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February 2013 newsletter

WE STARTED 2013 with two excellent meetings. At our first in January we had our annual event with teachers and students from the Royal Ballet School. We were delighted to welcome former First Soloist and Graduate Year teacher Nicola Tranah alongside our 2012 Ballet Association Award winners Annette Buvoli, Marcelino Sambé, and Yaoqian Shang. Niccy spoke about her training and career, including her time with Dutch National Ballet, the Royal Ballet and as a guest, for example in Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake. She then talked about her move to teaching and the differences between the training she received and the current teaching at the Royal Ballet School. It was a pleasure to hear from Annette, Yaoqian and Marcelino, who gave very articulate accounts of their training, their experiences in competitions and in working with the Company this season. Marcelino took up a contract with the Royal Ballet at the start of December. Annette and Yaoqian are currently auditioning, but already have had some offers. We wish all three success in their future careers and thank them for a very entertaining evening. [Since this was written Annette has been offered a contract with The Royal Ballet.]

At our second meeting of the month, we welcomed former Principal Tamara Rojo. Despite heavy snow, which meant some members couldn’t get into London, as expected we had a good attendance for this eagerly awaited meeting. We concentrated on the last two years of her career. She spoke about the new works she had danced in this time including Sweet Violets, her partnership with Sergei Polunin in Marguerite and Armand, as well as some highlights such as Song of the Earth. She then talked about being asked to apply for the post of Director of the Royal Ballet, how she learnt from this experience and then successfully applied to become Artistic Director of English National Ballet. Tamara was then asked about how she chose her ballet staff and her programming for her first season, before talking about her plans for the future and the rebranding of the Company and link with designer Vivienne Westwood, which had been announced earlier in the week. Once again Tamara gave us a thought provoking and fascinating evening.

Future meetings
Please note: The next three meetings are on Wednesdays and will be preceded in the venue by the Church’s Free Concerts. If you wish to attend the concerts please arrive before 6.00pm. If not, please do not arrive before 7.00pm. If you do arrive during the concert, please wait in silence in the foyer.
At our meeting on Wednesday 6 February we are very pleased to welcome First Soloist Alexander Campbell as our guest. Born in Sydney, he trained at the Academy there before joining the Royal Ballet School. In 2003 he was awarded a Silver Medal at the Adeline Genée Awards and was a finalist at the Prix de Lausanne. He joined BRB in 2005, was promoted to First Soloist in 2009 and danced a very broad repertoire including Romeo, Mercutio, Petrushka, Franz and the Prince in Sleeping Beauty, Nutcracker and Cinderella. He also created roles in Michael Corder’s Le Baiser de la fée and David Bintley’s E=mc². He joined the Royal Ballet in 2011 and was promoted to First Soloist in 2012. His roles have included Bluebird, Hans-Peter/Nutcracker, Mercutio, Mad Hatter, Jack in Sweet Violets, Fool in Pagodas, Gurn, and recently the First movement couple in MacMillan’s Concerto. We can expect another fascinating evening.

At our meeting on Wednesday 6 March we have a very unique pas de deux, when we welcome Principal Character Artist Elizabeth McGorian and our President, Répétiteur Jonathan Cope. Neither needs any introduction. Born in Zambia and trained in Zimbabwe before joining the Royal Ballet School, Elizabeth joined the Company in 1977, soon after winning the Adeline Genée gold medal. She became a Principal Character Artist in 1997. She has an extensive repertoire of roles which have recently included Madge in La Sylphide and the Mother in Las Hermanas. Jonny returned to performance last summer, partnering Darcey Bussell in the Olympics’ Closing Ceremony. We can expect an extremely entertaining evening.

Provisional dates for the rest of the season are: Wednesday 20 March, Thursday 18 April, Friday 31 May, Friday 7 June. 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. 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.

Members will be interested to know that former Royal Ballet pianist Philip Gammon gives a lunchtime concert at Wesley’s Chapel, City Road at 1.05pm on Tuesday 12 March. With Peter Thomas on violin, he plays Beethoven’s Sonata No. 10 Op.96 in G major and Schubert’s Sonatina Op.137 No.1 in D major. All will be welcome to attend.  

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our member Ronnie Marsh at the age of 92 on 21 December. He will be greatly missed by his friends in the Association.

A biography of Tatiana Leskova: A Ballerina at Large has recently been published. Born in 1922, she studied with former Imperial Russian ballerinas and joined Colonel de Basil’s Ballet Russes, settling in Brasil in 1945. She staged Leonide Massine’s Choréartium for Birmingham Royal Ballet in 1991 and his Les Présages for many companies. It is a good read.

Members will have been shocked to hear the news from Moscow of the acid attack on Sergei Filin, the Artistic Director of the Bolshoi Ballet. We wish him a speedy recovery after lengthy surgery and welcome his determination to return as Director. Experienced ballerina Galina Stepanenko will lead the Company during his absence. We look forward to welcoming the Bolshoi to the Royal Opera House this Summer.
2013 Visit to Elmhurst School for Dance and BRB – 19-20 June 2013
Our annual visit to Birmingham is always very popular. On the first day we will attend BRB class, have lunch together, have an interview of a BRB dancer and watch a performance of Giselle.

On the Thursday, following breakfast, we will arrange transportation from the hote lto Elmhurst School for Dance, where Association members will receive a warm welcome. Our President Robert Parker will be our host for the day. Following registration and reception, members will enjoy a day in the school watching classes and rehearsals together with the presentation of the Association’s Annual Award to a student during lunch. The day will conclude at approximately 3.30pm.

Further information can be obtained from Brian Don on 020 8368 4419 or Chris Scott on

Annual Dinner 2013
We remind you that our Annual Dinner will be on Monday 20th May.  An application form was attached to the last newsletter. If you haven’t yet applied, we recommend you do so as soon as possible as tickets are going fast. Once again, it will take place at the Rubens Hotel in Buckingham Palace Road.  Dinner is at 8pm.  A private bar is available from 7pm. The cost this year will be £39. Once again, this year’s dinner will be a very special occasion as it celebrates the 40th Anniversary of the Association as well as our Patron Kevin O’Hare’s first season as Director of The Royal Ballet. As in recent years, the dinner will be open to members only in the first instance.  We will open it up to members’ guests at the end of March.
Visit to the RBS Upper School - Wednesday 24 April 2013
We have arranged a visit to the Upper School in Floral Street to watch classes and rehearsals which we hope will include our 2012 RBS Award winners Annette Buvoli and Yaoqian Shang. Both are in the graduate year. Our third winner Marcelino Sambé has already joined the Company. This visit will be a joint visit with members of the London Ballet Circle.

We will watch two morning classes 9.30-11 and 11.15–12.45, one of which will be third year girls, and after a short lunch break for a snack, we will watch another session from 1.30-2.45pm. This may be a pas de deux class or a rehearsal. If a 9.30 start is a little early for you, then you are free to join us at 11am in time for the second class. Please arrive by 9.15am (or 11.10am if you would prefer to miss the first class).

The cost of the visit will be £12.50 for members and £15 for guests. If you would like to attend, please send your name, address and contact details (preferably an e-mail address), along with a cheque made payable to The Ballet Association to the Chairman, David Bain, at the address below. Places will be allocated on a first come, first serve basis. All monies collected will be donated to The Royal Ballet School to provide additional funds for students.   We will not be issuing tickets.  Your name will be placed on a list which will be held at the door. We will contact you nearer the time to inform you of your ticket number on the list.   

CHAIRMAN: David Bain
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