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September/October 2011 newsletter

SINCE OUR LAST newsletter we have had two excellent meetings. At our September meeting we welcomed two of the Company’s younger dancers Camille Bracher and Yasmine Naghdi as our guests. They delighted members with accounts of their very different training in South Africa and England respectively and their experiences in their time in the Company. They then spoke about the performances of Romeo and Juliet in the O2 and of the tour to Taipei in Taiwan. They gave us a very entertaining evening.

At our first meeting in October it was a great pleasure to welcome our Patron Dame Monica Mason as our guest. Monica has been a staunch supporter of the Association since we were formed and has talked to us regularly during her time as Director of The Royal Ballet. Monica spoke about her planning of the current season and looked back on her time as Director, further back on her arrival in England at the age of 14 and what will be 54 years in the Company. Always an eloquent speaker, Monica gave us a fascinating evening and delighted a packed audience.

Future meetings
Our meeting on Friday 21 October will be preceded by our AGM at 6.45pm. Details about the AGM can be found later in this 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 performed in the world premiere of Arthur Pita’s The Metamorphosis in the Linbury Theatre. Based on the story of Franz Kafka’s novella, Ed took the lead role in a cast from a range of disciplines. We can expect a very interesting evening discussing Ed’s very varied career. Doors for the AGM will open at 6.15pm. If you do not wish to attend the AGM but are coming to the meeting, please arrive at 7.15pm.

We are delighted to welcome Royal Ballet First Soloist Itziar Mendizabal as our guest at our meeting on Wednesday 2 November. Born in Spain, Itziar trained at the Victor Ullate School before joining his company in 1997. She joined Zurich Ballet in 2003 before joining Leipzig Ballet in 2006, where she became a Principal in 2008. Itziar has delighted many members with her performances since joining the Company at the start of last season. Her repertoire prior to joining the Royal included work by a vast range of contemporary and neo-classical choreographers as well as classical roles such as Odette/Odile and Giselle. In her first season with the Royal, amongst other roles she danced Olga in Winter Dreams and Myrthe in Giselle, as well as many soloist roles. We can expect an entertaining evening. N.B. 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.
Provisional dates for the rest of next season are:

Tuesday 6 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.

All dates are subject to change. The meetings scheduled for November 16 and December 9 have been cancelled.

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.

The Director’s Appeal Birmingham Royal Ballet
As announced in the last newsletter, the Association made a donation to this Appeal for funds towards David Bintley’s new ballet Faster, Higher, Stronger. This entitles us 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.

Members will have been saddened to hear of the death of Alexander Grant on 30 September at the age of 86. This season’s Royal Ballet revival of La Fille mal gardée will be dedicated to his memory.

Congratulations to Marianela Nuñez and Thiago Soares who were married during the summer break in South America and to Lizzie Harrod and Steven McRae who were married at Somerset House. Pictures of the latter, taken by Andrej Uspenski were in Hello magazine.

We also send congratulations to BRB Principal Robert Parker who succeeds our President Desmond Kelly next summer as Artistic Director of Elmhurst School for Dance. And to Tamara Rojo who was presented with the Encomienda de Numero of the Spanish Order of Isabella Católica at the Spanish Embassy on 6 September. Created by Ferdinand VII of Spain in 1815, only 800 can hold this honour at any one time.

Members will be pleased to hear that The Frederick Ashton Foundation was launched on 8 October with the principal aim of perpetuating the legacy and work of the distinguished English choreographer.

Deborah Bull, Creative Director of The Royal Opera House, had a new book published on 6 October. The Everday Dancer explodes some of the myths about a dancer’s glamorous life and will be a must for everyone who supports The Royal Ballet.

We are delighted to announce that committee member Nathalie Dantès had a baby girl, Sophie Victoria, on 26 July.

Annual General Meeting
Friday 21 Octoberwill be preceded by our AGM. Consequently the evening’s proceedings will commence at 6.45pm. It will be held at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church. The AGM will be followed at 7.30pm by our meeting with Edward Watson.


  1. Apologies
  2. Minutes of previous Annual General Meeting
  3. Matters Arising
  4. Chairman’s Report
  5. Financial Report
  6. Election of Committee
  7. Any Other Business

At this meeting we shall be electing Honorary Officers and Committee Members. The Committee for 2010-11 season was David Bain ( Chairman and Organising Secretary), Sylvia Tyler (Deputy Chairman and Membership Secretary), Melanie Shipton (Treasurer), Liz Bouttell (Reporting Secretary), Rachel Holland, Geoffrey Griffiths, Belinda Taylor, Chris Scott, Brian Don, Annette Fraser, Nathalie Dantès and Chiara Gorodesky. For family reasons (see earlier), Nathalie has stepped down from the committee, although may still write some reports. All other current members have indicated they wish to continue on the committee. Chiara was co-opted to the committee at our last meeting.

Association members wishing to nominate candidates for election or wishing to join the committee themselves should write to the Chairman, David Bain, by Thursday 20 October. No nomination can be received at the AGM. Candidates for election must be proposed and seconded, in writing, by members of the Association. Anyone interested in joining the committee should phone David to discuss what it entails.

The Royal Ballet School
We have had cards from the three Royal Ballet School students who won our awards. Nina Tonoli writes ‘Dear People of the Ballet Association. Thank you for the award which you presented to me at the end of the summer term and for all your support! I really appreciate it and I’m looking forward to my third year at the Upper School.’ Marcelino Sambé writes ‘Thank you for all the support. The prize will be really helpful for my studies. I love being at the Royal Ballet School and am loving the experience of living in London. I am looking forward to meeting the members soon. One more time, thank you very much.’ Yaoqian Shang writes ‘Thank you so much for the Ballet Association Award. It made me so happy and I am thankful for your support. I will continue working very hard everyday and become the best dancer I can possibly be. I would like to thank you one more time for the award. It was really important for me. It means that people are beginning to recognise that I have talent and they are trying to give me every opportunity to show myself in front of an audience because, us, ballet dancers need to feel loved and we need to listen to those standing ovations. They are like the air for us.’ The students will come to a meeting early in the new year and we hope to arrange a visit to see them in class.

Elmhurst School for Dance Award
We received a letter from Nastazia Phillipou’s parents thanking us for the award. We have since received an email from Nastazia.

Dear David Bain and the Ballet Association

I would like to thank each and every one of the members of the Ballet Association for the wonderful award that you have so generously given me during your visit to Elmhurst School for Dance last June. It is such an honour for me! I started rehearsing for the Genée Competition as soon as I came back from the summer holidays, in which I spent two weeks in Prague participating in masterclasses organised by well-known teachers and principals from all around the world. It was a brilliant experience which has opened my eyes and made me realise what is out there and what is expected of me in the near future. In a way, I guess it was like a preparation for this competition. We have learned so many variations and two incredibly challenging pas de deux from all the favourite ballets.

So, after these intensive two weeks and then a week of glorious sunshine in Cyprus, I have started school very energetically! I look forward for this wonderful experience next month and I would just like to say how grateful I am for being given such an opportunity. My teachers and I have decided that I should do the solo from La Bayadère, the second Shades Variation, which is danced to one of my favourite pieces of music, and the 2nd Pas de Quatre variation from Swan Lake. This week I was coached by Mrs Denise Whiteman and Mr Kelly and both have given me excellent advice as to how to perfect these variations and make them look professional. During these 10 days in South Africa we will be trained in class by Lynn Wallis and Christopher Hampson who happened to be one of the teachers in the masterclasses in Prague! Not only that, but we will have the opportunity to work with Kirsten Isenberg who will teach us a whole new solo that she has choreographed specifically for this competiton. This piece will be performed in the semifinals along with our 19th century variation, which in this case is La Bayadère.

I am so excited for this new adventure! Only two days left and I'm leaving for Cape Town. I promise I will be keeping you informed during the next two weeks, letting you know about my progress and the overwhelming experience I am about to discover! Yours Sincerely, Nastazia Philippou.

We will update you on Nastazia’s progress in the next newsletter. For your diary, this season’s visit to BRB and Elmhurst will probably be on 20 and 21 June.

It is the time of year when we ask you to renew your membership. A renewal form was attached to the last newsletter. Many thanks to the many of you who have renewed so quickly. If you haven’t yet renewed please return the form to Sylvia Tyler, Membership Secretary, as soon as possible, but not later than the end of October.

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