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August 2010 newsletter

AT OUR LAST MEETING of the season, we were delighted to welcome First Artist Vanessa Fenton, who gave us a very entertaining account of her career. Always a favourite with members, Vanessa spoke of her training, her time in Marseille with Roland Petit and her degree in English, as well as her experiences in the Royal Ballet. She also gave us an insight into the choreographic process, with particular reference to her most recent work, One Shade the More, which many present had seen during the Linbury season. Members expressed sadness at the news that Vanessa is leaving during next season, but look forward to seeing more of her choreography in the future, wherever she works.

Future meetings
At our first meeting of the new season, on Thursday 26 August, we are very pleased to welcome Soloist Kristen McNally as our guest. Kristen last talked to the Association as one of three young dancers soon after she joined the Company in 2002. Born in Liverpool, she trained with Elizabeth Hill before joining the Royal Ballet Upper School. She was promoted to Soloist in 2009. Her repertory includes M in Carmen, Carabosse in Sleeping Beauty, Anna II in Seven Deadly Sins, Empress Elizabeth in Mayerling, and the Pianist in The Lesson. She has choreographed works for the Clore and the Linbury, including As One in 2009 and Don’t Hate the Player, Hate the Game this summer. We can expect a very entertaining evening.

At the start of each season, we always have a meeting where two of the younger members of the Company talk about the end of season tour as well as their careers so far. This is always very popular. This year we are delighted to welcome Artists Leticia Stock and Benjamin Ella as our guests at our meeting on Wednesday 8 September. They both joined the Company in 2009 from the Royal Ballet Upper School. Leticia started ballet in Brazil and Benjamin in the Australian Conservatoire in Melbourne. Benjamin danced the Corsaire pas de deux with Shiori Kase, both in the school performances and at the Dance Circle Awards in 2009, but was injured before the start of last season, returning for performances in the Linbury and the tour, whilst Leticia performed across the Royal’s repertoire including Wayne MacGregor’s Limen. We can expect a fascinating evening hearing about the tour to Japan and Barcelona.

Our guest for the second meeting in September on Friday 24th has yet to be confirmed. Details will be in the next newsletter in the middle of September. Please note that the AGM will be on Monday 11 October.

Meetings, unless otherwise stated, begin at 7.30 p.m. and are at 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, if you face East. (nearest tube Tottenham Court Road). Doors open at 6.30 p.m. unless otherwise stated. Entrance is £4 for members, £3 for concessions, £8 for guests.  

The provisional dates for the rest of the season are Friday 24 September, Monday 11 October, Thursday 18 November, Wednesday 8 December, Friday 7 January, Friday 21 January, Wednesday 2 February, Wednesday 16 February, Friday 4 March, Wednesday 30 March, Thursday 14 April, Wednesday 27 April, Wednesday 11 May, Wednesday 18 May, Friday 3 June. Some of these dates may change if they clash with other Royal Ballet events.

Comings, Goings, etc
Since the last newsletter, it has been announced that Ivan Putrov has left the Royal Ballet. We know that this will be met with sadness by members and feel honoured that one of his last appearances with the Company was his attendance at our Annual Dinner. We wish him a successful future and will inform you of his choice of present when known.

Ernst Meisner, who left before the tour, wrote thanking us for the cheque we gave him. “There will be many memories from my time at The Royal Ballet. It is however for each dancer, the audience and especially the fans that mean so much and I am very grateful for all your support in all those years. I have been thinking what would be a nice way to spend the money you gave me. I would like to buy something that I will keep but also use. For a very long time I have been wanting to buy a small video camera that I could use while doing choreography. With my ballet for English National Ballet School I am really missing not having a video camera. So I would like to use the money to buy a camera. It will be something that will come in very practical use immediately for choreographic projects. Once again that you very much.”

There was an error in the last newsletter, Guillaume Cȏte is appearing as a guest principal and is not joining the Royal Ballet. In addition to those announced as joining in the last newsletter - Nehemiah Kish, Itziar Menizabal, Valentino Zucchetti, Yasmine Naghdi, Sander Blommaert, and James Butcher – Camille Bracher from Johanessburg, South Africa and Beatriz Stix-Brunell from School of American Ballet join as Artists. The Royal Ballet has announced that Sergei Polunin has been promoted to Principal, Johannes Stepanek to First Soloist, Melissa Hamilton to Soloist and Claire Calvert, Akane Takada, Fernando Montaño and Erico Montes to First Artist. We congratulate them all.   

At the Royal Ballet School Graduation Ceremony, after the school performance in the Royal Opera House, Chairman David Bain presented the Ballet Association’s Annual Awards to this year’s recipients, Claudia Dean and Lachlan Monaghan.  Both from Australia, they enter their graduate year this autumn. Claudia was particularly prominent in the School’s Matinee dancing in Fractals and the lead in the Third Movement of Concerto. Our awards of £500 each are made to overseas students to help with their studies. We hope to invite both to meet members at a meeting later in the year. Director Gailene Stock wrote offering "sincere thanks to all at the Ballet Association for the ongoing support of the training of our young dancers." Speaking of this year’s recipients, she wrote: "As well as being talented, they are both delightful young people and will be most appreciative of the support these prizes so generously provide." At graduation, I was able to congratulate last year’s recipients Imogen Chapman and Angela Wood on their performances. I know, like me, you will have been very impressed by them and look forward to following their professional careers.

Principal Iain Mackay rejoined BRB in March after two years dancing for Angel Corella in Spain. William Bracewell joins as Artist from the Royal Ballet School in August and Lewis Turner will join as an Artist (Prix de Lausanne Laureate). Momoko Hirata is promoted to First Soloist, Steven Monteith to Soloist and Mathias Dingman to First Artist. First Soloist James Grundy has left to teach at Elmhurst School for Dance. Valentin Olovyannikov and his fiancée Laura, Victoria Marr and her fiancée Lee, and Laëtitia Lo Sardo and Toby Norman-Wright all get married this summer. Congratulations to all of them and to Artist Laura Purkiss and her husband Chris on the birth of their daughter Daisy Jaye. Unfortunately there is as yet no UK release date for the film Mao’s Last Dancer starring Principal Chi Cao but it has been released in Canada, Israel, Netherlands, and from this month in Japan and USA. It is released in Germany and Spain later in the year.

We were very sad to hear of the death of one of our earliest members, Janet Harris. Nearly 80, Janet regularly made the trip from Oxford to London for performances. She was taken ill whilst cycling near her home. She will be greatly missed by those of us who knew her. 

Elmhurst Visit
In June, 31 members took part in a very successful trip to Birmingham to visit Elmhurst School for Dance organised by committee members Belinda Taylor and Brian Don on behalf of the Association. Thanks to BRB Friends’ Coordinator, Sheila Hitchman, on the first day we watched Ballet Master Wolfgang Stollwitzer take men’s class and before the evening performance of On Their Toes, which included Theme and Variations, Grosse Fugue and Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, David Bain interviewed Soloist Momoko Hirata.

The following day was spent at Elmhurst. Our President, Desmond Kelly’s warm welcome set the tone for our whole time there. As well as touring the building and watching classes and rehearsals, we were entertained to lunch and met teachers and students. These included the first recipient of our Elmhurst Ballet Association Award of £500 towards his studies, which was presented to Year 7 student Ricardo Castellanos from Spain. Ricardo’s grandmother and father were principals of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, his father being a role model for Carlos Acosta, who is now a Vice President of Elmhurst. We made small donations to BRB and Elmhurst to thank them for their hospitality and have received letters of thanks from BRB’s Communications Director Keith Longmore, Elmhurst Principal Elaine Brook and Artistic Director Desmond Kelly. Elaine wrote to say that our donation will be put towards a new video camera and said "I do hope that we can make today’s event an annual one."

Desmond wrote:

Dear Ballet Association, I felt that I had to write to you all and say that we at Elmhurst enjoyed your visit to the School immensely. One usually looks forward to a large crowd coming to the school rather like a visit to the dentist but on this occasion it was a real pleasure. Your interest was inspiring and your obvious enjoyment of the day palpable. Thank you for contributing to a happy day and again a huge thank you for the Ballet Association award.
Kind regards, Desmond.

Most of you, who receive the newsletter by email, appear to have received the June/July letter without a problem. Hopefully I have sorted my internet problems. As indicated in the last newsletter, I am using for Ballet Association correspondence. My other two addresses should be used for personal mail.

Annual Dinner 2010
As usual, we had photographs taken of the guests on each table, during the evening. These will be available for members to purchase at a future meeting and some will be placed on our website.  Anyone who took additional photos which they would like to share should email them as attachments to the Chairman on either address below.

It is the time of year when we ask you to renew your membership. Please print and return the renewal form to Sylvia Tyler, Acting Membership Secretary, 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. If you currently receive your newsletters by post but have an email address, please consider receiving them by e-mail in future. E-mail has the advantage of ensuring that you are not subject to the vagaries of our postal system and that you receive your newsletters as soon as they have been written. It also helps The Ballet Association save money on postage.

We have been asked whether it is possible to pay membership by electronic transfer rather than cheque. If you would prefer to pay this way, please indicate on the form and Sylvia will get in touch with you with bank details.

CHAIRMAN: David Bain
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