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Feb/March 2011 newsletter

APOLOGIES FOR the lateness of this newsletter. The April/May newsletter will appear at the end of April. Since the last newsletter we have had three excellent meetings. At our second meeting in January we welcomed Gary Norman, Senior Ballet Teacher at The Royal Ballet School, who was accompanied by the winners of the Association’s 2010 RBS Awards, Claudia Dean and Lachlan Monaghan. Members were fascinated to hear about Gary’s illustrious career, which had started with his playing Hamlet in Robert Helpmann’s ballet as second cast to Rudolph Nureyev, when in only his first year in Australian Ballet. We were delighted by Claudia and Lachlan’s accounts of their schooling in both Australia and London, which included many competitions. We congratulate Claudia, who has accepted a contract to join the Royal Ballet for next season, and wish Lachlan success with his final year and a half at the school. In February we had a very successful visit to the Royal Ballet Upper School to observe both Claudia and Lachlan in class. We are very grateful to the School for their hospitality and hope to make this an annual event in our calendar.

At our February meeting our Deputy Chairman Sylvia Tyler interviewed our guest, Royal Ballet Principal Nehemiah Kish. Members had an enjoyable evening hearing about Nehemiah’s training and his career at the National Ballet of Canada, Royal Danish Ballet and now at The Royal Ballet, as well as guest appearances elsewhere. It was a pleasure to meet with Nehemiah so early in his time at The Royal and we know members will follow his career in London with interest.

At our March meeting it was an enormous pleasure to welcome Principal dancer Lauren Cuthbertson as our guest. Lauren had last spoken six years ago, so much has happened since, including her promotions to both First Soloist and then Principal, a vast repertoire of roles, her lengthy illness and, most recently, her triumph as Alice. She spoke very candidly about the highs and lows of these six years, displaying both great humour and intelligence, and provided members with a very enjoyable evening.

Future meetings
At our next meeting on Thursday 14 April we are delighted to welcome as our guest Royal Ballet Principal Mara Galeazzi. Always a favourite with members, Mara last spoke to us in 2007 soon after she had first taken a group of dancers to perform in Africa and launched her charity Dancing for the Children. We are very pleased that Mara is able to come and talk to us shortly after her most recent gala at Sadler’s Wells, proceeds of which are being shared between her charity and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. Mara will speak about her career in The Royal, her guest appearances and charity work, in what we know will be a very entertaining evening.

At our meeting on Wednesday 11 May, we are privileged to welcome a very special guest, former Royal Ballet Principal Bruce Sansom, who is currently Ballet Master and Assistant to the Artistic Director of San Francisco Ballet. Bruce joined the Royal Ballet in 1982 and was promoted to Principal in 1987. He danced in San Francisco as a Guest Principal for the 1992 season. Since leaving The Royal Ballet in 2000, Bruce has had an Artistic Director Apprenticeship with San Francisco Ballet and studied for the equivalent to an MA in arts management at the John F Kennedy Centre for Performing Arts in Washington DC. In 2002 he spent a year as Head of Development at Rambert Dance Company and in 2006 became Director of the Central School of Ballet. We know members will be fascinated to hear about these experiences as well as some reminiscences about his time with the Royal. We can expect a fascinating evening.

The following meeting will be on Friday 3 June. The speaker is to be confirmed. Further provisional dates, including those for next season will be published in the next newsletter. 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.

Members will know that we have had some difficulties with the sound system at some meetings, although at the last Lauren was heard very clearly. Committee member Brian Don has had a meeting with the Church and they are about to install a new system which Brian is hopeful will greatly improve the quality of sound.

Congratulations, etc
We send our congratulations to Liam Scarlett, who won the Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for Best Classical Choreography for his ballet Asphodel Meadows for The Royal Ballet and to Jann Parry who received the De Valois Award for Outstanding Achievement for Different Drummer, her biography of Kenneth Macmillan. We also congratulate Shiore Kase, a former recipient of the Ballet Association’s Royal Ballet School Award who won English National Ballet’s Emerging Dancer Award.

Since our last newsletter Soloist Bethany Keating has retired from The Royal Ballet. We wish her great success in whatever she does in the future and will be sending her a present on behalf of the Association.

Members will be saddened to hear that we have been informed of the deaths of three of our members, Elizabeth Morison, Monica Osborn and Joan Robertson. We will miss them greatly.

Members will be interested to know that Zenaida Yanowsky is performing a piece of Will Tuckett’s choreography as part of an installation by artist Claire Barclay at the Whitechapel Gallery on afternoons on April 6, 7, 13, 14, 16 & 17.

Members of The Royal Ballet will be performing a new work by Kristen McNally at the Apple Store in Covent Garden on Saturday 9 April at 2, 4 and 6pm. Carlos Acosta is speaking in conversation at the V&A on June 10th.

The Royal Ballet’s production of Alice in Wonderland is being shown at 2.30pm on BBC2 on Easter Saturday 23 April.

In Memoriam Galina Ulanova is a gala performance to mark the centenary of the birth of legendary ballerina, Galina Ulanova, to be held at 7pm on 15th May at the London Coliseum. Vladimir Vassilev, President of the Galina Ulanova Foundation and Ensemble Productions present this unique evening in association with the City of St Petersburg. Ulanova was the Bolshoi’s leading soloist for 16 years, and remained at the top of her profession until she retired at the age of 50 – after which she focused on coaching many of the best-known Russian dancers. Her legendary qualities will be explored further through rare video fragments played during the Gala, and in an exhibition held at the Coliseum on that day. The performance will be followed by a dinner in the presence of the dancers and Russian and international celebrities.

The audience will be treated to many of Ulanova's signature roles such as Romeo and Juliet, Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty, The Dying Swan, Chopiniana and The Red Poppy. Soloists will also perform special dedications to the great ballerina assoluta, including works by contemporary choreographers such as Jean-Christophe Maillot, Jose Martinez, Angelin Preljocaj, Alistair Marriott and Vladimir Vassilev himself. The programme will feature many of the world’s great dancers including Alessio Carbone, Bernice Coppieters, Mara Galeazzi, Dorothée Gilbert, Dmitry Gudanov, Olga Khoklova, Daria Klimentová, Ekaterina Krysanova, Ulyana Lopatkina Svetlana Lunkina, Vladimir Malakhov, Andrei Merkuriev, Vadim Muntagirov, Marianela Nuñez, Evgenia Obraztsova, Alex Oliviera, Marat Shemionov, Olga Smirnova, Thiago Soares, Sergey Strelkov, Svetlana Zakharova and Igor Zelensky.

Box Office: 0871 911 0200. For further information and details about the post-production dinner please contact: Ensemble Productions Ltd. Tel.+44 (0)20 8832 7424, email:

2011 Visit to Elmhurst School for Dance and Birmingham Royal Ballet – 22-23 June
Further detailed information will be sent to each individual attending this trip. If you have any questions, please ring Brian Don on 020 8368 4419.

Annual Dinner 2011
There are still some vacancies for our Annual Dinner on Tuesday 17th May at the Rubens Hotel in Buckingham Palace Road. Dinner is at 8pm. A private bar is available from 7pm. Applications are now open for members and their guests. If you haven’t already booked, please do so as soon as possible. An application form was attached to the last newsletter, but can be obtained from the Chairman if you have lost it. We will be announcing the guest list in the April newsletter. You will then have an opportunity to let us know which dancers you would like to sit near.
CHAIRMAN: David Bain