April 2014 newsletter
AT OUR FIRST MEETING in April, we were delighted to welcome our Patron, Royal Ballet Director Kevin O’Hare. This was Kevin’s first talk since taking over as Director. He talked about the highlights of his first 18 months, the rest of this season and the programme for 2014-15 which had recently been announced. He spoke about dancers who had joined the Company and the opportunities that had been given to young dancers. He highlighted the new works, looking forward to The Winter’s Tale which premiered a few days later and spoke of his plans for new choreography in the future, as well as potential revivals of heritage works. Kevin provided a very informative and entertaining evening. We are delighted that Kevin is following the pattern of his predecessor, Dame Monica Mason in talking to the Association every couple of years whilst he is Director.
At our second meeting of the month on Wednesday 30 April we welcome First Artist Francesca Hayward. Francesca was born in Nairobi and came to Sussex at the age of two. She studied at the Royal Ballet School from 2003 until 2011 when she joined the Royal Ballet. She was awarded the Lynn Seymour Prize in 2009, won the Young British Dancer competition in 2010 and both the Silver and Audience Choice awards at the Genée International Competition. In 2012 she represented the Royal Ballet at the tenth International Competition for the Erik Bruhn Prize and was promoted to First Artist in 2013. Seen recently in the lead role in Ashton’s Rhapsody and as Clara in The Nutcracker, she has had a busy first two years in the Company. Her roles have included Princess Stephanie in Mayerling. Pas de trois in Swan Lake, and pas de six in Giselle. Please note that this is a change of speaker from that advertised in the April issues of various dance magazines because of a clash of commitments. This meeting is preceded by a free concert at 6.00pm.
Next month on Wednesday 28 May we welcome Soloist James Hay. Born in Berkshire, he trained at the Linda Butler School of Dance and The Royal Ballet School. He received the Young British Dancer of the Year Award in 2006, the Lynn Seymour Award for expressive dance and was a Prix de Lausanne prizewinner in 2007. He joined the Company in 2008, was promoted to First Artist in 2011 and Soloist in 2012. His repertory includes the Fool in Prince of the Pagodas, Jester in Cinderella, Beggar Chief in Manon, Benvolio and Lead Mandolin in Romeo and Juliet. He has created roles in ballets by Liam Scarlett and Christopher Wheeldon, including Hansel in Hansel and Grettel and Aeternum and also danced at the Erik Bruhn competition in Canada with our April guest Francesca Hayward. We can expect another fascinating evening. This meeting is preceded by a free concert at 6.00pm.
The last meeting of this season will be on Thursday 19 June. Provisionally, the first dates for next season are Thursday 28 August, Thursday 11 September, Thursday 25 September, Thursday 2 October or Tuesday 14 October, Wednesday 26 November, Wednesday 17 December. Please note that these are slightly different from those quoted in the last newsletter and may be adjusted if they clash with other events. 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. (Please note, most Wednesday meetings are preceded by a free concert which starts at 6.00pm. Doors open for the meeting at 7.00pm on these occasions, though you are welcome to attend the concerts.) Entrance is £4 for members, £3 for concessions, £8 for guests.
The Royal Ballet Open Rehearsal Clore Studio, Monday 19 May 12-1.30 pm
Those of you who attended last year’s Annual Dinner will remember that our Patron Kevin O’Hare announced that the Company would like to welcome Ballet Association members to attend an open rehearsal in the Clore Studio during this season. We can now announce that this will be on Monday 19 May from 12.00 - 13.30. It is a great privilege to be invited to watch a rehearsal during the Company’s normal working day. There are 160 places for members only. These will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. If you would like to attend, please apply to our Chairman, David Bain, 23 Capstan Square, Stewart Street, London E14 3EU, enclosing a stamped addressed envelope for return of your ticket.
The Royal Ballet School Award Winners
We have received an Easter card from our award winners, Chisato Katsura and Adam Russell-Jones. They write:
Dear Ballet Association. Thank you so much for your support over this year. This term has mainly been focussed on our partnership performance with the ABT Studio Company and was enjoyed by all involved. We are now looking forward to our three weeks off and coming back well rested and prepared for the final term. Many thanks x Adam, Chisato x.
BRB Rehearsal Tuesday 3 June 2014
We have two places available to attend the rehearsal of the Company’s Darkness and Light programme on Tuesday 3 June at 7.00pm. If you would like to be put in the ballot for these tickets, please contact David Bain. The programme is Dante Sonata, Les Rendezvous, Façade. Light refreshments are provided before the performance.
The stone-setting ceremony for our Founder Member and former Membership Secretary Sylvia Tyler will be held on Tuesday October 7 at 11.15am. All those who knew Sylvia are welcome. It will be held at Edgwarebury Cemetery, Edgwarebury Lane, Edgware, Middlesex HA8 8QP. As is customary for Jewish ceremonies, there should be no flowers.
Directions to the cemetery are on its website.
Thank you to those members who sent donations to Fernando Montaño to help towards the costs of Colombian boy, Julian Mendoza, attending the Youth America Grand Prix. We have received letters of thanks from the project in Colombia that looks after Julian and from Fernando. He writes:
Please give all the people my big big thanks for helping me make this boy’s life a better one. Julian won three scholarships, two for summer schools and one at the American School for Ballet for one year. He was the smallest one in his category because of his bad nutrition. I am so pleased that we have given him the opportunity of a better life. Sorry I am overwhelmed and I am crying doing this message as I know how hard it has been for Julian. Thank you so much!! This is an article in the Colombian Times about him.
Annual Dinner Tuesday 6 May 2014
We have a handful of places left for the dinner. If you wish to make a last minute application, please contact the Chairman. As we have spaces, we will not be able to refund anyone who is unable to attend unless we can find a replacement. However, if you do have to drop out, please let us know so we don’t leave an empty space on a table. Dinner is at 8.00pm preceded by drinks which you can purchase from 7.00pm at the Rubens Hotel in Buckingham Palace Road. If you wish to purchase drinks for your meal, this can be done during the drinks reception. Dress is smart casual. We aim to start speeches at 10.15-10.30 and finish the evening around 10.45pm.
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), Sir Peter Wright (Director Laureate, Birmingham Royal Ballet), David Peden (Teacher at the Royal Ballet School and formerly senior soloist), Stage Manager Johanna Adams Farley and her husband, former Royal Ballet Principal and photographer Richard Farley, David Pickering (Education Admisistrator and Teacher and former Soloist), Royal Ballet Principals Matthew Golding and Roberta Marquez, with her husband English National Ballet Principal Arionel Vargas, First Soloists Melissa Hamilton, Bennet Gartside, Itziar Mendizabal and partner, Rambert Dance Company’s Miguel Altunaga, Soloists Christina Arestis, Olicia Cowley, Kristen McNally, Beatriz Stix-Brunell, Tom Whitehead, First Artist Pietra Mello-Pittman, Artists Luca Acri, Matthew Ball, Camille Bracher, Annette Buvoli, Reece Clarke, Teo Dubreuil, David Donnelly, Isabella Gasparini, Solomon Golding, Gina Storm-Jensen. There will be a few 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 1 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.
Visit to Museum of London
In February we arranged a repeat visit for members of the Association to the Museum of London to look at a selection of the Ballet Russes costumes that are held in storage there. The costumes, due to their age and use, are in a relatively fragile condition. We are therefore lucky to have the costumes taken out of storag for us to see. The senior curator of the Fashion and Decorative Arts department of the Museum, Beatrice Behlen, talked about the history of the collection and where these costumes had come from. Beatrice also spoke about the best way to store costumes – as the costumes are not made of wool, apparently they are less prone to moth infestation which must be a conservator's nightmare. Caroline Hamilton, a ballet costume historian, gave a fascinating and detailed commentary on the particular costumes that we were looking at as well as putting them into the context of the history of the Ballet Russes company.
We saw a number of costumes from the famous Ballet Russes production of The Sleeping Princess designed by Leon Bakst that premiered in London in 1921 and bankrupted the company by its extravagance of design. Despite being considered a failure, it is still the third longest running ballet in the history of the West End (the longest is Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake). We saw the costume for the Spanish Prince, that for the Countess in the Hunting Scene, as well as the costume for Carabosse. The latter was once worn by Enrico Cecchetti, who had created the role in the original production in St Petersburg, and who danced the role with the Ballet Russes to celebrate his 50th anniversary on the stage, and was also worn by the dancer who had played Aurora in the original production.
We also looked at the black velvet doublet worn by Vaslav Nijinsky in Les Sylphides, designed by Alexandre Benois from 1909. This was one of the first costumes where the traditional male trunks were dispensed with and where the tunic started to be shortened to better show off the line. We saw the costume used by Lubov Tchernicheva for the Miller's Wife from Le Tricorne from the Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo's version of the ballet by Massine designed by Picasso. The last highlight was a costume which had been catalogued in the 1960's sale as a corps costume for The Firebird, but which has been recently identified as the original Prince Ivan costume, worn by Fokine in the Bakst-designed 1913 version of the ballet but subsequently altered for later versions.
Members who were unfortunate enough to miss this visit may like to know that all of the costumes can be viewed on the Collection's Online facility on the Museum of London's website. For those who are interested in the Ballet Russes, Caroline Hamilton recommended a book by Lydia Sokolova called Dancing for Diaghilev where she talks in some details about the costumes that she wore for her performances.