December 2005 newsletter

SINCE OUR LAST NEWSLETTER we have had three great meetings. After our AGM in November, we welcomed Alina Cojocaru as our guest. Alina delighted everyone with a thoughtful analysis of her career since she last spoke in 2001. This was a very special meeting. Not only was it the largest attendance we have had for a meeting, but it also marked our first use of the Royal Ballet School. We are especially grateful to Rachel Hollings, PA to the Directors, and to the Royal Ballet School students who helped make the evening run smoothly. We had a slight problem at the start of the evening with raffle prizes, which resulted in one winner failing to receive a prize. If that was you, or you know who it was, could you contact the Chairman; we have a special prize for you.

Five days later, we had our second meeting in November. We were delighted to welcome Roberto Bolle as our guest. This meeting was organised as an extra event, taking advantage of Roberto's extended stay in London to dance Sylvia as well as Manon. We know members were charmed by his humour and descriptions of life as a guest artist. We are very grateful to Federico Bonelli, who attended as an interpreter, although he was only needed for one word all evening!

At our December meeting, we welcomed Vanessa Palmer, soloist and assistant ballet mistress. She provided an entertaining start to the festive season.

I hope you agree that we finished the year in great style with three meetings in a three week period and with such interesting guests.

For members unable to attend meetings, a summary is made available on both our own website, and on, once the report has been checked by the guest speaker. Reports are also posted, one month after they have appeared on our own site, on If you do not have access to the internet, and would like a copy of a report on any meeting, please send a stamped addressed envelope to Joan Seaman, our membership secretary, at 56 Turney Road, London SE21 8LU. If you do not have access to the internet, and would like a copy of a report on any meeting, please send a stamped addressed envelope to Joan Seaman, our membership secretary, at 56 Turney Road, London SE21 8LU. As always, we are not up to date with reports. We hope to be so soon!

Future meetings
As we finished the year in style, we hope to start the year in the same manner. At our first meeting of the New Year on Thursday 12 January we welcome two of the most exciting young dancers in the Company, Yuhui Choe and Celisa Diuana. Both won apprenticeships to the Royal Ballet from the Prix de Lausanne. Yuhui was born in Japan. She trained there with Daini Kudo and in Paris with Dominique Khalfouni. In 2000, she won the Silver Medal at the Paris International Dance Competition and, in 2002, first prize and the Contemporary Dance prize at the Prix de Lausanne. She became an apprentice to the Royal Ballet in 2002 and joined as a Artist in 2003. Early in her time in the Company she was chosen to dance Princess Florine and the Fairy of Purity in The Sleeping Beauty. Celisa was born in Brazil and trained at the Maria Olenwa State Dance School in Rio de Janeiro. She won a scholarship to the Vaganova Academy in St Petersburg, where in 2002 she danced Aurora in Act III of The Sleeping Beauty in the School's annual performance. She won first prize at the CBDD Competition in Rio in 2000 and at the Prix de Lausanne in 2003. She joined the Royal Ballet as an apprentice that year and became a member of the Company in September 2004. She was seen as First Sylph in La Sylphide earlier this season. We can look forward to a very interesting meeting getting to know more about two dancers to watch out for in the future.

Our next meeting will be on Wednesday 22 February. The guest has yet to be confirmed and will be announced in the next newsletter. Meetings begin at 7.30 p.m. and, unless otherwise stated, are held at the Swedenborg Hall, off Bloomsbury Way (nearest tube Holborn). Doors open at 6.45 p.m. Admission: Members £3, Concessionary Members £2, Guests £7.

We have two very special meetings planned for March. On Wednesday 1 March our meeting will be held in The Clore Studio at The Royal Opera House. It will be a practical session, where we will welcome some of the young choreographers from the Company, who will be working on pieces for First Drafts later in March. We will confirm the names of the choreographers and dancers involved in the next newsletter. Because the meeting is in The Clore Studio, it will have to be ticketed and will be slightly more expensive than usual (Members £4, Concessionary members £3, Guests £8). Tickets will be available for purchase in advance at the January and February meetings. Members who cannot attend those meetings will be able to purchase tickets in advance from the Chairman (Please phone David to arrange this.)

On Wednesday 22 March our meeting will be at the Royal Ballet School. We welcome Jonathan Cope as our guest at this meeting. Jonathan dances his last performances with the Company in The Firebird in February and we felt it appropriate to mark the end of his career as a Principal and the beginning of his career as Repetiteur. Details of how to book for this meeting will be in the next newsletter.

Provisional dates for the rest of next season are: Thursday 6 April, Wednesday 10 May, Wednesday 14 June and Thursday 13 July. Please note that these dates are subject to change, if they clash with Company events. The Annual Dinner will be on Wednesday 24 May. A booking form will be included with the next newsletter.

Annual General Meeting
At our AGM the current committee was re-elected:- David Bain (Organising Secretary), Kenneth Leadbeater (Reporting Secretary), Joan Seaman (Membership Secretary), Melanie Shipton (Treasurer), Sylvia Tyler, Geoffrey Griffiths, Liz Bouttell, Rachel Holland, and Belinda Taylor. The Chairman and Deputy-Chairman will be elected at the next committee meeting in January. A copy of the Chairman's report is enclosed with this newsletter. It was agreed at the meeting that as an Association we should become Anniversary Supporters of the Royal Ballet and donate £2,500 for each of the next two seasons towards new works.

If you haven't renewed your membership, this will be your last newsletter. Our membership has already reached 400 this season, so most of you have already renewed!

Members will have heard that Darcey Bussell is to become a Principal Guest Artist from the start of next season and that William Tuckett became a guest artist at the start of this season. If you would like to contribute to presents to mark their leaving the Company, please send donations to Joan Seaman. There will be collection boxes at the next few meetings.

Venus Villa joined the Royal Ballet in November as an Artist. Born in Cuba, she studied at Alicia Alonso's school from 1996. In 2000, she went to Italy to study at La Scala for four years. In January, Alexandra Ansanelli joins as a First Soloist. She has danced with New York City Ballet since 1996, when she was 16, and became a Principal in 2003. This week, Fernando Rodriguez Montano also joins as an Artist. Born in Columbia, he trained in Cuba, before joining the Cuban National Ballet in 2004.