June 2006 newsletter

We had a last minute change of guest at our May meeting. Alexandra Ansanelli, who was scheduled to talk, was required that evening for a stage call for Sleeping Beauty. Alexandra was very sorry to have to cancel and we are delighted that she has agreed to talk to us at our first meeting of next season, on Wednesday 30 August.

In her place, it was a great pleasure to welcome Johan Persson, ex-Principal dancer with The Royal Ballet. We are very grateful that Johan was able to come to speak to us at very short notice. We know some members who were not present will be very disappointed to have missed him, as Johan was a very popular member of the Company. Johan spoke of his career with the National Ballet of Canada, as well as The Royal Ballet, and went on to talk about his new career as a photographer. It was a fascinating evening.

At our June meeting, we welcomed Zoë Anderson, dance critic of the Independent. Zoë spoke about writing the history of the Company, The Royal Ballet 75 Years, which has recently been published. She also gave us some insight into being a dance critic. It was another enjoyable and different evening.

For members unable to attend meetings, a summary is made available on our website, www.balletassociation.co.uk once the report has been checked by the guest speaker. 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, but reports on Brian Maloney, the Clore Studio meeting and the Young Choreographers, from last season, have been posted recently.

Future meetings
There is a change of date for our last meeting of the season. It will now be on Monday 17 July. We apologise for the change. We are delighted to welcome as our guest, Principal dancer Leanne Benjamin. In the six years since Leanne last spoke to us, much has happened. She now has a son and has had a number of new works choreographed on her. A Principal with SWRB, London Festival Ballet and Deutsche Opera Ballet, before joining The Royal, Leanne has had a spectacular career. We know this will be a popular meeting. Therefore it will be open to members only. If at 7.15 there are still some seats available, it will be opened up to guests.

The first meeting of next season will be on Wednesday 30 August, when we welcome Alexandra Ansanelli.

Meetings, unless otherwise stated, begin at 7.30 p.m. and are held at the Swedenborg Hall, off Bloomsbury Way (nearest tube Holborn). Doors open at 6.30 p.m. Admission: Members £3, Concessionary Members £2, Guests £7. The Swedenborg Hall seats a maximum of 100 people, so turn up early to be sure of getting in.

Provisional dates for next season are: Wednesday 30 August, Wednesday 13 September, Wednesday 4 October, Thursday 16 November, Wednesday 6 December, Thursday 18 January, Thursday 22 February, Thursday 15 March, Wednesday 11 April, Wednesday 16 May, Thursday 14 June, Thursday 12 July. Please note these dates are provisional. They will be changed, if they clash with ballet events at the Opera House. There may be some additional dates added later.

Our AGM will be on Thursday 16 November in the Clore Studio. Our guest will be our Patron Monica Mason. There will be tickets for this meeting. Details will be in the August newsletter.

Annual Dinner 2006 - Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of The Royal Ballet
From the many messages we’ve received, it is clear that this year’s Annual Dinner was one of our most successful ever. It was certainly our largest. As always, we are extremely grateful to the dancers and other Company members for giving their time to be with us. This year’s dinner fell in the middle of the Sleeping Beauty performances and like the slips of cast changes we receive at the Opera House, we had to make some last minute table changes. Apologies to anyone this disappointed, but from the buzz of conversation and smiling faces there can’t have been many of you. The final list of those who attended was: Monica Mason, Jonathan and Maria Cope, Jay Jolley, Christopher Saunders, Wayne Eagling, Jeanetta Laurence, Anthony Russell-Roberts, Kevin O’Hare, Christopher Newton, Ursula Hageli, Leanne Benjamin, Mara Galeazzi, Johan Kobborg, Miyako Yoshida, Gary Avis, Elizabeth McGorian, Martin Harvey, Lauren Cuthbertson, Gemma Bond, Steven McRae, Ernst Meisner, Yuhui Choe, Zachary Faruque, Nathalie Harrison, Romany Pajdak and Jonathan Watkins.

As usual, we had photographs taken during the evening. These are available for members to purchase at £2 a copy (7”x5”). An album of these is available at meetings and some will be placed on our website.

During the evening, we marked Jonathan Cope’s retirement from dancing. He was presented with an I-pod Nano. He also marked the 75th and 80th anniversaries of two of our members, Violetta Hanington and Frances Cowen, by presenting them with small gifts from the Association.

Congratulations to our Founder President, David Drew, who received an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Congratulations also to Darcey Bussell, who received a CBE, and to Ashley Page, now Director of Scottish Ballet, who received an OBE.

Congratulations to Sarah Lamb, who was promoted to Principal, after her matinée performance of Sleeping Beauty.

Rather belatedly we are marking Jane Burn’s retirement from the Company. After she stopped dancing, Jane worked with the Education Department. This season she has been taking courses in pilates and fiction writing. On behalf of the Association, we have presented Jane with book tokens to support her writing course.

Envelopes for collections for presents for hose dancers who leave the Company are available at meetings.