May 2008 newsletter

WE HAD TWO MEETINGS meetings during April. At the first, Jeanetta Laurence gave us a very interesting evening, where she talked about her career and her current role as Assistant Director of The Royal Ballet. She gave us a fascinating insight into day to day life behind the scenes of the Company. Our second meeting of the month saw a last minute change of speaker. Thiago Soares, who was scheduled to talk, and Marianela Nunez travelled to Tokyo to publicise the Company’s forthcoming tour. We are extremely grateful to Tamara Rojo, who agreed to talk to us at a day’s notice. Tamara last talked to us a year ago, so the evening concentrated on discussion of Tamara’s very busy last twelve months, including dancing with the Kirov in St Petersburg, with Julio Bocca in Argentina and with the National Balet of China. She also talked about her upcoming role in Strictly Gershwin at the Albert Hall with English National Ballet. Members were fascinated by her discussion of differences in her interpretation of roles, such as Mary Vetsera, with different partners and her views on new choreography.

Future meetings
On Friday 30 May, at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, we are very pleased to welcome a rescheduled meeting with Principal, Thiago Soares, as our guest. Thiago last spoke to us in December 2003, long before his promotion to Principal in 2006. Born in Brazil, Thiago trained at the Centre for Dance, Rio de Janeiro, and joined the Rio de Janeiro municipal Ballet in 1998. Although Thiago has danced Romeo in Brazil, he makes his London debut in the role next month. His roles have included Onegin, Siegfried, Orion, Solor and many others. He was named Outstanding Male Artist (Classical) at the Critics’ Circle Dance Awards in 2004. We can expect an entertaining evening.

On Thursday 5 June, again at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, we are delighted to welcome Liam Scarlett as our guest. An artist with the Royal Ballet, Liam is best known for his choreographic work. Whilst at school he won many choreographic prizes. Since joining the Company, he has had works performed in First Drafts and has just had a work danced in the Linbury season. He choreographed a pas de deux for Roberta Marquez and Ivan Putrov to perform in a gala in Paris at the start of this season. This was also danced by Ballet Black, for whom he has also choreographed two new works. We look forward to an interesting discussion of the choreographic process to complement that we had with Wayne McGregor at the end of last season.

As the Company are away and there is much ballet in London, it has been decided to cancel the meeting scheduled for Thursday 19 July. Our last meeting for the season will be on Thursday 17 July when we hope to have a very special guest.

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: Members £3, Concessionary Members £2, Guests £7.

Dates for next season
We are beginning to plan dates for next season. Those for the start of the season are likely to be: Wednesday 27 August, Wednesday 10 September, Wednesday 24 September, Friday 10 October. Further dates will be announced in the next newsletter.

Annual Dinner 2008
Once again, we had an extremely successful annual dinner with nearly 180 members and guests present. As always, we are extremely grateful to the dancers and other Company members for giving their time to be with us. We had to make one or two table changes at the last moment because of illness, injury or other commitments. This meant a few of you were further from a dancer than we had planned, or had a change of guest on your table. Apologies to anyone this disappointed, but from the buzz of conversation and smiling faces there can’t have been many of you. We are especially grateful to those dancers, from the corps, who attended at very short notice. From feedback, it is clear they delighted those on their tables. During the evening we presented bouquets to our Patron, Monica Mason and Denise Kelly, wife of one of Presidents. This year’s dinner was a very special occasion, which marked the retirement of our President, Desmond Kelly, after 38 years with the Royal Ballet Companies. Members were delighted to hear that Desmond has been appointed Artistic Director of Elmhurst Ballet School. We will be presenting Desmond with a picture by Peter Farmer from his designs from Sir Peter Wright’s Giselle.

During the evening we raffled three framed photographs taken backstage by Joshua Tuifua. We are extremely grateful to Joshua for donating the pictures which raised around £300 for his chosen charity ‘Children With Aids Charity.’

The final list of those who attended was: Monica Mason, Jeanetta Laurence, Anthony Russell-Roberts, David and June Drew, Desmond and Denise Kelly, Lady Deborah MacMillan, Marion Tait, David Morse, Wayne McGregor, Barry Wordsworth, Alina Cojocaru, Martin Harvey, Brian Maloney, Johannes Stepanek, Joshua Tuifua, Helen Crawford, Laura McCulloch, Kristen McNally, Celisa Diuana, Sabina Westcombe, Claire Calvert, Xander Parish, Demelza Parish, Kevin Emerton, Elsa Godard, Melissa Hamilton.

As usual, we had photographs taken during the evening. 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 be placed on our website.

We are delighted to announce that Marion Tait has agreed to become a President of the Association, continuing our links with Birmingham Royal Ballet. Desmond Kelly announced this at our annual dinner and Marion has since written, saying ‘It is a great honour.’ Following discussions during the dinner, members will be pleased to hear the Desmond has agreed to remain as a President of the Association, representing Elmhurst School, the school now linked to BRB.

A Gala Evening to Celebrate the Career of Desmond Kelly, 28 June 2008
After 38 years with the Royal Ballet Companies, Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Assistant Director, Desmond Kelly, retires this summer. Guest Artists so far confirmed include former BRB Principals Robert Parker, Joseph Cipolla and Miyako Yoshida.

Gold, Silver and Bronze ticket packages are available and standard tickets are also now on sale. This fundraising gala evening is an amazing opportunity to celebrate his career.

Packages are as follows:
Bronze package (£60): Top-price ticket to the show, souvenir programme and complimentary glass of wine.
Silver package (£100): All of the above plus a pre-performance reception with Desmond Kelly.
Gold package (£200): All of the above plus a post-performance dinner with the entire Company.
For more information and booking details contact Pauline Sleigh on 0121 245 3546 or visit to download the booking form. Standard Ticket prices are: £44.50 - £15. Contact Hippodrome Box Office on 0870 730 1234, or check on-line:

Please note: Transaction fees apply except for cash sales at the counter and on certain concessionary rates. All details from Box Office.