January 2007 newsletter

HAPPY NEW YEAR. We hope everyone had a good Christmas and New Year with an ample diet of Nutcrackers!

Our guest at our last meeting of 2006 was Principal dancer, Johan Kobborg, who talked about his productions of La Sylphide and Napoli Divertissements. He gave us many insights into staging productions as well as talking about his current injury and some of his plans for the future. Once again we packed the Swedenborg Hall, but fortunately did not have to turn anyone away, although we were totally full. Members heeded our advice and turned up early.

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.

Future meetings
Our next meeting is on Thursday 18 January at the Swedenborg Hall. We are delighted to welcome soloist Steven McRae as our guest. We had invited Steven earlier in the season but the date coincided with the arrival of his parents from Australia, so we are pleased that he is able to start off our new year of meetings. Steven has made an enormous impact since joining the Company in 2004. Born in Sydney, he won a scholarship to the Royal Ballet School from the Prix de Lausanne in 2003. He was promoted to soloist in 2006. He has created roles in Homage to the Queen, Three Songs – Two Voices and Chroma as well as dancing soloist roles in Giselle, Nutcracker, La Sylphide and Manon. We know this will be a popular meeting and suggest you arrive early to avoid being disappointed. The meeting will be restricted to members only up to 7.15pm. If there are still seats at that time, we will open the meeting to guests.

As announced at the AGM we are holding some meetings at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church this year. This is a larger venue which will comfortably seat our membership. Our first meeting there will be on Thursday 8 February. (Please note that this is a change of date, as our original date clashed with an Insight evening.) Our guest on that evening will be Principal Character Artist, Gary Avis. Born in Ipswich, Gary joined The Royal Ballet in 1989 and was promoted to Soloist in 1995. In 1999 he left to co-found K Ballet in Japan, then joined English National Ballet in 2002. He rejoined the Royal in 2004 and was promoted to Principal Character Artist the following year. His repertoire is enormous and has recently seen him dancing Madge in La Sylphide as well as creating one of the pas de deux in Christopher Wheeldon’s DGV (Danse à grande vitesse). We know members will be delighted to welcome him back to the Association.

Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church is at the eastern end of Shaftesbury Avenue, opposite the Shaftesbury Theatre. It is about 150 metres from the Swedenborg Hall. From Covent Garden you walk up Endell Street and cross over Shaftesbury Avenue. The church is then on your left. As the church has other meetings, please do not arrive before 6.30.

Provisional dates for the rest of next season are: Thursday 15 March, Friday 23 March, Wednesday 11 April, Thursday 10 May, Wednesday 16 May, Thursday 14 June, Thursday 12 July. Please note there are two additional dates. All these dates are provisional. They will be changed, if they clash with ballet events at the Opera House.

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.

Association Officers
At our first committee meeting, David Bain was re-elected as Chairman and Sylvia Tyler was elected as Deputy- Chairman.

Members will be delighted to hear that Gemma Bond is marrying ex-Royal Ballet dancer, Matthew Dibble, during the mid-season break. You may also have heard that Marianela Nunez and Thiago Soares got engaged at the end of their last Sleeping Beauty, with Thiago proposing on stage in front of the Company. We send our congratulations to all of them.

Nominations for the National Dance Awards have been announced by the Critics’ Circle. Results will be announced on 25 January. From the Royal Ballet Companies they include:
Best Female Dancer – Alina Cojocaru, Sarah Lamb, Miyako Yoshida
Best Male Dancer – Carlos Acosta, Federico Bonelli, Johan Kobborg
Emerging Dancer Classical - Chi Cao, Steven McRae, Tyrone Singleton
Best Classical Repertoire – Birmingham Royal Ballet
Best Classical Choreography- Alastair Marriott for Tanglewood, William Tuckett for The Canterville Ghost.

Annual Dinner 2007
We are now able to confirm that our Annual Dinner will be on Wednesday 2nd May. Once again, it will take place at the Rubens Hotel in Buckingham Palace Road. Dinner is at 8.00pm. A private bar is available from 7.00pm. The dinner will cost £31.

Given the popularity of our dinner last season and our growing membership, we expect a very heavy demand for tickets, so early application is advised. Initially, this year’s dinner will be open to members only. If there are still vacancies by the end of March, we will open it up to members’ guests. (You may apply for a guest on the application form, but, if you do, please send two separate cheques and two stamped addressed envelopes.) There will be about 140 places for members and 35 for an exciting array of dancers of all ranks, Company management, etc. We will not be announcing the guest list until the April newsletter. You will then have an opportunity to let us know which dancers you would like to sit near.