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April/May 2011 newsletter

AT OUR APRIL MEETING it was a pleasure to welcome Royal Ballet Principal Mara Galeazzi. Mara spoke about her career since she had last talked in 2007 and about her work for her charity Dancing for the Children, for which she had organised a gala at Sadler’ Wells a few days before. As well as talking about organising these galas, she spoke of working on new choreography, both within The Royal Ballet and the short pieces for the galas. She provided us with a very entertaining evening. We held a collection at the end of the evening for Dancing for the Children and raised £158.

Future meetings
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. Please note that there is a concert in the Church preceding this meeting from 6-6.55pm. This concert is free, so if you wish to attend it, please arrive before 6pm. If not, please do not arrive before 6.55. If you do arrive early, please wait silently until the concert finishes, or creep into the concert between pieces.

To end our season, on Friday 3 June, we are delighted to welcome Principal Character Artist Elizabeth McGorian as our guest. Elizabeth is currently to be seen on stage as the Madame in Manon. Born in Zambia, she studied in Zimbabwe and then at the Royal Ballet School. She won the Adeline Genée gold medal in 1977 and joined The Royal Ballet that year. She became Principal Character artist in 1997. Her repertory, as well as the Madame, includes Berta, Helena, the Bride in Les Noces, Tsarevna and Tsarina in Anastasia, Queen, Countess and Carabosse in Sleeping Beauty, Lady Capulet, Myrthe, Empress Elizabeth and Helene Vetsera, Lady Elgar, Utah Longhorn Ram, Madge, Madame Larina, The Pianist in The Lesson, and roles in The Concert, Elite Syncopations and Nutcracker. She created roles in Fleeting Figures, A Broken Set of Rules, Piano, Half the House, and Frankenstein, the Modern Prometheus. Always entertaining, we can expect a fascinating evening with Elizabeth.

Provisional dates for next season will be published in the next newsletter. The first meeting is likely to be at the end of August.

Meetings, unless otherwise stated, begin at 7.30 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 unless otherwise stated. Entrance is £4 for members, £3 for concessions, £8 for guests.

Entrances, exits, etc.
Two new dancers joined The Royal Ballet after the mid-season break as artists. They are Francesca Hayward, from the Royal Ballet School, and a former recipient of the Young British Dancer of the Year, and Fumi Kaneko from Japan. As announced in the last newsletter, Claudia Dean joins from the Royal Ballet School next season. We wish them all a successful time in the Company.

It is with great sadness that we have heard of the death of one of our members, Joan Robertson. Joan was a feisty 90 year old who lived in Geneva, but regularly attended performances in London. Each year she attended the Prix de Lausanne, went on Royal Ballet supporters’ trips to China, Australia and Mexico and regularly attended the International Ballet Festival in Havana. She will be greatly missed by her friends.

As usual, to encourage new choreography, we donated £500 towards the Draft Works programme in the Linbury Theatre in April. We hope many members were able to see the performances and enjoyed the nine new works. We have received letters of thanks from both Kevin O’Hare, Administrative Director of The Royal Ballet, and Susannah Lee-Jeffries, Head of Fundraising Appeals and Communications.

Members will be interested to know that Sir Frederick Ashton’s Romeo and Juliet is being performed by the Peter Schaufuss Ballet at the Coliseum from 11-17 July with Ivan Vasiliev and Natalia Osipova dancing in all performances.

Royal Opera House Exhibition
Part of the very successful exhibition, Invitation to the Ballet: Ninette de Valois and the Story of the Royal Ballet, at the Lowry in Salford has moved to the Opera House. We are hoping to arrange a guided tour given by the curator for members of the Association. This is expected to be in June or July.

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 open for members and their guests. If you haven’t already booked, please do so as soon as possible. An application form can be obtained from the Chairman if you have lost it. If you have a ticket and can’t come, please let David know, even if it is at the last moment, by contacting him on his mobile. If you just don’t turn up, it leaves a space at a table. As we are not sold out, any cancellations will only be refunded if we manage to fill the place.

So far, the following have accepted the invitation to attend the dinner:- Dame Monica Mason, Jeanetta Laurence, Jonathan Cope, Christopher Saunders, Gailene Stock, Gary Norman, Zenaida Yanowsky, Mara Galeazzi, Lauren Cuthberton, Steven McRae, David Makhateli, Nehemiah Kish, Sergei Polunin, Gary Avis, Genesia Rosato, Itziar Mendizabal, Helen Crawford, Bennet Gartside, Kenta Kura, Elizabeth Harrod, Francesca Filpi, Emma-Jane Maguire, Akane Takada, Sabina Westcombe, Yasmine Naghdi, Beatrix Stix-Brunnel, Valentino Zucchetti, Camille Bracher, Sander Blommaert, Robert Clark and Kate Shipway. About four more have yet to confirm and will be announced at the May meeting. If you have a preference for whose table you would like to be on, please let David Bain know by 12 May. We cannot guarantee to be able to meet everyone’s requests. We will do our best, but only if you give us a number of alternatives.

As usual, we will have 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. In the past we have been happy to allow members to take their own photos at the end of the meal. If you bring a camera, please refrain from taking photos until after the speeches and only take photos of those members and dancers who were on your table. In that way, we can ensure that no dancer has to put up with excessive requests to be photographed and that opportunities to talk with dancers are not interrupted. As this is a private dinner, please do not post your photos of dancers on any website.

CHAIRMAN: David Bain