PRINT (requires Adobe Reader)

June 2012 newsletter

SINCE OUR LAST NEWSLETTER we have had a splendid Annual Dinner, an excellent visit to the Royal Ballet School and a talk from Kevin O’Hare, Director Designate of The Royal Ballet. Kevin gave us a very entertaining evening. After picking out highlights from his career so far, Kevin spoke of his reasons for applying to become Director and about the appointment process. He then talked about the planning of his first season and gave some indication of his thinking for the future. Highlighting the roles of the artistic team, including Jeanetta Laurence, Wayne McGregor and Christopher Wheeldon, Kevin spoke of plans to bring in other choreographers, such as Alexei Ratmansky next season. Whilst briefly touching on many other topics, we sadly ran out of time, but hope that Kevin will return to speak to us at regular intervals during his time as Director. We are delighted that Kevin has agreed to become our Patron from next season.

Future meetings
At our meeting on Thursday 14 June we are delighted to welcome a young American member of the corps, Beatriz Stix-Brunell. Beatriz trained at the School of American Ballet, the Paris Opera Ballet School and privately in New York with Fabrice Herrault before joining Morphoses at the age of 15. She has danced in Christopher Wheeldon’s Polyphonia and Commedia, and was, this season, Alice in his Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. She also created a role in Wayne McGregor’s Carbon Life. Having recently graduated from High School by correspondence, Beatriz is planning on continuing her studies. By the time you receive this newsletter, Beatriz will have danced the lead role of Princess Rose in Kenneth MacMillan’s Prince of the Pagodas. So, as well as hearing about her training and previous experience, we can expect a detailed account of what has been a very exciting year for her. As announced in the last newsletter, Meaghan Grace Hinkis was scheduled to share this talk with Beatriz. Unfortunately she has had to drop out, but is keen to come and talk to us during next season.

At our second meeting of the month, on Thursday 28 June we are very pleased to welcome First Soloist Yuhui Choe as our guest. Yuhui spoke to us early in her career, alongside Celisa Diuana, as two young dancers who had joined the Company first as apprentices as a result of their success at the Prix de Lausanne. Yuhui trained with Daini Kudo in Japan and in Paris with Dominique Khalfouni before joining the Royal Ballet as an apprentice in 2002 and the Company in 2003. She was promoted to First Artist in 2006 and then to First Soloist in 2008, a year when she won a Critics’ Circle Award. She has created roles in Infra, Homage to the Queen and DGV: Danse à grande vitesse. Her repertory includes Olga, Sugar Plum Fairy, Lise, Nikiya, Cinderella, Princess Florine and roles in Les Patineurs, The Lesson, Dances at a Gathering, Les Sylphides, Agon, Elite Syncopations, Rubies, Chroma and Symphony in C. We can expect a fascinating evening.

At our last meeting of the season on Thursday 12 July we are delighted to welcome First Artist Valentino Zucchetti. Valentino trained at La Scala Ballet School in Milan and then The Royal Ballet School. In 2006 he won the Adeline Genée International Ballet Competition and for his graduation performance in 2007 he created a role in Christopher Hampson’s Three Dialogues. He joined Zurich Ballet that year and the Norwegian National Ballet in 2009 before joining the Royal in 2010. He has a very varied repertoire and has recently been seen as Gurn in La Sylphide and the Fool in Prince of the Pagodas. We can be sure that Valentino will finish our season in an entertaining style.

Please note that there will be no meeting in August.

We are now able to give provisional dates for next season. They are: Wednesday 5 September, Thursday 20 September, Thursday 4 October, Friday 19 October, Friday 16 November, Tuesday 20 November, Thursday 6 December, Friday 7 December, Thursday 10 January, Friday 18 January, Thursday 24 January, Wednesday 6 February, Thursday 14 February, Wednesday 20 February, Thursday 28 February, Wednesday 6 March, Wednesday 13 March, Wednesday 20 March, Friday 22 March, Thursday 4 April, Wednesday 10 April, Thursday 18 April, Thursday 16 May, Thursday 23 May, Friday 31 May, Friday 7 June, Friday 14 June, Wednesday 19 June. Obviously we will not be using all dates, but give them to help members plan their bookings. All dates are subject to change. From the list given last newsletter, 1 and 28 November, 24 April and 9 May have been removed.  

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. If you walk past the opticians you will see the church. Doors open at 6.45 p.m. unless otherwise stated. Entrance is £4 for members, £3 for concessions, £8 for guests.

We send our congratulations to First Soloist Johannes Stepanek, who on the 12 May married Catherine Ladd, formerly of the Pointe Shoe Room.

For those who like detail, we can inform you that Mara Galeazzi’s daughter Maia Anya weighed 2.8 kgs.

Globe Head Ballerina This major public realm commission by Yinka Shonibare MBE will be unveiled to the public on 19 June, fulfilling the Opera House’s commitment to Westminster City Council to display a piece of public art at the Russell Street site. The sculpture – a ballerina figure within a globe is modelled on Melissa Hamilton and will wear a tutu made of fabric. This is synonymous with Shonibare’s work implying an African identity and has been skilfully created by the costume department.    

Annual Dinner 2012
We held a very successful annual dinner on Thursday 17 May. We have had lots of messages from members and guests saying how much they enjoyed this very special evening marking our Patron Dame Monica Mason’s retirement from The Royal Ballet. On behalf of all members in the Association, our former Membership Secretary Joan Seaman presented Monica with our gift and a book of messages from members. Our gift, chosen by Monica, was to support Kew Gardens’ Save a Species project. The species Monica has chosen to save is Ranunculus lingua (Greater Spearwort), one of the largest of our native buttercups which has very large flowers and prefers wetter habitats, such as fens and pond margins. Soon after the dinner, Monica wrote: “Thank you and everyone in the Ballet Association for dinner on 17th May and an especially big thank you for my gift to save a species at Kew Gardens. I so appreciated your generosity. Thank you also for all your messages – I have really loved reading them all.”

We were very privileged that our Founder Patron, Sir Anthony Dowell was able to attend this year’s dinner, joining our very illustrious guest list. The other guests attending were: Dame Monica Mason, Kevin O’Hare, Jeanetta Laurence, Jonathan Cope, Jay Jolley, Christopher Saunders, Barry Wordsworth, Ursula Hageli, Olga Evreinoff, Merrill Ashley, Grant Coyle, Philip Mosley, Elizabeth Ferguson, Julia Lister, Nicola Tranah, Robert Parker, Marianela Nuñez, Thiago Soares, Melissa Hamilton, Alexander Campbell, Emma Jane Maguire, Fernando Montaño, Claudia Dean, Benjamin Ella, Meaghan Grace Hinkis, Fumi Kaneko, Yasmine Naghdi, Beatriz Stix-Brunell, Aaron Smyth and James Slater. We are very grateful to Aaron (a new member of the corps) and James (the reserve conductor) for attending at short notice, due to cancellations due to ill health.
As usual, we had 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.  

Visit to The Royal Ballet Upper School
We had a very enjoyable day ( 30 May 2012, 9.15am - 2.45pm) at the Upper School watching Anita Young and David Peden teach third year girls and second year boys’ classes and a second year pas de deux class. We saw our 2011 RBS Award winners, Nina Tonoli, Yaoqian Shang and Marcelino Sambé. The school were very welcoming and provided a very entertaining event, which was organised jointly with London Ballet Circle. Provisionally, our joint visit next year will be on Wednesday 24 April, 2013.   

CHAIRMAN: David Bain