August 2008 newsletter

AT OUR LAST MEETING of the season, it was a pleasure to welcome Deborah Bull, Creative Director at the Royal Opera House. Deborah spoke of the many facets of her life since retiring from The Royal Ballet and the developments in ROH2 and other aspects of her current role. Members were intrigued to hear that she will be part of group of dancers performing in the handover ceremony at the end of the Beijing Olympics. Rather belatedly, we gave Deborah a present from the Association to mark her time with The Royal Ballet. She had chosen a Swarovski tiara - a real Swan Queen! Deborah gave us a very entertaining end to the season.

Future meetings
At our first meeting of next season on Wednesday 27 August at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church we will mark another retirement from the Company. This time it is a much more recent one. We are delighted to welcome Gillian Revie as our guest. Gilly retired as a permanent member of the Company at the end of this last season after an illustrious career in the Royal Ballet where she danced roles as diverse as Manon, Mistress, Anastasia, Mary Vetsera, Myrthe, the Nurse and Lead Harlot in Romeo and Juliet and a Lover in The Dream. Gilly joined the Company in 1988 and was promoted to First Soloist in 1998. Her final performances were as Carabosse in Japan. Since our last newsletter it has been announced that Gilly will become a Guest Principal Character Artist.

A popular feature of each season is a meeting to hear about the Royal Ballet’s summer tour. This gives members an opportunity to get to know two of the younger dancers in the Company. This year we are pleased to welcome Demelza Parish and Sabina Westcombe as our guests on Wednesday 10 September also at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church. Demelza and Sabina will speak about their careers and will then talk about the tour to China, Japan and Hong Kong. We look forward to a very entertaining meeting.

At our second meeting of the month, on Wednesday 24 September at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church we are delighted to welcome Soloist Iohna Loots. Iohna was born in Johannesburg. She finished her training at the Royal Ballet School before returning to South Africa in 1995 to join Cape Town City Ballet. She joined The Royal Ballet in 1999 and was promoted to Soloist in 2007. She has a varied repertoire including Clara, Princess Stephanie, Dora Penny, Effie and Hunca Munca, as well as creating the role in William Tuckett’s Wind in the Willows.

Meetings, unless otherwise stated, begin at 7.30 p.m. 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). Doors open at 6.30 p.m.

Admission and Raffle
The Committee has decided to raise the cost of admission from the start of this season to Members £4, Concessionary Members £3, Guests £8. This is the first increase for many years and now includes a ticket for the raffle. We are running short of raffle prizes. If you have any ballet books, videos or DVDs that you would like to donate to the raffle please contact Sylvia Tyler on 020 7837 4005 or bring them to a meeting.

Dates for next season
We are beginning to plan dates for next season. These will include Friday 10 October, Thursday 16 October, Thursday 6 November, Friday 28 November, Wednesday 10 December, Wednesday 14 January. Further dates will be announced later. Our AGM will probably be on Friday 28 November. Please check meeting dates carefully as they sometimes change to avoid clashes with other events.

Congratulations, etc.
As announced in our last newsletter, Lauren Cuthbertson and Rupert Pennefather were promoted to Principal on the final day of last season and Gillian Revie has become Guest Principal Character Artist. Other promotions are Yuhui Choe and Steven McRae to First Soloist, Helen Crawford, Laura McCulloch, Ryoichi Hirano, Paul Kay, Sergei Polunin and Eric Underwood to Soloist, Elizabeth Harrod, Romany Pajdak, Pietra Mello-Pitman and Liam Scarlett to First Artist. James Hay joins from The Royal Ballet School, as did Dawid Trzensimiech before the end of last season. Akane Takada joins as a Prix de Lausanne apprentice.

At a recent meeting, Martin Harvey indicated that he looking to make a career change. He has now left The Royal Ballet and will be joining the cast of Dirty Dancing from September. He will be greatly missed by his many fans - no doubt to be found loitering outside the stage door of the Aldwych Theatre from now on! We will be collecting for leaving presents for Martin and Gilly Revie at the next few meetings. Donations can be sent to Joan Seaman.

Birmingham Royal Ballet has also announced its promotions, etc. Aaron Robison is promoted to First Artist, Momoko Hirata to Soloist and Jamie Bond, Natasha Oughtred, Jenna Roberts and Lei Zhao to First Soloist. Wolfgang Stollwitzer rejoins the Company as a Ballet Master. César Morales from English National Ballet joins as a Principal; Nicki Moffatt and Dusty Button from the Royal Ballet School and Yijing Zhang from Hamburg Ballet School join as Artists. Congratulations also to Rachel Peppin and Robert Parker on the birth of daughter Olivia, Jonathan Payn and wife on birth of daughter Mathilda and Viktoria Walton and husband on birth of daughter Eloise.

Annual Dinner 2008
After this year’s Annual Dinner, our President, Desmond Kelly, wrote: “Thank you all so much for this year’s Dinner. It was the most wonderful evening. I am so chuffed to be continuing as one of the Presidents of the Association. You know how determined I am to cement the relationship between Elmhurst and BRB and this appointment helps enormously to link the two in the public mind. I am also pleased as punch that Marion will be there with me. Thank you again for all that you do to promote our love of this special art form.” Marion Tait also wrote to thank us for the evening and to accept the position of President. “It is a great honour for me.” At the Gala in his honour in Birmingham, Desmond received the Governors of the Royal Ballet Gold Medal in recognition of his work with the Royal Ballet Companies.

As usual, we had photographs taken during the Annual Dinner. These are available for members to purchase at 25p a copy (7”x5”). An album of these will be available at meetings and some will eventually be placed on our website.

Royal Ballet School
As announced in our last newsletter, the Association is making two annual awards of £500 each to two Upper School students. Following the School performance at the Royal Opera House, our Chairman, David Bain, presented this year’s Ballet Association Awards to Shiori Kase and Tristan Dyer at the student graduation ceremony. Gailene Stock, Director of The Royal Ballet School writes:

"We are most grateful for your generous support of the young dancers at the School and the tangible assistance your prize will give the recipients. As agreed, we will provide Shiori Kase and Tristan Dyer with £500 each towards their studies for the academic year 2008/2009. I hope you are happy with the choice of recipients following their sterling performances in both Napoli and the new McGregor work at the Royal Opera House. They have both had a very successful second year of study at The Royal Ballet School. Tristan was awarded the 2nd prize in the Young British Dancer of the Year and Shiori represented the School with aplomb at the Orange County gala alongside guest artists from American Ballet Theatre and San Francisco Ballet. I am sure the Ballet Association will enjoy following their progress next year. Our sincere thanks to the Ballet Association for its support of our young dancers and we look forward to our ongoing relationship."

The Royal Ballet Benevolent Fund
As you probably know, the Royal Ballet Benevolent Fund exists to help dancers and ex-dancers, including those of the Royal Ballet, in times of hardship. For several years now, they have been producing charity Christmas cards which are sold in outlets in London and the south east along with other charity cards. We have been asked if any members of the Association would be interested in being volunteers to sell cards this Christmas in London. The volunteers work for three hours a week whilst the shops are open, which is around eight weeks each year. They have cards in some theatres which volunteers may enjoy working in. Although volunteers can’t be paid, their travel expenses will be reimbursed and they may receive some cards as a “thank you.” If you are interested in being one of the volunteers, please contact the Chairman David Bain as soon as possible for further details.

It is with great sadness that we have to announce the death of Francesca Klaschka. A member of the Association for many years, Francesca designed and ran our website. She died on 19 July, a few days after her 36th birthday, having battled with cancer for eight years. Francesca was buried under some trees in a lovely natural burial site, part of a nature reserve on the South Downs in an area of outstanding natural beauty. Any members who knew Francesca and would like to make a donation to one of her chosen charities should contact the Chairman for details. We are very grateful to John Mallinson for agreeing to take on the running of our website.

The Wells Summer School Last Day
When Francesca Filpi talked to the Association last season she spoke about the summer school she runs each year, now at Sadler’s Wells. Francesca has kindly invited some members of the Ballet Association to watch the last day of the summer school on Friday 29 August . The day will consist of master-classes from from 10am, taught by Jonny Cope, Vanessa Palmer, Fedrico Bonelli, Hikaru Kobayashi, Richard Ramsey, Elizabeth McGorian, Jonathan Watkins, Gilly Revie, as well as Francesca and maybe some others. If you are interested in attending, please contact David Bain on 07855 823921 to reserve a place and receive further details. Places are limited and will be allocated fairly.

Autumn Rehearsals at Sadler’s Wells
Members of the Vic-Wells Association are invited to attend rehearsals at Sadler’s Wells. Here is a list of the possible open rehearsals for the coming season. These are subject to change.

Morphoses / The Wheeldon Company – 23/24 September
The Australian Ballet - 7 October
The Mariinsky Ballet Company – 13/15 October
Birmingham Royal Ballet – 28 October
Royal Ballet of Flanders – 6 November
Rambert – 14 November
Matthew Bourne’s Edward Scissorhands – 2 December

If you would like to attend any of these rehearsals you should join the Vic-Wells by contacting Richard Reavill on

Marianela Nunez at La Scala
Members looking for a Christmas holiday may be interested to know that Marianela Nunez will be dancing Gamzatti in La Bayadère in Milan on 17, 18, 20 December with Svetlana Zakharova and Roberto Bolle.

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.