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  • Writer's picturePARLIAMENT NEWS

A Night to Remember: The Ballet Icons Gala at the London Coliseum

Updated: Mar 21

In the heart of London, as spring heralds new beginnings, the London Coliseum flung open its grand doors on the 17th of March, 2024, for the much-anticipated Ballet Icons Gala. An event that has perennially etched its name in the annals of dance, the Gala, under the aegis of the distinguished Ballet Icons Gala Founder & CEO Olga Balakleets, unfolded as an illustrious homage to the timeless and evolving narratives of ballet.

With heartfelt messages from Lord Parkinson, Minister for Arts and Heritage, and the Rt Hon Sir John Whittingdale OBE MP, the gala was steeped in a spirit of unity and anticipation. The profound Graham Watts OBE, a critic par excellence, prefigured an evening that promised a journey through ballet’s golden age to its contemporary frontier.

The performances of the evening were a constellation of ballet’s brightest stars. "Grand Pas Classique", with the impeccable Fumi Kaneko and Vadim Muntagirov, set a virtuosic tone. Francesca Hayward and Herman Cornejo wove a poignant narrative in "Like Water for Chocolate", while António Casalinho and Margarita Fernandes lent "La Esmeralda" an air of heritage and grace.

Innovation echoed through the Coliseum with "Two Pieces for HET" performed by Riho Sakamoto and Constantine Allen, juxtaposing the contemporary with the classical. The pièce de résistance of the evening was "The Thinker", a UK première, where Sergio Bernal's evocative choreography and dance met with roaring applause.

As the evening progressed, the audience was enraptured by the harmonious blend of Mendelssohn’s melodies and balletic innovation in "Renaissance", with Bleuenn Battistoni and Julian MacKay at the helm. The emotive "Mercy Duet" from "IMAGO" and the swashbuckling "Le Corsaire" were performances that captivated and commanded the stage, courtesy of incredible dancers Travis Clausen-Knight, James Pett, Evelina Godunova, and Motomi Kiyota.

The luminescent "Diamonds" from "Jewels", interpreted by Olga Smirnova and Vadim Muntagirov, glimmered with the elegance of Tchaikovsky's score and Balanchine's choreography. "The Qualia" by the talented Yasmine Naghdi and Reece Clarke, and the classic drama of "Swan Lake (Black Swan pas de deux)", was exquisitely delivered by Skylar Brandt and Herman Cornejo, leaving the audience spellbound.

"Caravaggio", a visual feast by Melissa Hamilton and Roberto Bolle, was one of the most outstanding performances of the night. "Remembrance" from "Lost Letters", a UK première by the poignant duo Lucía Lacarra and Matthew Golding, and "The Taming of the Shrew", spiritedly portrayed by Camila Bocca and Osiel Gouneo, showcased the dramatic flair of the gala.

The evening's odyssey continued with "Proximity or Closeness", a UK première that wove an intricate narrative of nearness through dance with power and pose interpreted by superb dancers Eleonora Abbagnato and Sergio Bernal. "In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated" shattered convention with its bold choreography, impeccably executed by Sangeun Lee and Gareth Haw.

Natalia Osipova and Giorgi Potskhishvili's interpretation of "Don Quixote" was the final piece, a display of virtuosity that encapsulated the exuberance of the entire gala.

The Ballet Icons Gala was the collective triumph of artistic talents, directed by their CEO and Founder Olga Balakleets and her team including Mariana Gomes acting as a Global Artist Manager, Alastair Ingram - Project Manager, Paul Godfrey - Technical Director, Alexandra Shchelkonogova - Marketing and PR Executive. The creative pulse of the event resonated through the contributions of individuals Rafael Porzycki, and Adam Tripp, ensuring a night of seamless grandeur.

The post-performance festivities continued at the Corinthian hotel, where VIP guests and celebrities mingled amidst acts and a fashion showcase by Kolchagov Barba. The illustrious assembly of guests included HRH Princess Katarina, Lady Colin Campbell, luminaries such as Nadiya Bychkova, Karen Millen OBE, Kai Widdrington, Vanessa Bauer, socialites, and business entrepreneurs like Lana Saliot, Elvijs Plugis, Lara Accison, Laura Timm, Ozwald Boateng, Stephen Webster, Wayne Sleep, Kevin O’Hara, Aud Jebsen, Emilio Barba, and Sveto Kolchagov, among others.

The Ballet Icons Gala transcended being a mere event; it was a celebration of ballet's enduring splendor and a unifying soirée of the art form's aficionados and novitiates alike. This night at the London Coliseum will be remembered as a rendezvous of grace, passion, and timeless beauty that will resonate in the hearts of its witnesses for years to come.

For those yearning to relive the spectacle or delve deeper into the allure of ballet, information and details can be discovered by reaching out to

Photos by Jack Devant


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