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August 2011 newsletter

AT OUR FIRST MEETING of the new season, we were delighted to welcome Soloist Melissa Hamilton as our guest. Melissa gave us a fascinating insight into her career since she last spoke to us. During the summer, she had participated in the International Ballet Competitions in both Beijing and Seoul, winning the gold medal at the latter. She talked in detail about working on new choreography with Wayne McGregor and about her debuts in Agon and as Mary Vetsera. We all look forward to following the next stage of her career with her debuts as Juliet and the Sugar Plum Fairy later this season.

Future meetings
Our second meeting of the season, on Friday 2 September, is our annual opportunity to meet two of the Royal Ballet’s younger dancers. As well as hearing about their training and first year in the Company, they will speak about the performances in the O2 and the tour to Taiwan. This year we welcome Camille Bracher and Yasmine Naghdi as our guests. From Johannesburg in South Africa, Camille won the Outstanding Contemporary Award at the Youth America Grand Prix in 2007 when she was only 15. Two years later, she was awarded a second prize in the international competition in Helsinki. Yasmine, from London, was a JA from 2002, before joining the Royal Ballet School in 2004 and moving to the Upper School in 2008. During her time at the school she was selected to participate in an exchange with the Vaganova Ballet Academy in St Petersburg and in 2009 won the Young British Dancer of the Year competition. We can expect a very entertaining evening with these two young dancers, who have both made a great impression during their first season.

At our first meeting in October on Thursday 6 we are delighted to welcome our Patron Dame Monica Mason as our guest at the start of her final year as Director of The Royal Ballet. Always extremely popular with members, we have been very privileged to have Monica as our guest regularly throughout her time as Director. We look forward to hearing her talk about the planning of this season and looking back on her ten years as Director and more than half a century in the Company. We can expect a fascinating evening.

Our meeting on Friday 21 October will be preceded by our AGM at 6.45pm. Details of the AGM will be provided in the next newsletter. We always try to have a very special guest after the AGM. This year we are very pleased to welcome Principal Edward Watson. Ed joined the Company in 1994 and was promoted to Principal in 2005. He last spoke to us in 2006, so much has happened since including performances as Rudolf and Des Grieux. Ed has had an enormous number of roles choreographed on him, most notably by Ashley Page, Wayne McGregor, Christopher Wheeldon and Kim Brandstrup. At the start of this season he performs in the world premiere of Arthur Pita’s The Metamorphosis in the Linbury Theatre. Based on the story of Franz Kafka’s novella, Ed takes the lead role in a cast from a range of disciplines. We can expect a very interesting evening discussing Ed’s very varied career.

Provisional dates for the rest of next season are: Wednesday 2 November, Wednesday 16 November, Tuesday 6 or Friday 9 December, Wednesday 4 January, Friday 20 January, Thursday 26 January, Friday 3 February, Tuesday 7 February, Wednesday 29 February, Friday 9 March, Tuesday 20 March, Wednesday 4 April, Tuesday 17 April, Friday 27 April, Thursday 3 May, Thursday 17 May, Wednesday 30 May, Thursday 14 June, Thursday 28 June, Thursday 5 July, Thursday 12 July. We will not use all these dates as some will clash with Royal Ballet events. All dates are subject to change.

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 6.45 p.m. unless otherwise stated. Entrance is £4 for members, £3 for concessions, £8 for guests.

Ballet Association visit to Birmingham Royal Ballet and Elmhurst School for Dance
Since our last newsletter we have received letters from both David Bintley and Desmond Kelly. During the visit we made a donation to BRB and left a cheque for Desmond, his 'leaving BRB present.'

David writes:

I am writing to you as Chairman of the Ballet Association to thank you very much for your donation of £300. I do hope that you and your members had a good day with us and also with Elmhurst School for Dance. I’m sure that you will also have had a letter from Elmhurst, but would like to add to that my thanks for your donation also to the School and for your encouragement of a budding young dancer. Sheila (Hitchman) tells me that the Association very much enjoyed themselves and that you will be up at some point in the future to visit us again. I do hope so, as we very much value the interest of your august body.

Desmond writes:

I am so sorry that I was not in school when you paid your last visit. From all reports it was very successful and I hope you were all treated well. Thank you so much for Anastazia’s award – I hope you approved of my selection – and the extremely generous contribution to our ever depleting funds.

I have decided to use my wonderful 'leaving BRB' present from the Association to commission a ballet from Samira Saidi (our resident choreographer who has done some wonderful works for young dancers) for our next summer show. She is already listening to music and is sure to come up with something inspiring soon. The money will be used for costumes and whatever she needs. I will keep you posted.

Thank you again. You are a very special group of dance lovers.

The Director’s Appeal Birmingham Royal Ballet
Many of you will have received a letter from David Bintley asking for funds towards his new ballet Faster, Higher, Stronger. The Association has donated £450 towards this appeal for a ballet which David feels will be a fitting tribute to the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The Royal Ballet School
Photographs of the recipients of our RBS Awards at this year’s Graduation Ceremony are now on our website. The Director Gailene Stock writes:

We are most grateful to the Ballet Association for the ongoing support of our young dancers at The Royal Ballet School and our sincere thanks for increasing the financial assistance to three students. This is most generous and very much appreciated.

Yaoqian Shang from China and Marcelino Sambé from Portugal enter the 2nd Year in September and Nina Tonoli from Belgium joins the Graduate Year. They are all delightful and deserving students and I hope you will enjoy watching their progress over the next year. We will be happy to arrange for them to come and talk to the Association at some point, accompanied by one of the artistic staff. Thank you again for the support of the training at The Royal Ballet School.

Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement
Royal Academy of Arts, 17 September – 11 December 2011
The Royal Academy of Arts will stage a landmark exhibition focusing on Degas’ preoccupation with movement as an artist of the dance. The exhibition will trace the development of the artist's ballet imagery throughout his career. The exhibition will be the first to present Degas’ progressive engagement with the figure in movement in the context of parallel advances in photography and film. By presenting the artist in this context, the exhibition will demonstrate that Degas was far more than merely the creator of beautiful images of the ballet, but instead a modern, radical artist who thought profoundly about visual problems and was fully attuned to the technological developments of his time.

More details on the RA website.

At our meeting on 6 October there will be a draw for two pairs of tickets to this exhibition. If you would like to enter the draw, but can’t attend the meeting, please email the Chairman and your name will be entered.

It is the time of year when we ask you to renew your membership. Please print out and return the renewal form to Sylvia Tyler, 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 the Association after the start of April 2011, your membership covers this coming season and you will automatically receive your membership card.

If you currently receive your newsletters by post but have an e-mail address, please consider receiving them by email in future. If you would prefer to pay by electronic transfer, please indicate on the form and Sylvia will get in touch with you.

CHAIRMAN: David Bain