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March/April 2012 newsletter

AT OUR MARCH MEETING we were delighted to welcome First Artist Claire Calvert, who gave us a very entertaining account of her training and her career in The Royal Ballet. She was refreshingly open about how she came to be cast for roles, such as the Lilac Fairy and Lescaut’s Mistress. She said she felt very fortunate to have been coached by Monica Mason in most of the major roles she has danced. By the time you receive this newsletter she will have made her debut in Wayne Mcgregor’s new ballet. She had said she was covering Akane Takada’s role. Akane is injured, which gives Claire her first opportunity in a McGregor ballet.

Future meetings
As announced in the last newsletter, at our meeting on Tuesday 17 April we are delighted to welcome Royal Ballet Principal Sarah Lamb. Sarah last spoke to the Association in 2007 and much has happened since. A regular in ballets by Christopher Wheeldon and Wayne McGregor, we have seen Sarah in a variety of roles so far this season, including lead roles in Manon, Sleeping Beauty, Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, Gloria and Asphodel Meadows. She will have danced in Alice and Polyphonia, amongst others, between now and the meeting. We can look forward to another fascinating interview.

There will be no meeting on Thursday 3 May. We have cancelled this date as we already have three other events in May, including the Annual Dinner and a visit.

On Wednesday 30 May we have a very special meeting when we welcome the Royal Ballet’s new Director designate Kevin O’Hare. Currently Administrative Director, Kevin has spoken to the Association twice since joining the Royal Ballet, both times alongside his fellow former BRB principal Miyako Yoshida. This time he will not have Miyako to hold his hand! We are very grateful to Kevin for agreeing to speak to us at what must be a very busy time for him. We look forward to hearing more about his planning for next season and, possibly, future seasons, as well as looking back on his time as Administrative Director and his dancing career.

N.B. This will undoubtedly be a very popular meeting, but please remember that as it is a Wednesday, it will be preceded by one of Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church’s Free Concerts. If you wish to attend the concert first please arrive by 6pm. Otherwise, please do not arrive before 7pm. If you do, please wait in one of the many coffee shops or bars in the area.
Provisional dates for the rest of next season are: Thursday 14 June, Thursday 28 June, Thursday 12 July. 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.

Dame Monica Mason
As you are all well aware, our Patron and Director of The Royal Ballet, Dame Monica Mason retires after some 54 years in the Company. Of course, the Association will be giving her a present as well as a book of messages from members. Our secretary, Sylvia Tyler, will bring the book to our next meeting and will bring it to performances at the Opera House. If you are unable to see Sylvia, but would like to donate to Monica’s present, please send a cheque payable to the Ballet Association along with any message on a postcard sized piece of paper which will stuck in the book to Sylvia Tyler, Membership Secretary, The Ballet Association, Flat 7, 19/24 Wynyatt Steet, London, EC1V 7HY.

There will be a Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Alexander Grant at 12 Noon on Friday 27 April at St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden.

Former Royal Ballet Principal Irek Mukhamedov will be performing with the Schaufuss Ballet at the Coliseum from 23-28 July in Peter Schaufuss’s innovative interpretation of the three Tchaikovsky ballets.

Members will have seen the exhibition celebrating our Patron’s career in the Royal Opera House. We hope to be able to arrange a guided tour of Monica Mason: A Life with the Royal Ballet. Details will be in the next newsletter.

Annual Dinner 2012
All the places for our Annual Dinner on Thursday 17th May are now taken. If you applied you should have received your tickets by now. I have contacted the three people currently on the waiting list. If you have forgotten to apply it is still worth doing so, and joining the waiting list, as a few places always become available nearer the date because of illness or work commitments. Please note, anyone who drops out after 10th May will only receive their money back if we manage to fill the place. If you need an application form, please contact the Chairman. A list of guests attending will be included in the next newsletter at the beginning of May. You will then have an opportunity to indicate whose table you would like to sit on.

2012 Visit to Elmhurst School for Dance and Birmingham Royal Ballet – 20-21 June
There are still a few places available for our annual visit to BRB and Elmhurst School for Dance. This will include the first night of David Bintley’s Far from the Madding Crowd, a talk by a BRB dancer, watching BRB class and a full day at Elmhurst School for Dance watching classes and rehearsals. We have reserved a number of seats in the Dress Circle and Rear Stalls for the performance and accommodation at the IBIS hotel for those who require it.

Many of those who have booked places already have attended the last two visits, an indication of how well we are looked after by both the Company and the School. If you haven’t been before we can thoroughly recommend the visit. Completed application forms should be sent to Brian Don, BA Committee, 5 Weirdale Avenue, London, N20 0AN. Further information, or another application form, can be obtained from Brian on 020 8368 4419 or Chris Scott, BA Committee,

Annual Visit to The Royal Ballet School Upper School
A date for your diary. Our Annual visit to the Upper School of the Royal Ballet School in Floral Street will be on Wednesday 30 May. This visit will be a joint visit with members of London Ballet Circle. Details of timings, etc, and how to apply will be included in the next newsletter once the school has returned from its Easter holidays. We hope to be able to see classes or rehearsals involving our three 2011 Award winners, 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. We hope to be able to arrange timings which will suit those who live out of London, particularly as you may also wish to attend our meeting that evening with Kevin O’Hare.

CHAIRMAN: David Bain