Danza Academy staged its bi-annual production A Whole New World in the magical setting of The Alameda Open Air Theatre from 3rd-6th July. Based on the traditional story of Aladdin the production involved over one hundred dancers, of all ages, who gave it their all and received standing ovations on the first and final night .
A Whole New World was the eighth dance spectacle that Producer Alfred Rumbo has staged with the Academy. Previous works include The Lion King ( 2004), Beauty and The Beast (2006), The Prince of Egypt ( 2008), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (2010), Pocahontas (2012), Joseph (2014) and Anastasia (2016). With choreographies by Anne Marie Gomez and Zulieka Green these productions have all been greatly acclaimed amongst Gibraltar’s dance audience.
All eight productions have been staged at the Alameda Open Air Theatre as is now a Danza tradition. All involved have learnt tremendously over the years and although working outdoors in the summer heat poses certain inconveniences the Academy and Alfred would not have it any other way. Over the years these productions have evolved into amazing theatre spectacles of excellent dancing, acting, lifts acrobatics, uplifting choreography, enchanting sets, colourful, glamorous costumes and excellent lighting. A Whole New World in all its splendor was a true rendition of this particular energetic, vibrant and highly professional style.
Three of the main characters in A Whole New World were played by charismatic, natural and able dancers. Their ample successful competition experience both locally and abroad brought a wealth of artistry to the show. Very well known in Gibraltar Aladdin was played by the impressive, physically strong Steven Pardo, Jasmine by the graceful Nicola Dewar and Jafar by the enchanting Nigel Usquieri. All three dancers in their late twenties and early thirties were a pleasure to see commanding the stage with gifted, master confidence. Among these seasoned characters was new comer to the stage Kieran Doherty who played Jasmine’s Father in a truly, natural manner. The remaining main characters, all child prodigy dancers, were extremely clever in their mature approach to dance. Aged between 11-13 years, they will no doubt have incredible stage futures. These young dancers are already multiple I.D.F. World Dance Champions, Capezio Dance Competition semi finalists, Cram finalists and Royal Ballet School audition finalists. Also holders of ‘Distinctions’ in all their Royal Academy of Dance Classical Ballet Examinations and Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing Modern Theatre Dance Exams. Impressively Gianella Ochello played Jafar’s Parrot, Anna Hernandez Abu, Searie Mc Glashan The Carpet, Charlise Buhagiar The Lamp and Gabrielle Mc Glashan The Genie. Among the rest of the talented cast Aladdin’s Friends, Anne-Marie Reading, Robyn Bugeja and Robyn Celecia must also be mentioned as must the remaining of the adult dancers and Jafar’s Evil Guards.
Danza Academy feels extremely proud of the performance of every individual dancer. Similarly the Academy is very proud of many past main characters who are currently in the professional dance and theatre scene. Simon Bolland Moses in The Prince of Egypt and The Evil Cardinal in the Hunchback, is currently working in the London Theatre Circuits, Pocahontas Janice Felices, Gibraltar’s first Classical Ballerina, will shortly be joining The Romanian National Ballet and Jonathan Lutwytche, Britain’s Got Talent semifinalist, is presently studying at Ballet Rambert and working professionally too, these only to name a few. Danza feels many more dancers will make it professionally and that it’s Productions gives students the most valuable performance experience and learning scenario.
“This year has been an extremely busy and fruitful year. Students were among semifinalists at the prestigious ‘Move it Capezio Dance Championships’, under the G.I.D.A. umbrella dancers became I.D.F. World Champions, on average Students took three exams from the prestigious Royal Academy of Dance Classical Ballet and the Modern Exams from The Imperial Society if Teachers of Dancing. Among our many challenges we allocated three weeks in our calendar to produce our production. Obviously everything was extremely well planned and time allocated very carefully to the pieces, as it would in a professional environment. Working solidly through weekends everyone did what they should and with experience, talent and commitment from all dancers involved,even the very young and the support from their families our production turned out just as we wanted and for this we feel truly blessed,” said Danza Director Anne Marie. ”Our students know well that the glamour and magic of the stage is created with sheer hard work and passion and somehow we all enjoy the pressure. As a teacher and choreographer I felt that everyone gave it their all and this was perceived by the appreciative audience who gave us the standing ovations on several nights,” she added.