Bravissimo Productions is bringing a Ballet Gala to town
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Bravissimo Productions is bringing a Ballet Gala to town

The World Superstars of Ballet Gala. Bravissimo Productions. Canberra Theatre. October 2 and 3 at 7.30pm. Tickets $80-$140.  canberratheatrecentre.com.au or 6275 2700.

Ako Kondo and Chengwu Guo, seen here in The Australian Ballet's <i>Sleeping Beauty</i>,  are two of the dancers in the Gala.

Ako Kondo and Chengwu Guo, seen here in The Australian Ballet's Sleeping Beauty, are two of the dancers in the Gala.Credit:Jeff Busby

A newly established, Canberra-based organisation, Bravissimo Productions, is firmly committed to bringing more ballet to Canberra audiences. To that end it is about to host 10 internationally renowned dancers for a major, Canberra-only event, The World Superstars of Ballet Gala.

The dancers come from Cuba, the United States, Italy, and Australia and have danced across the world in companies in Russia, England, Hong Kong, Austria, the United States, Cuba, and Korea. They will be joined, in a diverse program of short works, by selected young dancers from vocational dance programs in New South Wales and the ACT.

Speaking of its vision for the event, Bravissimo Productions explained: “We are thrilled to be hosting 10 fabulous dancers in what will be a unique experience for Canberrans. The mission and vision of Bravissimo Productions’ World Superstars of Ballet Gala is to bring some of today’s most celebrated professional dancers to Canberra and to give the best students in the ACT and greater NSW a chance to share the stage with these stars.”

Australian Ballet principals dancing in the gala are Ako Kondo and Chengwu Guo. They will perform two pas de deux, the first from David McAllister’s recent production of The Sleeping Beauty and the second from Le Corsaire.

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Chinese-born Guo, who starred in the film Mao’s Last Dancer as the young Li Cunxin, is a master technician and there is no doubt that he will perform brilliantly in Le Corsaire, a favourite ballet of Rudolf Nureyev who performed it in Australia when he visited in the 1960s. Kondo, who was born in Japan, received an Australian Dance Award last year for an outstanding performance as Swanilda in Coppélia. She will dance with Guo in both pas deux bringing her special charm to each of the roles.

Another dancer who is looking forward to appearing in the gala is Joy Womack who left her native California at the age of 15 and completed her ballet training at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy. She then joined the Bolshoi Ballet with a soloist’s contract. But she left the Bolshoi, upset somewhat by the difficulties she encountered there, and joined Moscow’s Kremlin Ballet where she was a principal artist. Now she dances as a principal with Universal Ballet in Korea. In the gala she will perform The Dying Swan and a pas de deux from Romeo and Juliet partnered by Italian dancer Francesco Daniele Costa.

Womack says, “I’m so excited to be participating in this gala because I know how much Zara [Bartley] and Daniel [Convery] of Bravissimo Productions believe in Canberra and the potential for it to be a destination for artists. Seeing their passion and their vision for this project inspired me.

Adiarys Almeida Santana, seen here as Kitri in <i>Don Quixote'</i>, is one of the soloists. 

Adiarys Almeida Santana, seen here as Kitri in Don Quixote', is one of the soloists. 

“I’m looking forward to dancing The Dying Swan. It has a long history as a piece of choreography that, as a whole, is able to showcase a ballerina’s artistry. Made famous by Anna Pavlova, it was performed all over the world. For a dancer it’s an honour to be part of this tradition.”

Also taking a starring role will be Cuban-born dancer Adiarys Almeida, who will dance a pas de deux from La Bayadère. She will be partnered by fellow Cuban Taras Domitro.

Almeida trained at the Cuban National Ballet School in Havana and danced initially with the National Ballet of Cuba. But she eventually left Cuba to enjoy the freedom of the United States and danced with Cincinnati Ballet and Boston Ballet before taking on a freelance career as an international guest artist. In that role she has danced in other cities in the United States and around the world including in Puerto Rico, Japan, Romania and Slovenia. She is also something of an entrepreneur and has started her own dance wear business.

Other guest artists are Joseph Gatti from United Ballet Theatre, Florida, and Cuban-born Venus Villa, along with two young dancers who have featured on American television, Avery Gay from So You Think You Can Dance and other shows and Tristan Ianiero from Dancing with the Stars. Gay and Ianiero will perform a contemporary pas de deux.

Students appearing in the gala from the ACT and NSW include Ky Trotter and Elizabeth Croker from Canberra’s National Capital Ballet School. Both took part in a summer intensive ballet course in Moscow earlier this year and as a result were offered places in the Bolshoi Ballet Academy. Croker will leave for Moscow shortly after the gala and Trotter is waiting for his visa to be approved and will follow a little later.

It seems there will be something to please every ballet aficionado in this gala and, as Joy Womack says, “We hope the audiences in Canberra enjoy the range of performers and pieces presented.”