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November/December 2013 newsletter

AT OUR FIRST November meeting, it was a pleasure to welcome Royal Ballet Principal Thiago Soares as our guest. Thiago gave us a very entertaining evening talking about a broad range of topics and we were joined briefly at the end by his wife, Marianela Nuñez, and the director of the film about them, All I Am. Thiago spoke of the development of his partnering and acting skills, the former mostly in Brazil and the latter since he joined the Royal. He also spoke of teachers and others who have influenced his career, as well of his work with choreographers within the Company. Thiago discreetly mentioned that he, Steven McRae and Iana Salenko were involved in an advert for an alcoholic beverage. You may now know that this is Baileys. So look out for it on television and in cinemas.

By the time you receive this newsletter we will have had our second meeting of the month, where we two of the younger members of the Company, Artists Claudia Dean and Tierney Heap, as our guests. Since our last newsletter Claudia has made her debut as The Chosen One in Kenneth MacMillan’s Rite of Spring to much critical acclaim. No doubt, it will have been a lively meeting and we will tell you about it in the next newsletter.

For members unable to attend meetings, a summary is made available on our website once the report has been checked by the guest speaker. If you do not have access to the internet and would like a copy of a report, please send an A5 stamped, addressed envelope to Geoffrey Griffiths, BA Committee, 5 Monkhams Avenue, Woodford Green, Essex, IG8 0HB.

Future meetings
We are delighted to announce that our guests on Wednesday 11 December will be First Artist Hayley Forskitt and her fiancé former Royal Ballet Soloist Brian Maloney. A regular at our Annual Dinners, Brian has spoken to us before and needs no introduction. He retired from The Royal Ballet at the end of last season and is working with two sports scientists, who he did all his rehab work with, relating the work more closely to ballet. So he is putting to good use all that he learned during multiple injuries! He is excited about helping the dancers to be the best and healthiest dancers they can be. He has been nominated for the Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for Outstanding Male Performance for 2012-13 for his portrayal of Bratfisch in Mayerling. Born in Northampton, Hayley trained at The Royal Ballet School before joining Norwegian National Ballet when she graduated in 2003. Her repertory there included Dryad Queen in Don Quixote, a role she has repeated recently, Rose Fairy and Snow Queen in Nutcracker, Polyhymnia, and roles in Balanchine and Forsythe ballets. She joined the Royal Ballet in 2009 and has danced in Aeternum and Raven Girl and as Mercedes in Don Quixote. Brian and Hayley became engaged this Summer. We can expect an interesting meeting.

Our January meeting will be our annual visit by our Royal Ballet School Award winners accompanied by one of their teachers and our guest in February will be Leanne Benjamin. Details of both meetings will be in the next newsletter.

Provisional dates for the rest of next season are: Wednesday 29 January, Thursday 20 February, Monday 17 March, Wednesday 2 April, Thursday 24 April, Thursday 22 May, Wednesday 11 June. Although all dates are subject to change, please put these dates in your diaries. N.B. There have been a number of changes to the dates of meetings because of clashes with other events. (The meetings originally scheduled for 12 February, 5 March, 26 March, 7 May and 4 June have been cancelled and replaced by 20 February, 17 March and 11 June as new dates) 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 walk up Endell Street and cross over Shaftesbury Avenue and walk past the opticians. Doors open at 6.45 p.m. unless otherwise stated. Entrance is £4 for members, £3 for concessions, £8 for guests.

You should by now have renewed your membership. Please note that if you haven’t renewed this will be the last newsletter you receive.

Annual General Meeting
At our Annual General Meeting which preceded Thiago’s talk, the current committee were re-elected. In addition Roger Handley volunteered to join the committee. So the Committee for 2013-14 will be 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, Chiara Gorodesky, Richard Griffiths and Roger Handley. The Chairman and Deputy Chairman are appointed by the Committee at their first meeting after the AGM.

Members will have noticed a number of new faces on stage in the Royal Ballet. Some are still students in the Royal Ballet School. However, at the end of October it was announced that students Gina Storm-Jensen from Norway, Reece Clarke from Scotland and Matthew Ball had joined the Company. Gina joined the Upper School in 2011 whilst Reece, who was one of the Ballet Association Award winners in the Summer, joined White Lodge when he was 11. Matthew graduated in the Summer but was injured and unable to join at the start of the season. At the start of the season Solomon Golding, who had left the School in 2012 joined from Hong Kong Ballet.

Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards
As for the past two years, the Ballet Association is sponsoring the Best Classical Choreography Award at the Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards. The nominees for this award are Mark Morris for Beaux for San Francisco Ballet, David Nixon for The Great Gatsby for Northern Ballet, Alexei Ratmansky for 24 Preludes for The Royal Ballet and Christopher Wheeldon for Aeternum for The Royal Ballet. We congratulate all nominees and await the outcome with interest.

Nominations for other awards include Edward Watson and former Royal Ballet dancer Sergei Polunin for Best Male Dancer, Natalia Osipova and former Royal Ballet Prix de Lausanne Apprentice Maria Kochetkova for Best Female Dancer, Akane Takada for Outstanding Female Performance as Olga in Onegin and Brian Maloney for Outstanding Male Performance as Bratfisch in Mayerling.

Annual Dinner
A date for your diary: our Annual Dinner will be on Tuesday 6 May. Details, including an application form, will be in the next newsletter.

Visit to the Museum of London
Following the very successful outing to the Museum of London earlier this year to see some of the collection of Ballet Russes costumes that they hold in storage, a repeat visit has been arranged. The visit will be on Wednesday 12 February 2014 at 2pm and the cost will be £7.50. Again Caroline Hamilton, a ballet costume historian, will talk to us about the items in concert with the department curator. Those who came last time will attest to it being a fascinating opportunity to see the costumes at very close quarters and with expert commentary.

The Museum's Fashion and Textile collection holds a unique selection of Ballet Russes costumes including six costumes from The Sleeping Princess, including the Spanish Prince and the wicked fairy Carabosse once worn by Enrico Cecchetti. The collection also holds Vaslav Nijinksy's costume from Les Sylphides, Lubov Tchernicheva's costume from Le Tricorne and an intriguing costume from Firebird that remained unidentified till 2010. We will see the items in the department's working area in the storage facililty and, as this is a modestly spaced area, there are only limited places for the visit. Those members who were on the reserve list for the visit last time will have priority for this visit. Please email Annette Fraser at if you would like to join the outing.

Visit to Birmingham Royal Ballet and Elmhurst School for Dance
Our annual visit to BRB and Elmhurst will take place on Wednesday 4 and Thursday 5 June. Please put these dates in your diary. This visit is always very popular and will include the opening night performance of Darkness and Light, three ballets by Frederick Ashton- Dante Donata, Les Rendezvous and Façade. A booking form for this event will be in the next newsletter. We have reserved accommodation in the IBIS hotel at the same rates as last year and seats for the performance. Additional nights in the hotel can be booked for the same price.

Annual Visit to the Royal Ballet School
This joint visit with London Ballet Circle will be on Wednesday 30 April. Booking will open in mid-March.

Association West End Walk
There were nine members on a walk round the West End on a Sunday in October led by ballet costume historian, Caroline Hamilton. Caroline is a fountain of wisdom on all things related to the Ballet Russes and Anna Pavlova and took us around the streets of theatre land showing us landmarks related to those two companies. Among other things we discovered was where in Leicester Square the famous Alhambra theatre had been located - the stage for the 141 performances of the only run of the Ballet Russes production of The Sleeping Princess - as well as the theatre's back entrance on Charing Cross Road where the eagle-eyed can find a plaque that marks the spot. We also looked at the building on Floral Street where the sets for La Boutique Fantasque and Le Tricorne were painted and where another plaque records the fact (next time you are on Floral Street, look on the wall to the right of the entrance to the restaurant Masala Zone and you will see it.)

We found the premises of a wig-makers, costume makers and theatre laundries; learnt which were the favourite London hotels of Diaghilev - initially the Waldorf Astoria but then the Savoy; as well as looking for the location of the basement where the Massine version of the Rite of Spring was rehearsed and the location of Cyril Beaumont's famous ballet book-shop on Charing Cross Road. We learnt about the fantastic salaries of ballet dancers performing in the music-halls compared to the dancers for the Ballet Russes, saw the theatres where they shared the stage and the ones where they played to a more discerning audience, which Diaghilev thought much more appropriate for his company's talents. Caroline recommended two books that members might enjoy which are written by two of the longest-standing members of the Ballet Russes company. Both are available in paperback and both are very readable. Dancing for Diaghilev is by Lydia Sokolova (known as Hilda Munnings originally) and The Diaghilev Ballet by Serge Grigoriev, the ballet master of the Ballet Russes.

A Charity Violin Recital
Philip Gammon has informed us that he is accompanying the violinist at this charity recital organised by the Rotary Club of Hammersmith and will be delighted to see any BA members there. It is at 2.30pm on Sunday 8 December at Chiswick Catholic Centre, 2 Dukes Avenue, Chiswick, W4 2AA Nearest tube station is Turnham Green 0pposite Chiswick Public Library.

Performers: Pierre Largeron Graduate (1st Class Hons) of the Royal Academy of Music, London accompanied by Philip Gammon, Former Principal Pianist of the Royal Ballet, Covent Garden.

Proceeds to be donated to London’s Air Ambulance. Tickets (including refreshments) – £12.50 in advance or £15 on the door. For more information please call 020 7193 6250 or email

CHAIRMAN: David Bain
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