BALLET ICONS GALA - Yasmine Naghdi, Matrcelino Sambe. Photo by Kristyna Kashvili

Ballet Icons Gala presented an awe-inspiring programme of 26 world-famous dancers, 13 ballets, 2 world premieres creating a sensational evening of classical and modern works.

With dancers from the Bolshoi, New York City Ballet, Mariinsky, The Royal Ballet, Berlin State Ballet, English National Ballet, Mikhailovsky, Paris Opera Ballet and more expectations were high, and the ballet stars didn’t disappoint their adoring (and glamorously dressed) fans that filled the decadent London Coliseum.

The wonderfully curated programme opened with Ekaterina Kondaurova and Timur Askerov performing a glorious Grand Pas Classic, followed by Diamonds danced by Alyona Kovalyova and Xander Parish with as much sparkle as the jewel itself. Lucia Lacarra and Matthew Golding’s moving duet Finding Light choreographed by Edwaard Liang, drew much appreciation from the audience. Royal Ballet stars Yasmine Naghdi and Marcelino Sambé brought the classics back with an impressive extract from the romantic Giselle. Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Frida added character and colour with a playful portrayal by Maia Makhateli and James Stout. Maria Alexandrova and Vladislav Lantratov hit the stage with heat and sass in Carmen Suite.

BALLET ICONS GALA - DIAMONDS (from Jewels) Alyona Kovalyova and Xander Parish. Photo by Kristyna Kashvili
BALLET ICONS GALA – DIAMONDS (from Jewels) Alyona Kovalyova and Xander Parish. Photo by Kristyna Kashvili

One of the stand out performances of the evening (which is pretty hard to do with this stellar cast!) was Nicoletta Manni (La Scala Ballet) and Julian MacKay (Mikhailovsky Theater) with their smashing Don Quixote filled with her sizzling style, perfect Fouettés and his high lifts and higher leaps that received shrills from the stalls.

The second part of the evening opened with the Russian superstar Natalia Osipova and her partner Jason Kittelberger in his world premiere of Once With, that gave us an intimate modern duet that saw Natalia in simple dress, ballet stockings turned up revealing bare feet, as they explored their physical and emotional connection that showed their individual artistry and combined chemistry.

BALLET ICONS GALA - Natalia Osipova and Jason Kittelberger. Photo by Kristyna Kashvili
BALLET ICONS GALA – Natalia Osipova and Jason Kittelberger. Photo by Kristyna Kashvili

Continuing the contemporary ballet theme was Angelin Peljocaj’s Le Parc, beautiful exportation of love and desire, performed lovingly by Vittoria Valerio and Claudio Coviello. The second world premiere was another highlight of the evening with exceptional performances by Luisa Ieluzzi and Giuseppe Picone in his deeply absorbing duet, Elegie. With almost nude, barely-there costumes, the phenomenal physiques of the dancers were revealed in every movement, every extension, with leg and stomach, back and arm muscles rippling through every step that literally wowed the audience. This is a piece I could watch over and over again with these two dancers!
Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty ebbed us back to the classics with this much-loved pas de deux by Ekaterina Krysanova and Artem Ovcharenko adorned in jewels that sparkled as much as their performances. One of the most applauded pieces was the raw and emotional duet from Akram Khan’s Dust, with its dark lighting, dramatic scratchy score and poignant performance by Erina Takahashi and James Streeter that etched into our hearts.

BALLET ICONS GALA - LE PARC - dancers Victoria Valerio and Claudio Corviello. Photo by Kristyna Kashvili
BALLET ICONS GALA – LE PARC – dancers Victoria Valerio and Claudio Corviello. Photo by Kristyna Kashvili

Closing the Gala was the ballet stars Iana Salenko and Daniil Simkin in the explosive Le Corsaire. Dressed in royal blue and adorned in diamonds and sapphires, Iana Salenko’s pure perfection together with Daniil Simkin’s gravity defying complex leaps and turns literally brought the house down. And when Iana went in for the famous fouettés with complete confidence, the crowded roared, cheering her and Daniil as they poured every once of their technical and artistic prowess into their performance so dazzling that it literally brought tears of joy to my eyes! A magical and memorable Gala!

Reviewed at London Coliseum on 26th of January