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Graziano Di Prima – Believe: My Life On Stage

I doubt there was anyone expecting dancer and choreographer extraordinaire Graziano Di Prima to tell his life story by sitting down and reading extracts from a memoir. So instead, there’s plenty of highly impressive dancing, with some storytelling in between to allow both audience and cast to catch their breath.
Graziano Di Prima - Believe: My Life On Stage
Giada Lini, Di Prima’s wife, has a pivotal role in the show (as co-star and associate choreographer) and the story it tells, and while it is no surprise that life on the road has its challenges, Di Prima had an acute sense of heartache when contractual arrangements meant he was going to spend a significant amount of time apart from the person he felt destined to marry. It was, it felt to me, a reminder to the audience to cherish the most important things in life.

His is not a story that involves overcoming the obstacle of an unsupportive family, even if his father wouldn’t (or, perhaps, couldn’t) pay for endless dancing lessons without some form of economic contribution from Di Prima. His mother is his biggest fan – she sat near me in the audience at the performance I attended and sobbed her heart out throughout: Di Prima paid tribute to her at a post-curtain call speech.

The still and moving images (Ben M Rogers) of Sicily that periodically made their appearance seemed to be particularly triggering for her: Di Prima is very much someone who, whatever the successes are in his life, likes to come back home. His professional dance commitments (and global pandemics) don’t necessarily mean the Italian proverb, “Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi” (roughly, ‘Christmas with your family, Easter (and the rest of the year) with whoever you want’) is literally maintained every year, but he goes back as often as he can.

Eight dancers accompany Di Prima and Lini, playing multiple characters along the way, including other participants in local and national dance competitions when Di Prima was even younger than he is now (29 at the time of writing). Much of the storytelling is voiced by Di Prima himself, through recorded audio with accompanying videos. Okay, it’s not ‘live’, but with the sheer energy put into the dances, who wants to hear someone tell their story while trying to get their breath back?

He doesn’t win absolutely everything, though being in the lineup of the 2014/15 Italian television talent show ‘Amici’ seemed to lead to other things, including a world tour of the dance show ‘Burn the Floor’, which gave this production good reason to include a highly diverse set of musical styles to signify different places which were memorable for Di Prima. The inclusion of the South Korean rap song ‘Gangnam Style’ was indicative, portrayed as it was, of how Di Prima learned to embrace songs and dance styles that took him out of his comfort zone.

What probably drew a significant number of people to this show, however, is Di Prima’s appearances on BBC Television’s ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ – and there was, eventually, a flavour, live on stage, of what they’d already seen on the small screen. The costumes (Cassandra Lyons) are suitably colourful, even if the vibrant and dynamic choreography (Ardunio Bertoncello) left little opportunity to look at them properly.

It’s clear Di Prima loves to dance, and his fanbase loves to see him dance. He already has significant teaching experience behind him, too, and this is the sort of show that just might inspire some future dance sensations, just like watching the film Billy Elliot inspired Di Prima back in the day. A passionate and enthusiastic experience.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Believe – My Life On Stage, Graziano’s first solo tour, tells his story in his distinct style. This new show is a tribute to his Italian ancestors and an electrifying evening of Latin and Ballroom dancing. Including a special thank you to a family who never wavered in their belief that their son would one day be a professional dancer. Experience Graziano’s life story today.

Cast & Creatives
Producer – Paul Morrissey Ltd
Writer and Director – Paul Morrissey
Music by – Richard Vanrynne
Choreographed by – Arduino Bertoncello and Giada Lini
Set, Lighting and Video Designer – Ben M. Rogers
Starring – Graziano Di Prima

Full Company:
Maurizio Benenato*
Adam Brunyee
Elisa Brunetti+
Jasmine Chan
Grace Cinque-White
Giada Lini
Leonardo Lini+
Luke Miller
Julia Ruiz Fernández

* Maurizio Benenato – 3rd March 2024 – 12th March 2024
+ Elisa Brunetti & Leonardo Lini – 13th March 2024 – 13th April 2024

GRAZIANO DI PRIMA – BELIEVE: MY LIFE ON STAGE
Saturday 30th March | 2:30pm or 7:30pm
Peacock Theatre – Portugal Street, London WC2A 2HT

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