January 2009 newsletter

Happy New Year. We hope you all had a good festive season with lots of Nutcrackers.

Since our last newsletter we have had two meetings. After our AGM, at the end of November, we were delighted to welcome Marianela Nuñez as our guest. Marianela spoke about the last four years of her career and the variety of roles she has danced, including Juliet with her partner, Thiago Soares, and working with Wayne McGregor on Infra. She gave a very thoughtful analysis of the way her interpretations of roles have developed as she has gained in experience.

We finished 2008, with an extremely enjoyable meeting with our Founder President, David Drew. As well as keeping us up to date with his many ventures since he retired from The Royal Ballet, David talked about new choreography, including the impact of Norman Morrice on young choreographers. David rounded off an entertaining evening with a long and hysterically funny impression of the choreographer, Nijinska. In thanking David, our membership secretary, Joan Seaman, informed newer members of the vital role David had played in the early days of the Association. Without his unstinting support, we would not exist today.

For members unable to attend meetings, a summary is made available on this 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, please send a stamped, addressed envelope to Joan Seaman, our membership secretary, at 56 Turney Road, London SE21 8LU.

Future meetings
There are two meetings in January. For our first meeting of the New Year, on Wednesday 14 January, we are delighted to welcome two of the most refreshing young talents of the Company, Melissa Hamilton and Sergei Polunin. Born in Belfast, Melissa trained at The Jennifer Bullick School of Ballet, before joining Elmhurst Ballet School at the age of 16, where she was taught by Masha Mukhamedo. When the Muhamedovs left Elmhurst, Melissa continued her training with Masha in Greece. She won the Youth America Grand Prix in 2007 and joined The Royal Ballet later that year. She was chosen by Michael Corder to dance a role this season in L’invitation au voyage and by Wayne McGregor to create a role in Infra. Sergei was born in the Ukraine. He joined The Royal Ballet School in 2003, aged 13. In 2006, he won the Prix de Lausanne and the Youth America Grand Prix and an award at the Sixth Lifar International Ballet Competition. The following year he was named Young British Dancer of the Year, before joining The Royal Ballet. He was promoted to Soloist this season and has danced, amongst many roles, the Bronze Idol and in Dances at a Gathering. This Christmas he danced both male lead roles in The Nutcracker and has his debut as Solor in La Bayadère later in January. We can expect a very interesting evening.

Our second meeting is on Friday 23 January, when we are delighted to welcome Gailene Stock, Director of The Royal Ballet School, as our guest. Gailene last spoke to the Association in 2001. She spoke then about her career with Australian Ballet and the Australian Ballet School, as well as her plans for The Royal Ballet School. Since then, there have been many developments at the school which we know members will be interested to hear about. We are very pleased to announce that Gailene will be bringing with her, Shiori Kase and Tristan Dyer, the recipients of the first Annual Ballet Association Awards. Both are in their graduate year at the school. Shiori is 16 and trained at the Hirose Kato Ballet Studio in Japan. Tristan is 18 and has UK, American and Australian citizenship. He trained at the Newport Academy of Ballet (US), National Ballet School of Canada and Australian Ballet School before joining the Royal Ballet School. We can expect a fascinating meeting.

At our first meeting in February (on the 18th), we are very pleased to welcome Barry Wordsworth, Music Director of the Royal Ballet, as our guest. Barry needs little introduction. He has an extensive symphonic career. He was appointed Conductor Laureate of the BBC Concert Orchestra in 2006, having been Principal Conductor with them since 1989. He is also Principal Conductor of the Brighton PO and frequent guest conductor with many other orchestras. He was Music Director of BRB from 1990 to 2008 and of The Royal Ballet from 1990 to 1995 and was re-appointed to this role in 2006. He has recently conducted performances with Tokyo Ballet, Leipzig Ballet and Paris Opera Ballet. We can expect a fascinating evening learning about the conducting of ballet. Please note that this meeting will start at 7.45 not 7.30. There is a concert in the church from 6.00, so please do not arrive before 7.00. If you wish to attend the concert first, you will be very welcome. Please ask at the Church for details.

Meetings, unless otherwise stated, begin at 7.30 p.m. and are held in the Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church which 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. The nearest tube is Tottenham Court Road. Doors open at 6.30 p.m.

Dates for next season
These will probably include Wednesday 25 February, Friday 6 March, Tuesday 10 March, Friday 17 April, Friday 8 May, Wednesday 20 May, Wednesday 17 June, Wednesday 15 July. Please check meeting dates carefully as they sometimes change to avoid clashes with other events.

Congratulations, etc.
Congratulations to Kevin O’Hare who is to become Administrative Director of The Royal Ballet in March following the retirement of Anthony Russell-Roberts.

Artist Dianne Gray left BRB at the beginning of December and has joined Northern Ballet Theatre.

Cast changes
A large number of cast changes have been announced by the Royal Ballet, particularly for La Bayadere and Giselle. Please check the Opera House website for details, as there are too many to list fully. They include (new casting only):

La Bayadère – Jan 13 Rojo, Acosta, Nunez; Jan 16, 24 Azzoni, Putrov, Morera; Jan 21, 26, 29 Marquez, Kobborg, Ansanelli.
Giselle – April 23, May 22 Galeazzi, Putrov; April 13, 30 Marquez, Soares; April 14, 28 Rojo, Pennefather.

Annual General Meeting
At our AGM at the end of November, the current committee were re-elected. We had one of nominee to join the committee, Christopher Scott. It was agreed to co-opt Christopher to the committee. At the first committee meeting the Chairman and Deputy Chairman were re-elected. The new committee is David Bain ( Chairman and Organising Secretary), Sylvia Tyler (Deputy Chairman), Joan Seaman (Membership Secretary), Melanie Shipton (Treasurer), Liz Bouttell (Reporting Secretary), Rachel Holland, Geoffrey Griffiths, Belinda Taylor, Brian Don and Christopher Scott.

Annual Dinner 2009
We are now able to confirm that our Annual Dinner, celebrating the 35th Anniversary of the Association, will be on Tuesday 5th May. Once again, it will take place at the Rubens Hotel in Buckingham Palace Road. Dinner is at 8 p.m. A private bar is available from 7 p.m. We apologise for a larger than usual increase in the cost of the dinner. The hotel increased the price by over £5 last year, but as we booked before they had changed to new menus, they allowed us to pay the previous year’s prices. We have decided to stagger the increase and so have raised the price by £3 this year to £35.

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. Consequently, this year’s dinner will be open to members only. If there are still vacancies at the end of April, we will open it up to members’ guests at this stage. 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.

Please print out and complete the linked form and send it with your cheque and a stamped addressed envelope to Melanie Shipton, The Ballet Association, 7 Dutch Gardens, Kingston, Surrey, KT2 7TT. Please note, if you fail to send a stamped addressed envelope you may lose your place if we are over-subscribed.

PDF CLICK HERE for the dinner application form (PDF format).

David Bain (Chairman)