Abu Dhabi: They twirled, leaped and pirouetted across the stage in flashes of grace and colour.
Forty-eight students, aged five to 18, from the Fantasia Ballet Centre under the guidance of their teacher, Ballet Master Svetlana Al Neyadi staged a night to remember.
It was to help raise awareness and funds for the 'Donate a Brick' campaign for Children with Special Needs in Abu Dhabi at the National Theatre recently.
"We started staging these performances in 2006. All the children know about Donate a Brick and we're excited to do this for them. They also had a lot of fun when they visited the children with special needs, which was very cute," Svetlana said.
"We wanted to give them something artistic, from the heart to give them some happiness," she added.
Entitled Let's Change the World for the Better, the evening saw the ballerinas perform a wide variety of sketches, from the simple Smile in the Rain, which had young ballerinas, dressed in adorable costumes that matched their colourful umbrellas perform a simple choreographed dance, to the more complex Classical Variations that the advanced students performed with a breathless fluidity that they seemed to be floating across the stage.
For Catherine Al Neyadi, who performed along with her sister Alia, both Emirati, the night will always hold a special place in her memories. Five months ago, she had knee surgery but Catherine was adamant that she wanted to not only walk, but dance again. After two months, she began training again despite her mother's concerns.
"She's a sort of hero to me for coming back the way she did. When she started again, she started directly on the pointed shoes. I was worried but she told me that she felt better in pointed shoes than in normal ones," Svetlana said proudly.
Catherine performed in several pieces, including a solo entitled Leaves of Memory so delicately that the audience could see the emotions of the piece take physical form.
Alia, who was the first Emirati female ballet dancer when she debuted dancing on pointed toe six years ago at the age of nine, drew the audience in.
The intermediate students performed a wide range of dances, including light-hearted pieces such as Exam is Coming!, which poked fun at the stress students feel during exam time to the energetic Rock-N-Roll in City and also dances from various cultures, such as Sirtaki that had the audience clapping along enthusiastically.
One dance that received a standing ovation was Arabian Wind, which saw Catherine, Nadia Kotachova, Sharon Van Chie and Rawan Monostriri perform a dance that Svetlana created by fusing classical ballet with belly dancing.
She said the dance was everyone's favourite. She said while in her native Ukraine she was not exposed to other cultures and this gave her the opportunity.
As the curtain fell on an evening that was four months in the making all the effort proved to be worth it with a highly successful evening that reflected the talents and the passion of all who participated.