PRINT (requires Adobe Reader)

March 2013 newsletter

SINCE OUR LAST NEWSLETTER we have had a couple of meetings. At our February meeting, members were delighted to hear from First Soloist, Alexander Campbell. Interviewed by Deputy Chairman Sylvia Tyler, Alex spoke of his training in Australia and at the Royal Ballet School, his career at Birmingham Royal Ballet and his move to the Royal Ballet. He provided a very entertaining evening with anecdotes from both companies. Members will be interested to follow his career in future seasons and look forward to hearing from him again and a few seasons time.

At our packed March meeting, we welcomed our President Jonathan Cope and Principal Character Artist Elizabeth McGorian. This was a very special meeting, as Elizabeth had not spoken to the Association since early in her career. After speaking of her early training in Zimbabwe and being spotted by Desmond Kelly and Dame Merle Park, she spoke of her move to the Royal Ballet School and her transition into the Company. Both Jonny and Elizabeth talked about working with Sir Frederick Ashton and Sir Kenneth MacMillan and how different everything was now. Elizabeth picked out some of the highlights of her career, including recent performances in La Sylphide and Las Hermanas, whilst Jonny talked about the coaching of principals, as well as his experiences in last summer’s Olympics. As was expected, they provided a very entertaining evening with many hilarious anecdotes. As there were many aspects of their careers we didn’t cover, we can look forward to their being our guests again not too far in the future.

Future meetings
Please note: There has been a change of meeting dates. The meetings on Wednesday 20 March and Thursday 18 April have been cancelled as they clash with the opening nights of BRB and ENB respectively at the London Coliseum.

The next meeting will now be on Wednesday 3 April. Once again we are delighted to welcome a double act, with Principal Roberta Marquez accompanied by her husband, English National Ballet Principal Arionel Vargas. Speaking just before her performances as Nikiya in La Bayadère, Roberta will talk about her career, including recent performances of In the Night with Carlos Acosta, the Closing Ceremony of the Paralympics, Royal Ballet performances in Rio earlier this month and guesting with Tetsuya Kumakawa in Japan. She will also speak about her earlier career and being coached by Tatiana Leskova.  Arionel will talk about his training in Cuba and dancing with Royal Winnipeg Ballet and ENB, dancing with Evelyn Hart and Carlos Acosta and starring in Love Tomorrow with former Royal Ballet dancer Cindy Jourdain. As this meeting is on a Wednesday evening it will be preceded in the venue by one of the Church’s Free Concerts. If you wish to attend the concert please arrive before 6pm. If not, please do not arrive before 7pm. If you do arrive during the concert, please wait in silence in the foyer.

Provisional dates for the rest of the season are: Friday 31 May, Friday 7 June. All dates are subject to change. Meetings, unless otherwise stated, begin at 7.30pm 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 6.45pm unless otherwise stated. Entrance is £4 for members, £3 for concessions, £8 for guests.

Joan Seaman, for long our Membership Secretary and tireless worker for the Association, celebrated her 90th birthday in February and received floral tributes and many messages from her friends in the ballet world.

As members are aware, Tony Hall has now left the Royal Opera House to take up his post at the BBC. We wish him great success in his new job. Director of Finance, Sally O’Neill, became Interim Chief Executive on 11 March.

Jonathan Watkins has left the Royal Ballet to follow a career as a freelance choreographer. His last performance was in La Valse on 23 February. He used Twitter to thank the Association for our card and small gift on his retirement from the Company. We wish him great success in his future career
Mara Galeazzi has also announced her plan to retire at the end of this season in order to move to Oman where her husband Jurgen works. If you would like to donate towards a present for Mara, please do so at the next meeting or send a cheque payable to The Ballet Association.

Members will be saddened to hear of the deaths Keith Gray and Noreen Sopwith. Keith was formerly Senior Stage Manager with the Royal Ballet, before ill-health led to his retirement. His funeral is at 3.20pm on 19 March at Mortlake Crematorium. No flowers please. Noreen danced with the Sadler’s Wells Ballet from 1947 for five years, then as a principal with Rambert for five years. In 1957 she joined the corps of the Royal Ballet. A tiny dancer, she performed a variety of solos within the repertoire. Aged 80, she died in hospital at the beginning of March.

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 Brazil in 1945. She staged Leonide Massine’s Choréartium for Birmingham Royal Ballet in 1991 and his Les Présages for many companies. It is a very good read and mentions Roberta Marquez as one of the last dancers she worked with regularly in Brazil. Published by Quartet Books, it is written by Brazilian journalist Suzana Braga.

Another fascinating read recently published is the Agony and Ecstasy: My Life in Dance, the Autobiography of ENB Principal Daria Klimentova written in collaboration with Ballet Association member Graham Watts. Graham is currently Chairman of the Dance Section of the Critics’ Circle in the UK. Daria needs no introduction to members. Born in the former Czechoslovakia, she joined ENB in 1996, having formerly danced with Scottish Ballet. This book is published by Metro.

During the mid-season break, the Royal Ballet and Royal Opera performed galas in Rio de Janeiro and a Memorandum of Agreement was signed between the Teatro Municipal and the Royal Opera House to work together over the next four, especially through education projects with disadvantaged groups. Brazilians Roberta Marquez and Thiago Soares, along with partners Marianela Nuñez and Steven McRae, received enthusiastic ovations from their home crowds. We hope to hear more of this at a future meeting.   

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 we will arrange transportation from the hotel to Elmhurst School for Dance. Our President Robert Parker will be our host for the day. 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. If you have yet to book a place, but wish to do so, please contact Brian Don on 020 8368 4419 immediately, as places for the performance and hotel have to be confirmed by the end of the month.

Visit to the Royal Ballet School, 24 April 2013
If you applied for this visit, you will receive an e-mail or phone call from our Chairman giving you your number on the list held at the door. Please quote this when you arrive. If you do not hear from the Chairman by the end of March, please contact him, in case your application was lost in the post.

Annual Dinner 2013
We also remind you that our Annual Dinner will be on Monday 20th May. 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. There are a few places left. If you have lost your application form, please contact the Chairman by email or phone and he will send you another one. If you wish to bring a guest to the dinner, you may now apply to do so.

CHAIRMAN: David Bain, 23 Capstan Square, Stewart Street, London E14 3EU
Tel: 020 7515 1254 Mobile: 07855 823921     
Email: or