Stars from The Royal Ballet to perform at Gary Avis and Friends Gala at Ipswich Regent on September 10 and 11

PUBLISHED: 06:00 25 April 2016

Mara Galeazzi & Gary Avis in Onegin 

Onegin, The Royal Ballet
The Royal Opera House
Choreography, John Cranko
Music, Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Designs, Jurgen Rose
Lighting, Steen Bjarke

Mara Galeazzi & Gary Avis in Onegin Onegin, The Royal Ballet The Royal Opera House Choreography, John Cranko Music, Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky Designs, Jurgen Rose Lighting, Steen Bjarke Artist:

© Johan Persson

Royal Ballet star Gary Avis is fulfilling a life-long ambition by bringing an international gala event to his Suffolk home town.

Dancer Gary Avis. Photograph Simon ParkerDancer Gary Avis. Photograph Simon Parker

Gary, who is principal character artist and ballet master with the company, will be bringing a showcase event to the Ipswich Regent this autumn where a company, packed with a galaxy of top flight Royal Ballet dancers, will perform a specially created programme of ballet classics – including some rarities.

The packed show, which has been curated and designed by Gary, will be raising funds for the Suffolk Community Foundation’s Arts and Heritage Fund, established by the former High Sheriff Judith Shallow. Money from the fund will be used to help community arts projects across the county.

Gary said that established and rising stars from The Royal Ballet will be joining him on stage to revisit some of their favourite pieces while for Gary and a couple of other dancers it will offer an opportunity to dance ‘bucket list’ pieces – performances which have so far eluded them during their professional career.

The event is being hosted by Strictly Come Dancing star Anton du Beke who jumped at the chance of being part of such a prestigious event.

Gary Avis in Swan LakeGary Avis in Swan Lake

Speaking from his home near Eye, in north Suffolk, Gary said: “This will be the largest gathering of Royal Ballet dancers outside London in almost two decades with two truly spectacular shows planned. It also creates the opportunity to build an important and positive legacy for the county. The funds raised, we hope as much as £100,000, will benefit people most in need right across our county.”

He said that he has managed to pull together a first-class list of Royal Ballet stars which would never be seen on stage together during a normal performance at Covent Garden. “It will be a truly special occasion. The people will be able to see the cream of world ballet on stage in Ipswich, which is fantastic. It helps promote Ipswich as a wonderful cultural centre. It’s the home of DanceEast, the New Wolsey. Just before our two nights, Trevor Nunn will be staging A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream in the town. Ipswich is really coming into its own.

“I’m proud to come from Ipswich and it’s time we started to celebrate the wonderful cultural opportunities we have in the town and across Suffolk.”

The cast list includes Alexander Campbell, Reece Clarke, fellow Ipswich native Helen Crawford, Mara Galeazzi, Meaghan Grace Hinkis, Emma Maguire, Matthew Ball, Lukas Bjorneboe Braendsrod, Beatriz Stix-Brunell, Luca Acri, Ryoichi Hirano, Fumi Kaneko, Yasmine Naghdi, Kate Shipway and Zenaida Yanowsky.

Gary Avis & Helen Crawford backstage in MoscowGary Avis & Helen Crawford backstage in Moscow

Gary said that he has relished the opportunity to work as a creative director, pulling together varied elements to make a balanced and fun show which works for both the knowledgeable ballet connoisseur and the person who just enjoys watching ‘a bit of dance’.

“There will be something for everyone’ including iconic pas de deux from Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake and The Nutcracker to spectacular modern classics by Wayne McGregor, Liam Scarlett, William Tuckett and Christopher Wheeldon. There will also be a very special celebration of works by two choreographers who have very special links with Suffolk – Sir Frederick Ashton and Ronald Hynd.

“The last time the Royal Ballet came to Suffolk, in 1961, Ronald Hynd was not only in the company but they danced one of his pieces. We hope to reprise that piece and hopefully he will be in the audience to witness our special piece of time travel.”

Tim Holder, development director of Suffolk Community Foundation, said that he was delighted that DanceEast had joined forces with the Royal Ballet’s education department to deliver a series of workshops across the county during the summer.

Anton Du Beke who will be hosting Gary Avis and Freinds at the Ipswich Regent in SeptemberAnton Du Beke who will be hosting Gary Avis and Freinds at the Ipswich Regent in September

“We have created a strong education and outreach partnership with Brendan Keaney and his team at Dance East. Hundreds of young people from right across Suffolk will have the opportunity to work closely with dancers from The Royal Ballet Company and an opportunity to see world class dance possibly for the first time.”

The Royal Ballet’s Gary Avis and Friends will be staged at the Ipswich Regent on September 10 and 11. Tickets go on sale on May 4.

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