and disguised himself as King Tristan to play havoc at the palace. Can Holly save her friends from his dastardly ways one more time?

The series continues with three new stories starring Jade, complete with collectible stickers inside each book!

Jade and the Enchanted Wood – £3.99, published 4th March 2010
A mysterious package arrives for Jade – inside are a pair of red ballet shoes. Jade is curious, so she heads to Madame Za-Za’s ballet school… and is suddenly whisked away to the magical world of Enchantia! King Rat wants to build a fun fair in the Enchanted Wood and throw out all the people who live there. Can Jade protect them from his evil plans?

Jade and the Surprise Party – £3.99, published 4th March 2010
It’s the White Cat’s birthday! Everyone in Enchantia is planning the perfect party but something seems to be going wrong – guests keep disappearing. And there’s a mysterious photographer who might not be who she seems… Can Jade solve the mystery or will the party turn into a birthday disaster?

Jade and the Silver Flute – £3.99, published 29th April 2010
Precious things have been going missing in Enchantia in the lead up to a very special ceremony. Is someone trying to thwart the First Fairy and banish birdsong from Enchantia? Jade and the White Cat must unravel the clues before it’s too late!

“I wanted to inspire every little girl who wants to be a dancer, to fire their imagination about the joys of being on the stage.”

Darcey Bussell in an interview for You Magazine

Appealing to parents as a great role model, and to young girls as a huge inspiration, international Royal Ballet star Darcey Bussell helped to launch the series in October 2008 with a special UK visit from her Sydney home, which included bespoke Magic Ballerina dance class events in London and at the Cheltenham Literary Festival, book signings, media appearances on TV, and numerous print and online interviews. The series has so far sold more than 210,000 copies in the UK and more than 414,000 copies worldwide in ten different languages.

Darcey Bussell and HarperCollins have created the Magic Ballerina series in collaboration, working alongside an experienced author. Darcey was inspired by her two young daughters, and wanted to recreate something of the magic of theatre for little girls everywhere: “[My daughters have] seen me dance, and for any child walking into a theatre the magic created is like being in another world.”

Darcey Bussell, Press Association interview

This sparkly series will enchant all young girls who dream of becoming a ballerina, or who simply love fairytales and dressing-up. Featuring favourite characters from the world of ballet – including the Sugar Plum Fairy and Cinderella – the series also has a wonderful this-could-be-you element through a group of down-to-earth, loveable and dependable main characters.

And in case you didn’t know, a little about Darcey :

Darcey Bussell is a world famous Prima Ballerina. She joined The Royal Ballet School when she was 13 and, despite starting later than most of the other students, became a Principal of the Royal Ballet at just 19, at the time the youngest ballerina ever to be given this honour. Darcey received both the OBE and CBE awards during her time with The Royal Ballet, and after officially retiring in 2007 she teamed up with Katherine Jenkins in the phenomenally successful Viva la Diva musical. She is married with two daughters and splits her time between London and Australia. In autumn 2009 she appeared as a special guest judge on BBC2’s Strictly Come Dancing and gave a special performance on the show.