July 2007 newsletter

AS THIS NEWSLETTER IS written, both companies are in the middle of well deserved holidays. The Royal Ballet completed a successful tour of Mexico and the United States, while Birmingham Royal Ballet finished their season in Salford following two mid-scale tours.

The Association finished its year with two very special meetings. At the beginning of June, we welcomed Robert Parker, who spoke of his career with Birmingham Royal Ballet and his plans for the future as an airline pilot. This was an enjoyable evening with many humorous stories, but also an emotional goodbye for many members to a favourite dancer. Then at the end of June, we were delighted to welcome The Royal Ballet’s Resident Choreographer Wayne McGregor. Wayne gave an animated account of his very varied career. Speaking of his choreography, his company - Random, his research into the brain……, he amazed members with how much he has achieved. He also gave us much insight into his role with the Royal Ballet. This was a fascinating 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.

Future meetings
Our first meeting of the new season will be on Thursday 30 August at the Swedenborg Hall. As is usual, at the start of the season, we welcome two of the younger members of the Royal Ballet, Leanne Cope and Paul Kay. Both joined the Company in 2003 from the Royal Ballet School. Leanne has danced the White Cat in Sleeping Beauty amongst other roles, while Paul’s roles have included Alain, Beggar Chief and Hans-Peter. As well as talking briefly about their careers, Leanne and Paul will speak about the recent tour to Mexico City, Guadalajara, Pueblo, San Antonio and Philadelphia.

There will be two meetings in September. At the first, on Thursday 13 September at the Swedenborg Hall, we are delighted to welcome Senior Ballet Stage Manager, Johanna Adams. Before joining the Opera House, Johanna worked with Peter Schaufuss at Festival Ballet and in Berlin. During the evening Johanna will give us an insight into her role, the staging of ballets at the Opera House and on tour. Anyone who has had the good fortune to watch a performance from the wings, will have been intrigued by what happens backstage. We can expect a fascinating evening.

On Thursday 20 September at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church we welcome Principal dancer, Laura Morera. It gives us enormous pleasure to welcome Laura so soon after her promotion. She needs no introduction to members. A popular guest at our annual dinners, she has delighted audiences as Tatiana, Kitri, Larisch, Gamzatti, Lescaut’s Mistress, Lise and Swanhilda, amongst many other roles. Born in Madrid, she studied there before joining the Royal Ballet School and, in 1995, the Company.

Meetings, unless otherwise stated, begin at 7.30 p.m. They are usually held at either the Swedenborg Hall or Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church. The two venues are a couple of hundred metres apart. Swedenborg Hall is in Barter Street, off Bloomsbury Way (nearest tube Holborn). It seats a maximum of 100 people, so turn up early to be sure of getting in. Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church is at the eastern end of Shaftesbury Avenue, opposite the Shaftesbury Theatre. From Covent Garden you walk up Endell Street and cross over Shaftesbury Avenue. The church is then on your left. (nearest tube Tottenham Court Road) This venue is larger and can accommodate our membership. Doors open at 6.30 p.m. Admission: Members £3, Concessionary Members £2, Guests £7.

Dates for the rest of the season will, as far as possible, be taken from the following: Thursday 4 October, Friday 2 November, Thursday 22 November, Thursday 29 November, Thursday 6 December, Wednesday 2 January, Wednesday 9 January, Friday 1 February, Wednesday 13 February, Thursday 14 February, Thursday 21 February, Friday 29 February, Thursday 6 March, Wednesday 26 March, Friday 4 April, Thursday 17 April, Thursday 24 April, Wednesday 30 April, Thursday 15 May, Friday 30 May, Thursday 5 June, Thursday 19 June, Thursday 3 July. W e will obviously not use all these dates, but feel it is better to give those we are considering to minimise occasions where we use a date where members have already booked something else. However, other dates may be needed to fit in with speakers’ commitments.

It is great sadness that we announce the death of Sonya Wright, wife of Sir Peter Wright. We have sent flowers to the funeral which was attended by the Chairman and Membership Secretary, representing the Association. We will also be making a donation to one of Sonya’s chosen charities. We have sent our love and condolences to Peter from all members of the Association. Our thoughts are with him at this sad time.

Promotions, etc.
To Principal from First Soloist – Alexandra Ansanelli, David Makhateli and Laura Morera; to First Soloist from Soloist – Bennet Gartside; to Soloist from First Artist – Kenta Kura and Iohna Loots; to First Artist from Artist – Tara-Brigitte Bhavnani, Emma Maguire, Kristen McNally, Ryoichi Hirano, Ludovic Ondiviela, Henry St. Clair, Jonathan Watkins and James Wilkie. We send our congratulations to all of them.

Joining The Royal Ballet are Claire Calvert, Kevin Emerton, Elsa Godard and Sergiy Polunin from The Royal Ballet School; Elizabeth Harrod – ex-Royal Ballet School and Norwegian Ballet and Melissa Hamilton – trained at Elmhurst School for Dance and privately with Masha Mukhamedov.

Louise Bennett joins the Company as Artistic Coordinator, replacing Philip Mosley, who has been appointed Artistic Administrator. Gary Avis becomes Assistant Ballet Master.

We will list BRB promotions in the next newsletter. However, leaving the Company are dancers Clara Blanco, Annie Carroll, Candice Fotheringham, Virginia de Gersigny, Maia Makhateli and Robert Parker. Callie Roberts, Yvette Knight, Christopher Rodgers Till from the RBS and Laura-Jane Gibson from Elmhurst School for Dance join as Artists and Natasha Oughtred from The Royal Ballet joins as a soloist. During last season Martin Harvey made some guest appearances with BRB on tour. He will be appearing as a Guest Principal during the coming season. Congratulations to Silvia Jimenez and Iain Mackay, who got married to each other this summer, and to Elisha Willis, who also got married.

Leaving presents
There was an emotional farewell to Darcey Bussell and Belinda Hatley on the last night of the London season of The Royal Ballet. The Association gave presents to both at the end of season cake cutting, the previous Saturday. We gave Darcey an iPod and Belinda a fountain pen. We also gave a cheque to Christopher Carr, who is retiring as Senior Ballet Master, towards a special cat basket. (As previously stated, Christopher will be back as Guest Principal Ballet Master). We gave wine to Natasha Oughtred and Vito Mazzeo, who also left.

Darcey writes: “Dear All at the Ballet Association. Thank you so much for thinking of me at this time. It is very hard and yet exciting. You sent such a generous gift and I am most grateful. Having great fun on the I-pod. Best wishes Darcey Bussell. Many thanks.”

Christopher writes: “Dear Friends. With the assistance of your very kind gift I have now arranged a Pet-Passport and carrier for my cat Thomas. He is a very pretty Birman who is now 13 years old and is going to live with me in a small Spanish Village nestled amongst orange groves near the sea. Many thanks for your kindness and support. Christopher and Thomas.”

Ballet Chronicles
The 2007 and fourth 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 2006/07 performances and provisional 2007/08 repertoire. Itineraries have also been brought up to date.

There have been a considerable number of further improvements since the last edition of this book. It now includes designers and first casts throughout for the two companies and the indices for each company and the school are now of all works performed. Accordingly it is now possible to search the season by season list manually by using the index as well as automatically by using the built in computer search facility.

In addition to the usual download of the complete volume, there is now a “read on-line” version which uses only internet browser software and avoids the need to download what is a very large file.
The book is available for downloading from the Author’s website www.sylphide.demon.co.uk

All sale proceeds continue to be paid to The Royal Ballet School White Lodge Re-development Appeal.

Annual Dinner 2007
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.

It is the time of year when we ask you to renew your membership. Please return the attached 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. If you joined after the start of May, your membership covers this coming season.

We ended this season with 470 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. This included the Annual Dinner. For this reason, next year’s dinner will be for members only. If you usually bring a guest, you will have to encourage them to become members.