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November/December 2010 newsletter

AT OUR NOVEMBER MEETING we were delighted to welcome one of our Presidents Christopher Saunders, Ballet Master and Principal Character Artist, as our guest. After giving us a brief account of his early career, Christopher spoke about the development of his current roles in the Company. He provided us with a very entertaining evening including many amusing anecdotes.
For members unable to attend meetings, a summary is made available here on our website once the report has been checked by the guest speaker.

Future meetings
At our next two meetings, either side of the holiday period, we welcome two of the Royal Ballet’s most popular principals. On Wednesday 8 December we are delighted to welcome Steven McRae. Steven spoke to the Association almost four years ago, having joined The Royal Ballet in 2004 after one year in The Royal Ballet School. He was promoted to Principal at the start of last season and has danced a wide repertoire including Lensky, Theme and Variations and the Prince in Cinderella so far this season. He has recently announced his engagement. We can expect an interesting evening.

At the start of the New Year, on Friday 7 January we are privileged to welcome Tamara Rojo.  A regular guest of the Association, Tamara always provides a fascinating evening for members. She last spoke early in 2008, since when much has happened including her participation in Dance East’s Rural Retreat for Future Leadership of Dance which led to her time in Canada shadowing Karen Kain, Artistic Director of the National Ballet of Canada, and time with Cirque du Soleil. She has also created works with Kim Brandstrup and Liam Scarlett, as well as choreographing a piece for the programme of New Works. In addition she has continued to guest around the world alongside her Royal Ballet schedule.

At our second meeting of the month on Tuesday 25 January we have an all Australian evening when we welcome Gary Norman, Senior Ballet Teacher at The Royal Ballet School, who will be accompanied by the winners of the Association’s 2010 RBS Awards, Claudia Dean and Lachlan Monaghan. Gary Norman joined the Australian Ballet in 1970 and was promoted to principal after two years, dancing al the leading roles in the classical repertoire and creating roles in ballets such as Glen Tetley’s Gemini. Other roles include Oberon, Romeo, Onegin and Vronsky in Prokovsky’s Anna Karenina. He also danced as a principal at the National Ballet of Canada and Winnipeg Ballet. After dancing, he taught at the Victorian College of the Arts and the Australian School of Ballet and was for two years principal ballet master with Australian Ballet, before joining The Royal Ballet School.  Claudia is in her final year at the School and featured strongly in last summer’s school performances, whilst Lachlan, who is now in his second year, was recently awarded a bronze medal at the Genée Awards.

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 Wednesday 16 February, Wednesday 30 March, Thursday 14 April, Wednesday 11 May, Friday 3 June. Please note that the meeting originally scheduled on Wednesday 18 May has been cancelled as it clashes with a Royal Ballet event. Some other dates may change if they clash with Royal Ballet events and others may be added, so please check each newsletter.

If you haven’t already returned your membership renewal form this will be the last newsletter you receive.  Those who have not renewed will be removed from our database by the end of December. Forms should be returned to Membership Secretary Sylvia Tyler at Flat 7, 19/24 Wynyatt Stret, London, EC1V 7HY. Please remember to enclose a stamped addressed envelope.

Congratulations, etc
The following from The Royal and BRB have been nominated by the Critics’ Circle for the National Dance Awards: Steven McRae and Sergei Polunin for Best Male Dancer; Alina Cojocaru and Marianela Nunez for Best Female Dancer; Kim Brandstrup and Liam Scarlett for Best Classical Choreography; Akane Takade for Outstandng Female Performance (Classical) and Iain Mackay and Tom Whitehead for Outstanding Male Performance (Classical).

Congratulations to Steven McRae and Elizabeth Harrod on their engagement.

The Royal Ballet has announced four performances of Romeo and Juliet at the O2 Arena on 17, 18 and 19 June with ticket prices from £10-£60. There is also a schools’ matinee on 17th. Ticket sales from 5 December.   

Visits to the Diaghilev Exhibition at the V & A and to the White Lodge Museum
We had two very successful visits in November. Our visit to the Diaghilev Exhibition was attended by 27 members. Jane Pritchard, Curator of the Exhibition, was a fountain of wisdom and insight and spent over an hour and a half taking members around and answering questions. A Sunday visit to White Lodge was attended by 30 members. Members had a very comprehensive and interesting tour of the School before visiting the Museum and were at White Lodge for around three hours. Anna Meadmore, who looks after the Museum, was a particularly helpful and informative guide. We are very grateful to both Jane and Anna for the time they gave the Association and to committee member, Annette Fraser, who very successfully organised the visits. If members have other ideas for visits which the Association could organise these should be given to any member of the committee. 

2011 Visit to Elmhurst School for Dance and Birmingham Royal Ballet – 22-23 June
As announced in the October newsletter, we have arranged another visit to Elmhurst School for Dance and BRB. The programme will include watching BRB class, an interview of a BRB dancer, a performance of Allegri Diversi and Carmina Burana and a day at Elmhurst hosted by our President Desmond Kelly.

The overall cost will be £24 performance ticket, £42 hotel room if needed (twin bedded- so £21 each if two of you are sharing) and £15 to cover donations to BRB, etc. You will need to arrange your own transport to Birmingham. Very cheap train or coach fares can be obtained if booked well in advance.

If you are interested in attending, please complete the application form and send it with a non-returnable deposit of £15 and stamped addressed envelope to Brian Don, BA Committee, 5 Weirdale Avenue, London, N20 0AN. Applications will close on 15 December.

Visit to The Royal Ballet Upper School – 9 February 2011, 9.15am
We have arranged a visit to the Upper School to watch two classes which we hope will include our 2010 RBS Award winners, Claudia Dean and Lachlan Monaghan. Trying to find a convenient date has been difficult as Claudia is involved in the graduate tour of New York and we thought it best to arrange a date after the students have spoken at our meeting in January. All being well, we will observe Claudia in her classical class from 9.30am until 11am, followed by Lachlan in his classical class from 11.15am until 12.45pm. However, there is always the possibility that one of them may not be there for one reason or another.

Please arrive by 9.15am. The cost of the visit will be £12.50 for members and £15 for your guests. If you would like to attend, please send your name and address and the name of any guest you are bringing along with a cheque made payable to The Ballet Association to the Chairman, David Bain, at the address below. Places will be allocated on a first come, first serve basis up to a maximum of 100. All monies collected will be donated to The Royal Ballet School to provide additional funds for students.   

Annual Dinner 2011
Apologies for the late announcement of the date of the dinner. We hope to announce it at our December meeting and will place it on our website a.s.a.p. An application form will be in the next newsletter in January.

CHAIRMAN: David Bain, 23 Capstan Square, Stewart Street, London E14 3EU  Tel: 020 7515 1254