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April/May 2013 newsletter

WE HAVE HAD JUST one meeting since our last newsletter. At our meeting on 3 April, we were due to welcome Principal Roberta Marquez and her husband, English National Ballet Principal Arionel Vargas. At 6.15pm our Chairman was relaxing in a Covent Garden Coffee Bar, when he received a phone call from Kevin O’Hare to say that Roberta was needed that evening, at very short notice, to replace an injured Alina Cojocaru for the stage rehearsal for the opening night cast of La Bayadère. It was very fortunate that Arionel was due to speak alongside Roberta and he stepped in with aplomb, appreciating the opportunity to talk of his career. He provided members with a very entertaining evening, speaking of his training in Cuba, his friendship with Carlos Acosta, dancing in Brazil and then Canada, before joining English National Ballet in 2004. He had recently danced in La Bayadère with Roberta in South America, and spoke of working with Natalia Makarova. He also talked about the film Love Tomorrow, which he made with Cindy Jourdain. Though disappointed that Roberta had been unable to attend, Arionel left the evening with a new group of fans who will follow his career. Roberta Marquez will speak at a meeting during next season.

Future meetings
We have had to cancel our meeting on 31 May, but have put in an extra meeting in July.

On Friday 7 June we are delighted to welcome First Artist Andrej Uspenski as our guest. Born in St Petersburg, Andrej trained at the Vaganova Ballet Academy and then in Dresden and Berlin. He won second prizes at the Rieti and Yalta International Ballet Competitions, before joining Royal Danish Ballet in 1999 and The Royal Ballet in 2002. He was promoted to First artist in 2004 and has danced a variety of soloist roles including Bluebird and Florestan and the King of the North in the revival last season of Prince of the Pagodas. As well as speaking about his dancing career, Andrej will also speak about his photography. His book, Dancers: Behind the Scenes at the Royal Ballet, has been published recently. We hope to display images from the book as Andrej speaks about them. We look forward to a fascinating evening.  

At an extra meeting on Tuesday 2 July, it is a special pleasure to welcome Principal Mara Galeazzi a few days after her final performance with The Royal Ballet in Manon, which takes place in Monte Carlo. Mara has been a regular guest of the Association both at meetings and at Annual Dinners and we are delighted that she has found time to meet with us prior to her move to join her husband, Jurgen, in Oman. She will look back over her career with the Company and her work for her charity, as well as looking forward. We know this is a meeting that ballet fans will not want to miss.  

Provisional dates for the start of next season are: Thursday 22 August, Wednesday 4 September, Wednesday 2 October, Thursday 17 October, Tuesday 12 November, Wednesday 27 November, Wednesday 11 December.  Although all dates are subject to change, please put these dates in your diaries.

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.

We send congratulations to Iohna Loots on the birth of her daughter Islay Grace, 3.58kg, on 8 April.

Principal Leanne Benjamin has announced her retirement from the Royal Ballet at the end of this season after 21 years in the Company. Both she, and Mara Galeazzi who, as announced in the last newsletter, is also retiring, will be presented with leaving presents from the Association at this year’s Annual Dinner. If you would like to donate towards these gifts, a collection will be held at the dinner and other meetings this season or send a cheque payable the Ballet Association to our Chairman.

Birmingham Royal Ballet has also announced that Principal Carol Ann Millar has retired after 15 years with the Company to pursue a career in teaching. Her final performance was in Coppélia in Norfolk, Virginia on the Company’s recent tour. We wish all three great success in future.

Over Easter, four Royal Ballet dancers, Melissa Hamilton, Yuhui Choe, Ryoichi Hirano and Dawid Trzensimiech performed in Northern Ireland as part of the Derry/Londonderry UK City of Culture celebrations.

Royal Ballet Choreographic Apprentice Robert Binet will choreograph the variations to be performed at the 2013 Genée International Ballet Competition in Glasgow from 20-29 September.

We send our congratulations to Marianela Nuñez and Christopher Wheeldon who won the Laurence Olivier Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Dance and Best New Dance Production ( for Aeternum) respectively. 

Alina Cojocaru – An Evening for Hospices of Hope
Sunday May 12 at 18.30 at Sadler’s Wells
Alina has gathered together an exciting array of dancers to perform at this gala. All the proceeds will go to the Bucharest Hospice Appeal. Alina has recently been to Bucharest to visit the Hospice and the National Ballet School of Romania, some of whose students will perform a fragment from Johan Kobborg’s Salute during the gala.

Visit to the Royal Ballet School
We had an extremely successful joint visit with London Ballet Circle to the Upper School in Floral Street on April 24th. After watching Third Year Girls’ and Second Year Boys’ classes with Ros Whitten and David Peden, we watched Niccy Tranah and Gary Norman rehearse the Third Years in Bejart’s Greek Dances and Ashley Page’s Larina Waltz. We thank the school enormously for making us feel very welcome.

Members may have heard the Gailene Stock, Director of the Royal Ballet School has been unwell. She is undergoing treatment for a tumour that has appeared on her brain. She is continuing to lead the School, but politely asks that people refrain from sending emails, etc to her. All contact should be made through Rachel Hollings at the School. We have sent our best wishes for a speedy and successful recovery on behalf of members of the Association.

Visit to Museum of London Ballet Russes Collection, Tuesday 28 May 2.30pm
Following the very successful outing to the Museum of London late last year to see items from their Anna Pavlova collection, we have arranged another outing for members to see some of the collection of Ballet Russes costumes that they hold in storage. The visit will be on Tuesday 28 May at 2.30pm and the cost will be £7.50.

The Museum’s Fashion and Textile collection holds a unique selection of costmues from the Ballet Russes and contains six costumes from The Sleeping Princess, including the Spanish Prince and the wicked fairy Carabosse once worn by Enrico Cecchetti. The Sleeping Princess was premiered in London and its extravagant sets and costumes bankrupt the company. The collection also holds Vaslav Nijinsky’s costume from Les Sylphides, Lubov Tchernicheva’s costume from Le Tricorne and an intriguing costume from Firebird that remained unidentified until 2010. Again Caroline Hamilton, a ballet costume historian, will talk to us about the items in concert with the department curator.

Please email Annette Fraser if you would like to join the outing.

Visit to Royal Opera House Exhibitions, June 5
We have arranged to have a guided tour of the current ballet exhibitions at the Opera House on Wed 5 June at 10.30am. We will be led round by Cristina Franchi, the curator of the exhibitions. The first part of the tour will focus on the exhibition on Nadia Nerina marking the 60th anniversary of her becoming a Principal with Sadler's Wells Ballet. The exhibition features items collected by her and donated to the Royal Opera House as well as a short film that has been commissioned of Nerina dancing along with memories by her contemporaries. The second part of the tour will look at the sketches and paintings of Isabel Rawsthorne, the artist married to Constance Lambert, featuring Royal Ballet dancers in rehearsal from the 1950s and 1960s. The outing will last about two hours and will cost £7.50.

If you are interested in attending, please email Annette Fraser.

Draft Works
In April, there were three very successful performances of Draft Works. As usual the Association made a donation towards these works.

Associate Director Jeanetta Laurence writes: “Thank you very much for the Ballet association’s generous donation of £500 to our Draft Works programme. The three performances sold out, showing the huge interest there is in The Royal Ballet’s development of new choreography. It’s wonderful to see how eager both dancers and audience are to support our creation of new work – thank you to everyone at the Association for choosing to support us through this programme. Your gift is appreciated by the dancers, the Company and everyone working at the Royal Opera House to make our productions happen. On behalf of us all, thank you to all of you.”

Annual Dinner 2013, Monday May 20
Unusually there are still some places available for this year’s Annual Dinner which celebrates the 40th Anniversary of the Association as well as our Patron Kevin O’Hare’s first season as Director of The Royal Ballet. If you would like to apply, or bring a guest, please contact the Chairman by e-mail or phone and he will send you an application form.

Unfortunately, one consequence of still having places is that we will not be able to reimburse anyone who drops out of the dinner after 1 May, unless you or we find a replacement.

As always, we have a very exciting guest list at this year’s dinner. This includes:- our Patron Kevin O’Hare (Director of The Royal Ballet), Associate Director Jeanetta Laurence, our Presidents Jonathan Cope (Répétiteur), Dame Monica Mason (Former Director of The Royal Ballet), Robert Parker (Artistic Director of Elmhurst School for Dance), Christopher Saunders (Ballet Master and Principal Character Artist), Ballet Mistress Samantha Raine, Stage Manager Johanna Adams Farley and her husband, former Royal Ballet Principal and photographer Richard Farley, Royal Ballet Principals Leanne Benjamin, Mara Galeazzi and Roberta Marquez, English National Ballet Principal Arionel Vargas, Principal Character Artist Elizabeth McGorian, First Soloists Deirdre Chapman, Yuhui Choe, Ryoichi Hirano, Soloists Claire Calvert, Laura McCulloch, Eric Underwood, First Artist Nathalie Harrison, Erico Montes, Romany Pajdak and Andrej Uspenski, Artists Nicol Edmonds, Elsa Godard, Tierney Heap, Mayara Magri, Tomas Mock, Gemma Pitchley-Gale, Anna Rose O’Sullivan, Marcelino Sambé, Donald Thom. We are delighted that our Founder Chairman Shane Tyler is also able to attend. There will be two or three others, but they haven’t confirmed in time to be included in this newsletter. If you have a preference for whose table you would like to be on, please let David Bain know by 13 May.  We cannot guarantee to be able to meet everyone’s requests. We will do our best, but only if you give us at least three alternatives. 

As usual, we will have photographs taken of the guests on each table during the evening. Our authorised photographer will be our member, Janet Radenkovic. The photos will be available for members to purchase at a future meeting and some will be placed on our website.  As in the past we are happy to allow members to take their own photos at the end of the meal.  If you bring a camera, please refrain from taking photos until after the speeches and only take photos of those members and dancers who were on your table.  In that way, we can ensure that no dancer has to put up with excessive requests to be photographed and that opportunities for others to talk with dancers are not interrupted.

CHAIRMAN: David Bain
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Tel: 020 7515 1254 Mobile: 07855 823921