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November/December 2011 newsletter

SINCE OUR LAST NEWSLETTER we have had two more excellent meetings. After our AGM, at our second meeting in October, we welcomed Royal Ballet Principal Edward Watson as our guest. Ed first spoke about his role in Arthur Pita’s Metamorphosis before turning to the enormous variety of roles he has performed during his career. This has included much new choreography, including his collaborations with Ashley Page and Wayne Macgregor, as well as much of the MacMillan repertoire. Ed provided an interesting evening with a number of humorous anecdotes.

At our November meeting we welcomed First Soloist Itziar Mendizabal. Now in her second season with The Royal Ballet, Itziar spoke about her training in Spain and her time in Victor Ullate’s Company in Madrid, Zurich Ballet and Leipzig Ballet, as well as about her first season with the Royal. A lively speaker, Itziar provided members with a very entertaining evening.

Future meetings
At our last meeting of 2011 on Tuesday 6 December we are very privileged to welcome the Creative Director of the Royal Opera House, Deborah Bull. A former Principal with the Royal Ballet, Deborah has regularly spoken to the Association throughout her very varied career. When she last spoke she had just become Creative Director and was about to participate in the British contribution to the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics. In addition to her work at the Opera House, Deborah is a regular writer and broadcaster and her most recent book The Everyday Dancer has recently been published. She will speak about this book, her career as a dancer and aspects of her current role. We will have copies of the book available for purchase at the meeting at 35% discount – £9.75 instead of RRP £14.99. Deborah has kindly agreed to do a book signing after she has spoken, so either purchase a copy on the evening, or if you already have a copy, bring it along. As always, with Deborah, we can expect a fascinating evening.

At our first meeting of the New Year on Wednesday 4 January we are very pleased to welcome former Principal Pianist with The Royal Ballet, Philip Gammon. Working with the Company from 1964, Philip’s first solo performance with the Company was in 1973. He last talked to us at the time he retired in 2005. As well playing in the pit for many ballets, Philip appeared on stage in many others, such as The Concert and Mayerling. As well as talking about his career, Philip will play some extracts from pieces with which we associate him. Although Philip retired in 2005, he has returned occasionally to play with the Company. A couple of seasons ago he performed Bach’s Goldberg Variations in Kim Brandstrup’s ballet of the same name, which featured Tamara Rojo, in the Linbury. We can expect a very entertaining evening. NB As this meeting is on a Wednesday, please do not arrive before 7pm as there is a free concert in the church. If you wish to attend the concert, please arrive before 6pm.

At our second meeting of the month on Friday 20 January we have our annual meeting with our Royal Ballet School Award winners. They are Nina Tonoli from Belgium who is now in her third year and Yaoqian Shang from China and Marcelino Sambé from Portugal who are both in their second year at the Upper School. They will be escorted by Royal Ballet School teacher and former Royal Ballet Soloist David Peden. David will speak of his career, which has also included dancing with the National Ballet of Canada, Pacific North West Ballet and ENB and teaching in Singapore and Turkey as well as the Royal Ballet School. The students will speak of their experiences training both at home and now in London. Always a popular event, we can expect a lively evening. We hope to follow up this meeting with a visit to the Upper School to watch them in class sometime later in the season. News of this will be in the next newsletter.   
Provisional dates for the rest of the season are: Friday 3 February or Tuesday 7 February, Wednesday 29 February, Friday 9 March, 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.  All dates are subject to change. The meetings scheduled for 26 January, 20 March and 4 April have been cancelled as they clash with Royal Ballet Events.

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

Annual General Meeting
At our AGM on 21 October the current committee was re-elected unopposed. The committee is David Bain (Organising Secretary), Sylvia Tyler (Membership Secretary), Melanie Shipton (Treasurer), Liz Bouttell (Reporting Secretary), Rachel Holland, Geoffrey Griffiths, Chris Scott, Brian Don, Annette Fraser and Chiara Gorodesky. The Chairman and Deputy Chairman will be appointed at the next committee meeting.

Thanks were given to Nathalie Dantès, who has stepped down from the committee after the birth of her daughter. The Chairman’s Report and minutes of the previous AGM, which were circulated, will be posted on our website. Annual accounts were also circulated and are available on request.

The Director’s Appeal, Birmingham Royal Ballet
As announced in the last newsletter, the Association is entitled to two tickets for BRB rehearsals at the Birmingham Hippodrome. If you would like to be considered to represent the Association at one of these rehearsals, with a guest, please apply to the Chairman at the address at the bottom of the newsletter by post or email, indicating which rehearsals you are interested in. We will hold a draw for each rehearsal.

Dates are:
Hobson’s Choice –
Tuesday 21 February
Spring Passions –Tuesday 28 February
Far from the Madding Crowd – Tuesday 19 June
Faster, Higher, Stronger – Tuesday 26 June.

Rehearsals start at 7pm and are preceded by refreshments from 6pm. Applications for the February rehearsals must be received by 4th January.

Annual Dinner 2012
This season’s Annual Dinner will be on Thursday 17 May. Details and application forms will be included with the January newsletter. We expect this to be a very popular event this year as it marks the retirement of our Patron Dame Monica Mason as Director of The Royal Ballet.

Our January guest Philip Gammon will be playing Bach’s Goldberg Variations at Wesley’s Chapel, 49 City Road, London EC1Y 1AU, on 6 March at 1.05pm. The chapel is between Old Street and Moorgate stations. Map.

It is with great sadness that we have heard of the death of our member Peter Olley. A regular at our annual dinners, Peter will be greatly missed.

Congratulations to all the following from The Royal and BRB who have received nominations for the 12th National Dance Awards, given by the Critics’ Circle. Steven McRae, Sergei Polunin, Edward Watson for Best Male Dancer; Lauren Cuthbertson, Marianela Nuñez, Tamara Rojo for Best Female Dancer; Melissa Hamilton, Akane Takada, Elisha Willis for Outstanding Female Performance (Classical); Gary Avis for Outstanding Male Performance (Classical); David Bintley (for Cinderella for BRB) and Kim Brandstrup (for Invitus Invitam for the Royal Ballet) for Best Classical Choreography. Former Royal and BRB dancers have also been nominated: Sylvie Guillem (for 6000 Miles Away) and Alexander Whitley (Random Dance) for Outstanding Female and Male Performance (Modern) respectively. Ballet Boyz - The Talent have also been nominated as Best Independent Company.   

If you have not renewed your membership, this will be the last newsletter that you receive. The vast majority of you have renewed, but if it has slipped your mind please do so immediately.

CHAIRMAN: David Bain
23 Capstan Square, Stewart Street, London E14 3EU