Ipswich dancer's curtain call with star

IPSWICH-born ballet dancer Gary Avis will take a curtain call with Darcey Bussell tonight as she gives her farewell performance with the Royal Ballet.

IPSWICH-born ballet dancer Gary Avis will take a curtain call with Darcey Bussell tonight as she gives her farewell performance with the Royal Ballet.

Song of the Earth is a highlight of his remarkable career which has taken him from the corps of the Co-op Juniors to centre stage at Covent Garden.

Mr Avis is playing the leading male role with Darcey and the Cuban star Carlos Acosta, and Darcey's Friday swansong is likely to be an emotional occasion at the opera house.

Mr Avis, principal character artist with the Royal Ballet, has danced with her on many occasions none are likely to be more memorable than this.

Dancing with Darcey will be one of the defining moments of the 37-year-old's Royal Ballet career.

He said: "Song of the Earth is an incredibly demanding piece and the timing is split second. The great thing about working with Darcey is that we have a very similar mindset - we are both very focused and perfectionists but don't take ourselves too seriously and laugh a lot along the way.

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"Many friends and family have come to see shows at the Opera House over the years, but I do hope everyone who knows me in Ipswich will be able to watch the live performance on TV this Friday. I like to think that there will be lots of people I know in the viewing audience."

Mr Avis's Ipswich dance teacher, Linda Shipton will be watching from a seat at the Royal Opera House . He said: “Linda was an inspirational teacher and continues to nurture talented young dancers - despite the awful difficulties she has encountered trying to find suitable new premises for her dance studios in Ipswich. I am just one of many of Linda's pupils who have gone on to successful careers in dance and I am thrilled she will be there on Friday.”

There are currently three former Linda Shipton pupils in the Royal Ballet Company, Gary, Helen Crawford and Liam Scarlett.

Darcey, currently the only British-born principal ballerina in the Royal Ballet, is stepping down following a 20-year career with the company.

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Darcey Bussell's Farewell: Live from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden on BBC2 today at 9pm includes an interview with Gary.

n. Do you have a story to tell? Contact The Evening Star news desk on 01473 324788 or email starnews@eveningstar.co.uk

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