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August 2014 newsletter

SINCE THE LAST NEWSLETTER the companies have been on their summer break, although many have been performing around the world. For example, a group of Royal Ballet and English National Ballet dancers joined Fernando Montaño in a programme to celebrate the re-opening of the Cristobal Colon Theatre in Bogota, the second oldest opera house in South America. With Fernando were Royal Ballet dancers Roberta Marquez, Valentino Zucchetti, Claire Calvert, Yasmine Naghdi and Mayara Magri and ENB dancers Elena Glurdjidze, Arionel Vargas, Katja Khaniukova and Joan Sebastian Zamora.

There was no Association meeting in July.

Future meetings
At our first meeting after the holidays on Thursday 28 August, we are delighted to welcome First Soloist Melissa Hamilton as our guest, a few weeks before her debut as Manon. Born in Belfast, Melissa was brought up in Dromore, County Down. At the age of 16 she moved to Elmhurst School for Dance for a year before moving to Athens for private coaching with Masha Mukhamedov. She won the Youth America Grand Prix in 2007 and soon after joined the Royal Ballet. She was promoted to First Soloist in 2013. In the same year she was part of a Royal Ballet Group that performed in Derry as part of its celebrations as UK City of Culture. As well as creating roles in many of Wayne McGregor’s ballets, Melissa’s other roles include Mary Vetsera, Juliet, Sugar Plum and Lilac Fairy and, most recently, in The Concert. Melissa last spoke to the Association three years ago, since when she has danced many different roles. She will, as always, provide us with a very entertaining evening.
On Thursday 11 September we have our annual meeting where two of the younger members of the Company not only talk to us about their training and careers, but also tell us about the end of season tour to Moscow, Taipei and Shanghai. This year it is a pleasure to welcome two former Royal Ballet School Association Award winners, Annette Buvoli and Reece Clarke.

With Italian parents, Annette comes from Boulder, Colorado, where she trained before joining the Royal Ballet Upper School a year early. She won the Association’s Award in 2012 when in her First Year at the School and moved directly into the third year before joining the Royal Ballet at the start of last season. In her graduation performance she danced the lead role in Mark Annear’s La Destinée.

The youngest of four brothers from Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, who all attended the Royal Ballet School, Reece won the Association’s Award in 2013 at the end of his second year at the Upper School, and joined the Royal Ballet last December part way through his third year. He returned for the recent School Matinée to partner fellow award winner, second year student Chisato Katsura in Raymonda Act III. Annette spoke to us whilst a student, but Reece was unable to do so last season, as he had already joined the Company and was required for a stage call. These meetings with young dancers are always a very entertaining start to our season. So attendance can be highly recommended.

The meeting scheduled for 25 September has been cancelled as it clashes with a special event organised by the British Friends of Ballet Nacional de Cuba to which Ballet Association members are invited. Details of this film show with choreographer Annabelle Lopez-Ochoa are later in this newsletter.

At our meeting on Thursday 2 October we are very privileged to welcome Sir Peter Wright as our guest. Director Laureate of Birmingham Royal Ballet, Peter obviously needs no introduction. His illustrious career started as a professional dancer with Ballets Jooss during World War II and in the 1950s he appeared with several companies including Sadler’s Wells Theatre Ballet. In 1961 he went to Stuttgart as Teacher and Ballet Master to the company being formed by John Cranko, where he choreographed several ballets and mounted his first production of Giselle. His productions of the classics now feature regularly in opera houses throughout the world. In 1969 he returned to The Royal Ballet as Associate to the Directors. In 1977 he was appointed director of Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet, taking the company to Birmingham in 1990 and becoming Director Laureate on his retirement in 1995. Peter has won many awards including a knighthood in 1993. He is President of the Benesh Institute and a Vice-President of the Royal academy of Dance. Peter will talk about some of the highlights of his career in what will be a very interesting evening.

Provisionally, the dates for the rest of next season are Friday 21 November (this meeting will be preceded by our AGM), Tuesday 9 December, Tuesday 13 January, Wednesday 25 February, Wednesday 11 March, Wednesday 1 April, Wednesday 15 April, Wednesday 6 May, Wednesday 27 May, Wednesday 10 June. 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 7pm on these occasions, though you are welcome to attend the concerts.) Entrance is £4 for members, £3 for concessions, £8 for guests.

British Friends of Ballet Nacional de Cuba - Celeste
Film Show and interview with choreographer Annabelle López Ochoa at 7pm, Thursday 25 September at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, 235 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8EP

The British Friends of Ballet Nacional de Cuba are delighted to announce that Annabelle López Ochoa, choreographer of Celeste for Ballet Nacional de Cuba, will be in London on Thursday 25 September to talk about her career and the work which the British Friends commissioned. As well as interviewing Annabelle, a short documentary about the making of the ballet, which includes some rehearsal footage, and then a film of the first night performance will be shown. Ballet Association members may have seen her Streetcar Named Desire for Scottish Ballet, for which she won the Best Classical Choreography Award sponsored by the Association at the 2012 National Dance Awards.

All Ballet Association members are invited to this event which should provide a fascinating evening.
N.B. Please note the earlier start time of 7pm as the meeting will last just under two hours. Entrance to this meeting is free. However, a collection will be held during the evening to cover the costs of the event and a contribution towards their next choreographic project. They suggest a minimum donation of £10 each.

Steven McRae: Dancer in the Fast Lane by Andrej Uspenski
Steven McRae – Dancer in the Fast Lane gives a close up look at the ballet and dance world's newest, flame-haired star. Born and raised in the world of Australia's high octane, drag-racing circuit, Steven effortlessly moves between the sophistication of his interpretations of the greatest ballet roles as a Principal of The Royal Ballet, to full throttle blasts of tap. Once again photographer Andrej Uspenski has used his exclusive vantage point as a First Artist with The Royal Ballet to give us glimpses of a dancer becoming a true dance supernova.

"Steven McRae is the most dazzling virtuoso dancer the Royal Ballet has ever shown us. For his clarity of statement, muscular resource, insouciant brilliancy, there is no national precedent." Clement Crisp, Financial Times

Ballet Association members can get 40% off Steven McRae: Dancer in the Fast Lane with the following discount code: OnBallet. Simply enter the code when you check out:

Special Price: £10.19 (RRP: £16.99) | ISBN: 9781783190881

You can also use ‘OnBallet’ to claim 40% off two other titles by Andrej Uspenski: Dancers: Behind the Scenes with The Royal Ballet and Natalia Osipova: Becoming a Swan.

Royal Ballet School Ballet Association Award Winners
Ana Carlsen, Development and Publicity Coordinator, of the Royal Ballet School writes:

“As another academic year at The Royal Ballet School ended on a high with our Summer Matinée at the Royal Opera House and Graduation Ceremony last Saturday, and the students return to their families for a well-earned rest and summer holiday, I am delighted to give you a short report on your students, Chisato Katsura and Adam Russell Jones:

Report from Chisato Katsura's Ballet Teacher: Chisato is a lovely, intelligent young lady and despite having a back injury at the beginning of the year has overcome this and blossomed. Chisato is a beautiful classical dancer and also a great actress, she has the ability to move you, as we saw in the Lynne Seymour award where she danced the solo Isadora by Kenneth MacMillan. I was delighted to see her chosen to dance the lead role in Raymonda for The Royal Ballet School Matinée on the main stage of the Royal Opera House which showcased all her wonderful qualities. I look forward to following Chisato’s career with interest. Rosalyn Whitten

Chisato received several mentions in the reviews we have received to date for example Maggie Foyer’s piece about the Linbury Performance for Critical Dance:

The closing work, excerpts from Raymonda Act III, offered as well a string of solo variations. Chisato Katsura showed her ballerina potential in a role that demands at least as much artistry as technique. Poised, with elegant épaulement and placing each foot with precision, she led the field. Full review

And Bruce Marriott’s review of the Royal Opera House Matinée for DanceTabs:

Katsura, from Osaka, has been much mentioned and is astonishingly well-finished already with terrific definition to her movement and strong musicality. Seemingly perfectly proportioned, with a dark allure, she has it all, and a lot of companies will be interested. The last time somebody struck me this strongly was 10 years ago when Nutnaree Pipithsuksunt (now Ommi Pipit-Suksun) was taken straight into San Francisco Ballet at soloist level. Full review

Report from Adam Russell-Jones’s Ballet Teacher: What a pleasure it has been to teach and work with Adam in his Graduate year at The Royal Ballet School. His admirable commitment and dedication to his dancing has resulted in excellent improvement in his dancing. I have been particularly impressed with the respect he shows his peers and teachers which endears him to everyone he works with and will stand him in good stead for his professional career and life in general. All these attributes have been recognised with his contract with Stuttgart Ballet and I know Adam will relish this opportunity and make the most of his well-deserved start to a professional career. His ability to learn quickly will also favour him well with future Company Directors and help his progression through the ranks. I know Adam will work extremely hard in his career and I wish him great success for the future. Gary Norman

Adam dances a number of key roles in The Royal Ballet School Summer Performances and Maggie Foyer also picked him out in her review of the Linbury Performance for Critical Dance:

For the seniors Mark Annear choreographed Vivace, a fiendishly difficult work. The intricate pointe work for the females and the fast and furious allegro challenged on all counts. Adam Russell-Jones, who will be joining Stuttgart Ballet next season, was outstanding; dancing with the speed and precision of a young Steven MacRae. Full review

I am delighted to say that both Chisato’s and Adam’s artistry was recognised at the Graduation Ceremony following the Royal Opera House Matinée when Chisato was awarded the Gailene Stock Prize for a Promising Student and Adam jointly received the De Valois Award for most Outstanding Graduate Student with Calvin Richardson.

I look forward to keeping you updated on the progress of the 2014 Ballet Association Award Recipients, Kiely Groenwegen, Grace Robinson and Harry Churches next year. In the meantime, I would like to wish you a lovely summer break.

We also received a card from Chisato and Adam:

Members will be delighted to hear that Mara Galeazzi will be returning as Principal Guest Artist to perform in Ludovic Ondiviela’s Cassandra in the Linbury Theatre this October/November.

We are very pleased to announce that Liz Atkins has been co-opted to our committee as Acting Membership Secretary and will stand for election to the post at our AGM.

As announced previously, the stone-setting ceremony for one of our Founders 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. Sylvia’s son Kieron has written to inform us that, as is the Jewish custom, there will be no post-ceremony gathering. “However, it would be good to gather beforehand so the Rabbi can address us all in the prayer hall. With that in mind, please aim to be at the cemetery for 10.45 on 7 Oct.” Directions to the cemetery are on its website: Cabs are available from Edgware tube station and there is plenty of parking at the cemetery.

It is the time of year when we ask you to renew your membership. Please return the renewal form to Liz Atkins, Acting Membership Secretary, as soon as possible, but not later than the end of October. As Liz has prior commitments during October and the early part of November, we would be grateful if you renewed as early as possible. Renewals received during October will not be processed until mid-November.

As agreed at our last AGM, the fee for concessionary members has risen to £10, whilst that for ordinary members remains at £15, and £22.50 for joint membership of two-ordinary members at the same address. If you joined the Association after the start of April 2014, your membership covers this coming season. Your membership card will have indicated this.

If you have an email address, please consider receiving the newsletter by email in future. If you would prefer to pay by electronic transfer, please indicate on the form and Liz will get in touch with you with our bank details. Please still send a copy of the form to her by post with a stamped addressed envelope for return of your membership card. If you have a friend who you think might be interested in joining the Association, please give them a copy of the form.

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