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February 2014 newsletter

AT OUR FIRST MEETING of 2014, we welcomed Royal Ballet School teacher Anita Young and our 2013 Royal Ballet School Award winners Chisato Katsura and Adam Russell-Jones. They gave us a very entertaining evening with Anita speaking about her career, working with many famous choreographers, including Jerome Robbins and Anthony Tudor. She also gave us an interesting account of the changes at the Royal Ballet School since she was a student. Together with the students, she spoke about aspects of the Upper School curriculum, including the Young British Dancer competition, the Lynn Seymour Award for Expressive Dance and the Ursula Moreton Choreographic Award. Adam also spoke of his experiences at Elmhurst and ENB schools and Chisato about the transition from training in Japan to White Lodge. It was a fascinating evening. Unfortunately Reece Clarke, our third Award winner, who has now joined the Royal Ballet, was unable to attend as he had a stage call for the Rhapsody programme. We hope that Reece will come to talk to the Association later in the year.

Future meetings
The guest at our next meeting on Thursday 20 February will be former Royal Ballet Principal Leanne Benjamin. Born in Australia, after a lengthy and illustrious career dancing with Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet, English National Ballet and Deutsche Oper Berlin as well as the Royal, Leanne retired last summer. Her repertoire has been extensive, including all the classics. Throughout her career she has created roles in new works by, amongst others, Twyla Tharp, Ashley Page, Alastair Marriott, Christopher Wheeldon and Wayne McGregor, but it will be her performances in many of Kenneth MacMillan’s ballets for which she will be most fondly remembered. We look forward to reminiscing with her and hearing about her plans for the future.

We are delighted to announce that our guest on Monday 17 March will be choreographer Christopher Wheeldon. Christopher trained at the Royal Ballet School and joined the Royal Ballet in 1991 having won the Gold Medal at Prix de Lausanne. In 1993 he joined New York City Ballet, where he was promoted to Soloist in 1998. His first choreography there was Slavonic dances in 1997. In 2000 he retired from dancing to concentrate on choreography and became NYCB’s first Artist in Residence. In 2007 he founded Morphoses/ The Wheeldon Company and in 2012 became Artistic Associate with The Royal Ballet. He has choreographed for many companies around the world, including The Sleeping Beauty for The Royal Danish Ballet, Cinderella for The Dutch National Ballet and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for The Royal Ballet. We are delighted that Chris has found time in his busy schedule, whilst choreographing The Winter’s Tale, to come and talk to the Association. We can expect a very interesting evening.

We have had to make changes to our meeting dates from April to June because of clashes with other events. The meetings on Wednesday 2 April, Thursday 24 April, Thursday 22 May and Wednesday 11 June have been cancelled and replaced by these new dates: Monday 7 April, Wednesday 30 April, Wednesday 28 May, Thursday 19 June. Provisionally, the first dates for next season are Thursday 28 August, Thursday 11 September, Thursday 25 September, Thursday 9 October. These may be adjusted once the Company announces next season’s performances. 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. Entrance is £4 for members, £3 for concessions, £8 for guests.

At our first committee meeting since our AGM, David Bain and Sylvia Tyler were re-elected as Chairman and Deputy Chairman respectively. Unfortunately Sylvia is currently unwell and has had to step down as Membership Secretary. We have had a couple of volunteers from the membership to take over the role. However, until a final decision is made about this, our Chairman will deal with all membership issues. We apologise in advance if this leads to any hiccups in the delivery of newsletters, etc. We hope to have a new Membership Secretary in place before the end of the season.

Former Royal Ballet Soloist Peter O’Brien died in New York on 1 January. Peter joined The Royal Ballet in 1962 from the Royal Ballet School and later danced with SWRB, before retiring to teach. He moved to New York in 2005 where he taught, including at Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre Company.

Members will have heard that Dawid Trzensimiech has resigned from The Royal Ballet and will join the National Romanian Ballet in Bucharest where former Principal Johan Kobborg has taken up the role of Artistic Director.

It has been a idnnounced that Vadim Muntagirov, currently Lead Principal with English National Ballet, is joining The Royal Ballet as a Principal. His first performance at the Royal will be partnering Akane Takada in The Sleeping Beauty on 25 March. He will also dance in The Winter’s Tale.

National Dance Awards
The Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards for 2013 took place on Monday 27 April. The Best Classical Choreography Award, sponsored by The Ballet Association, was presented by our Chairman to Christopher Wheeldon for Aeturnum by The Royal Ballet. Natalia Osipova won the Award for Best Female Dancer for her performances whilst with the Mikhailovsky Ballet and Leanne Benjamin the De Valois Award for Outstanding Achievement. We congratulate them all and also Stephen McRae who was awarded Young Australian achiever of the Year in the UK.

Visit to the Royal Ballet Upper School, Wednesday 30 April, 9.15am - 2.45pm
Once again, we have arranged a visit to the Upper School in Floral Street to watch classes and rehearsals which we hope will include our 2013 RBS Award winners Chisato Katsura and Adam Russell-Jones. Chisato is in the Second Year and Adam the Third Year. This visit will be a joint visit with members of London Ballet Circle.

We will watch two morning classes 9.30 - 11.00 and 11.15 – 12.45 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 11.00am 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) to the Chairman, David Bain, at 23 Capstan Square, Stewart Street, London E14 3EU. Please enclose a cheque made payable to The Ballet Association. 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.

Annual Dinner 2014
Our Annual Dinner on Tuesday 6th May was advertised in the last newsletter. Unfortunately, in discussion with the hotel, we have had to make some adjustments to the menu. If you have already sent in your application and wish to adjust your menu choices, please send a new form to Melanie Shipton. If we don’t hear from you, we will assume your choices are a direct swap from the previous menu. Those of you who receive your newsletter by email have already been notified of these changes.

Once again our dinner will take place at the Rubens Hotel in Buckingham Palace Road. Dinner is at 8.00pm. A private bar is available from 7.00pm. The cost this year will be £39, the same as it was last year. We have already had a heavy demand for tickets, so early application is advised. As in recent years, the dinner will be open to members only in the first instance. If there are still vacancies at the end of February, we will open it up to members’ guests. There will be about 145 places for members and 35 for an exciting array of dancers of all ranks, Company management, etc. We will not be announcing the guest list until the middle of April. You will then have an opportunity to let us know which dancers you would like to sit near.

Visit to Elmhurst School for Dance and Birmingham Royal Ballet, 4-5 June 2014
Our annual visit to Birmingham was advertised in the last newsletter. This visit is always very popular. If you are interested in attending, please apply quickly as most places have now been taken. On the first day we will attend BRB class, have lunch together, have an interview of a BRB dancer and watch a performance of their Ashton programme, Darkness and Light, which includes Dante Sonata, Les Rendezvous and Façade.

On the Thursday, following breakfast, we will arrange transportation from the IBIS Hotel to 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 3.30 pm.

Additional nights in the hotel can be booked for the same price as our discounted rate. If you have lost your form, or need any other information, please contact committee member Brian Don on 020 8368 4419.

Fernando Montano
Fernando has asked us to advertise the premiere of his short dance film Narcissus. This is being performed at the Hippodrome Casino on Sunday 9 February. For information, go to the Hippodrome Casino website.

British Friends of Ballet Nacional de Cuba
Our Chairman is also the Chairman of the British Friends of Ballet Nacional de Cuba. The British Friends have commissioned a new ballet by award winning choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, who choreographed A Streetcar Named Desire for Scottish Ballet when Ashley Page was Director. Her new work will be premiered on the 7 March in Havana. If you are interested in finding out more about the British Friends, please contact Janet Radenkovic at or write to David Bain. A group of Friends will be attending the 24th International Ballet Festival in Havana, which takes places from 28 October until 7 November. New Friends would be welcome to join the group.

CHAIRMAN: David Bain
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