September 2006 newsletter

AT OUR FIRST MEETING of the season, we were delighted to welcome Alexandra Ansanelli as our guest. Alexandra spoke about her career at New York City Ballet, which she joined before she was 16. She spoke about an injury that kept her out for over two years, about her decision to leave New York and about how eventually she came to join The Royal Ballet. She spoke about works that had been choreographed on her, including being Jerome Robbins last muse. We are sure all present will follow her career with interest.

For members unable to attend meetings, a summary is made available on our website, 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 the report on Johan Persson has been posted recently.

Future meetings
Our second meeting of the season will be on Wednesday 13 September. In recent years, we have welcomed younger members of the Company to the September meetings to talk about the summer tour, as well as their careers. These meetings have proved very popular. This year we are very pleased to welcome artists, Tara-Brigitte Bhavnani and Jonathan Watkins. Tara was born in Canada and trained in Toronto and Paris, winning the Erik Bruhn Memorial Award. She joined The Royal Ballet in 2002. Jonathan was born in Barnsley and trained at The Royal Ballet School. He joined the Company in 2003. Both have danced in new works and Jonathan has choreographed regularly for First Drafts. As well as their careers, they will talk about the Summer Tour to Boston, Washington, Spain and Turkey.

At our October meeting, on Wednesday 4 October, we continue our celebration of The Royal Ballet’s 75th Anniversary with a very special guest, Dame Beryl Grey. Beryl needs no introduction, being one of those whose name is synonymous with British Ballet. Making her debut with the Company when fourteen, she danced her first Odette/Odile in 1942, aged fifteen. Beryl will speak of her career, including her time at the Bolshoi and as Director of London Festival Ballet, as well as speaking about her involvement with the companies in recent years. We know this will be a popular meeting. Unfortunately, we have been unable to book a larger venue for this date, so we would advise early arrival. This meeting will be for members only.

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.

Our AGM will be on Thursday 16 November in The Clore Studio. Our guest will be our Patron Monica Mason. The AGM will start at 6.45 p.m., followed by Monica at 7.30. There will be tickets for this meeting. Please note that they will be £1 more than usual (Members £4, Concessionary Members £3, Guests £8). To book a place at this meeting, please ring our membership secretary, Joan Seaman, 020 8670 4671. Booking will open on Wednesday 13 September from 9.00 – 17.00. Please do not phone or write to Joan before that date, as any requests to reserve a place any earlier will be refused. (If you are out of the country, please get someone to phone for you). You can collect and pay for your tickets at the September and October meetings or on the night. We expect this meeting to sell out quickly and so, initially, it will be restricted to members. If there are spaces on the day, they will be open for guests.

Provisional dates for the rest of next season are: Friday 15 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. NB The date of the December meeting is different from that originally given.

Annual Dinner 2006 - Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of The Royal Ballet
Photographs taken during the Annual Dinner 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.

The Royal Ballet has announced that Principal, Jaimie Tapper,has retired from the Company in order to spend more time with her young family. Emily Low has also left The Royal Ballet to study stage management in New York. We wish both of them success for the future. Kristen McNally has been granted leave of absence to work with the Cathy Marston Poject until the end of October.

Congratulations to Lauren Cuthbertson who has won the Silver Medal at the 2006 Varna International Ballet Competition. This was the highest award to any female dancer at this year’s competition. She danced six classical and two modern variations, including Will Tuckett’s Nisi Dominus for which he was awarded a choreographic prize.

Ballet Chronicles
The 2006 and third edition of this invaluable reference work is now available and includes the full repertoire of The Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and The Royal Ballet School from their inceptions to date performed both at home and abroad. It has been updated for this new edition by including the 2005/2006 performances and provisional 2006/07 repertoire. Itineraries have also been brought up to date.

There have been a number of further improvements since the second edition of this book. It now includes composers and itineraries within the detailed season by season lists of repertoire for each company and the schedule of composers and première dates has been replaced by a complete index for each company of all full length and one act ballets, which also incorporates the première dates. Accordingly it is now possible to search the season by season lists of repertoire manually by using the index and also automatically using the built in computer search facility.

The Book is available for downloading from the Author's web site All sale proceeds are paid to The Royal Ballet School White Lodge Redevelopment Appeal.

It is the time of year when we ask you to renew your membership. Please return the renewal form to Joan Seaman, as soon as possible, but not later than the end of October. There has been no rise to membership fees this year. Concessionary members should indicate which concession applies. This information will help us in analysing the profile of our membership.

We ended this season with 460 members. This is a significant increase from the previous year. Whilst wonderful news, it does mean that sometimes some members will not be able to get into some events. For this we apologise.

Ballet Russes
At the end of this newsletter we include details of the Ballet Russes DVD. We hope to have copies of the Ballet Russes DVD as raffle prizes at our October meeting thanks to Revolver Entertainment.

After enjoying phenomenal success at the cinema Revolver Entertainment presents Ballets Russes on DVD! Adored, admired and loved, BALLETS RUSSES follows over 50 years in the lives of a group of revolutionary artists that transformed ballet across the globe...

Guardian: “Riveting” ****
The Times: “Remarkable” ****
Marie Claire: “Exceptionally beautiful” ****
Empire: “One of the finest documentaries ever made” ****
Directed with consummate invention and infused with juicy anecdotal interviews from many of the company’s glamorous stars, BALLETS RUSSES treats modern audiences to a rare glimpse of the singularly remarkable merger of Russian, American, European, and Latin American dancers, choreographers, composers, and designers that transformed the face of ballet for generations to come.

Unearthing a treasure trove of archival footage, Emmy Award winning filmmakers Dayna Goldfine and Dan Geller map the company’s Diaghilev-era beginnings in turn-of-the-century Paris when artists such as Dame Alicia Markova, Frederic Franklin, Nijinsky, Balanchine, Picasso, Miro, Matisse and Stravinsky united in an unparalleled collaboration. Rare performances, home movies, letters and diaries are intercut with intimate interviews with former BALLETS RUSSES stars which bring to life the extraordinary journey of the company and the individuals who danced in it. where ego, politics, war, money, fame, glamour, love, betrayal and grace blended with dance.

The film culminates with the first and only BALLETS RUSSES Reunion Celebration, which was held in 2000 in New Orleans. Bringing together nearly 100 surviving dancers, most of whom had not seen each other in more than fifty years.

DVD Extras: The DVD extras include additional archive footage and extended interviews with the Ballet Russe. The details of the extras are as follows;

Dancer Beginnings - Interviews with; Frederic Franklin, Alicia Markova, George Zoritch, Maria Tallchief and Alan Howard

Ballets Russes Collaborators - Archive footage of and interviews with; Stravinsky, Michel Fokine, George Ballanchine, Leonide Massine, Nijinska and Richard Rogers

Behind The Velvet Curtain/After The Curtain Comes Down - Mia Slavenska and Nina Theilade on George Zoritch ; Tania Riabouchinska and Irina Baronova - the last reunion ; Irina Baranova elopes; Nina Theilade and Irina Baronova on Mia Slavenska; Mia Slavenska on falling in love with Marc Platt; Dancer Stage Preparations [Freddie Franklin and Alicia Markova]

Inside The Rehearsal Studio - George Zoritch and Nathalie Krassovska and the Bloshoi Ballet in Fokine’s Spectre de la Rose; Freddie Franklin as the Friar [Romeo and Juliet]; Alicia Markova coaching at London’s Studio Centre; Alan Howard coaching for the Les Ballets Trocadero; Nathalie Krassovska - life after the Ballets Russes; Miguel Terekhov with young dancers at the New Orleans Reunion

Easter Egg - Wakefield Poole on “Neiman Marcus of Gay Porn”; Yvonne Craig on Batgirl

Extra Archival Footage - Swan Lake [Maria Tallchief, Frederic Franklin]; The Red Poppy [Frederic Franklin]; Don Q [Mia Slavenska]; Giselle [Alicia Alonso and Igor Youskevitch]; Raymonda [Nathalie Krassovska]

Photo gallery of over 200 images
Running Time: 118 minutes
Certificate: PG
Price: £19.99