|Mandev Sokhi and Krystal Lowe in Llandudno|
(c) Jane Elizabeth Lambert 2014
One of my favourite dancers was Mandev Sokhi. He danced with Ballet Cymru, one of my favourite companies. Last week I visited Ballet Cymru's rehearsal studios at Rogerstone with the London Ballet Circle and met him and his fellow dancers for the first time. Imagine my thrill at shaking his hand.
Earlier today I saw this notice on Ballet Cymru's website:
"It is with huge sadness that Ballet Cymru has to announce the sudden death of dancer and Education Officer, Mandev Sokhi. Our love, thoughts and prayers go out to Mandev’s family and his wife Iselin. If anybody, especially any of our Associates or anybody involved in our Education Programme needs any help or support during this difficult time please contact us or come in and see us."Memories of Mandev flooded back. Last week I saw him dance in the company class at the end of which Darius James invited each of the dancers to do his or her party piece. Mandev impressed us all with his turn. After class Mandev was one of the prince's friends in a rehearsal of Cinderella, a production that I had seen in Lincoln earlier this year (see Ballet Cymru's Cinderella 15 June 2015). Last year I photographed Mandev with Krystal Lowe at Llandudno in Stuck in the Mud (see an Explosion of Joy 21 Sept 2014).
However, I remember him best for his performance in the title role in Beauty and the Beast last year. Mel reviewed that show for this blog and this is what she wrote about him in For grown ups who haven't lost touch with their childhoods - Ballet Cymru's Beauty & The Beast 24 June 2014:
"A cacophony of noise announced the arrival of the Beast onto the stage, and it was a Beast unlike any I had ever seen before. Brilliantly brought to life by Mandev Sokhi (who managed to convey a sense of pathos despite his alien form), this creature was literally skin and bone. I applaud Ballet Cymru for creating a truly physically repellent character that was at times reminiscent of Max Shreck's Count Orlok and Harrison Birtwistle's Minotaur. Sokhi's Beast carried a great burden, shaking, stumbling and contorting his way across the stage during the introductory scenes before re-coiling into an insectoid like form when faced with the purity and honesty of Lydia Arnoux's Beauty. As a fellow dancer I couldn't help but admire Sokhi's stamina and dance talent when, after his unveiling as a handsome prince, he bounded into a serious of bravura steps and pas de deux. This was no mean feat after bending over double for 75% of the production, especially when partnering the petite Arnoux."It was a magnificent performance.
As I noted in Ballet Cymru at Home 5 Oct 2015 Ballet Cymru is still a small and tightly knit company. Almost a family. This will hit them hard. I offer my most sincere and deepest sympathies to everyone in the company, to all Mandev's other friends and acquaintances but, above all, to his wife (who is also a dancer) and family.