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March 2014 newsletter

IT IS WITH GREAT SADNESS that we announce the death of our Deputy Chairman and Membership Secretary Sylvia Tyler. Sylvia was a founder member of the Association some 41 years ago, along with her husband Shane who was our first chairman. Sylvia died on 12 February after a short illness. Fellow founder member Joan Seaman writes, “There will be many tributes in glowing terms about the great work Sylvia did for ballet and the Ballet Association in particular. My loss is a personal one. We were very close since the 70s, sharing our joys and sorrows and I shall miss her so much. We are left with an enduring memory of a fine lady.” We will miss her greatly. Our thoughts are with Shane and their family.

Since our last newsletter we have two packed meetings. In February, our former chairman Michael Foreman interviewed former Royal Ballet Principal Leanne Benjamin. Leanne spoke about all aspects of her long and illustrious career and about the design course she is currently studying. She gave members a fascinating evening. In March we welcomed Artistic Associate of the Royal Ballet and choreographer Christopher Wheeldon a few weeks before the premiere of his The Winter’s Tale. Chris gave a lively account of his training and the early years of his career, before talking about some of his work for the Royal and his new ballet. We ran out of time and hope that Chris will find time in his busy schedule to come back and talk about other aspects of his work during next season. We look forward to seeing his Winter’s Tale.

Future meetings
At our next meeting on Monday 7 April, we are delighted to welcome our Patron and Royal Ballet Director Kevin O’Hare. Kevin spoke to us two years ago, before he had taken over as Director. We look forward to discussing his first two seasons and hearing about plans for next season and the future. We are delighted that he has found time in his busy schedule to talk with us and look forward to a fascinating evening.

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.

The last two meetings of this season will be on Wednesday 28 May and 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 7.30pm 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 6.45pm. unless otherwise stated. (Please note, most Wednesday meetings are preceded by a free concert which starts at 6pm. 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.

As has been announced in previous newsletters, the Royal Ballet has welcomed Matthew Golding and Vadim Muntagirov, who have joined the Company as Principals from Dutch National Ballet and English National Ballet respectively.

Also joining the Company in recent weeks have been Teo Dubreuil and Isabella Gasparini. The son of former Sadler’s Wells/Birmingham Ballet stars Samira Saidi and Alain Dubreuil, Teo trained at the Royal Ballet School before joining English National Ballet.

Isabella danced briefly with ENB last summer in Swan Lake after six years with Northern Ballet where she became a Coryphée. From Sao Paulo in Brazil she trained at the National Ballet of Canada School and won a gold medal at the 2003 Youth America Grand Prix. We welcome all of them and wish them successful careers in the Royal.

Congratulations to Erik Woolhouse, Joseph Sissons and Nicholas Landon who were first second and third in the Young British Dancer Competition. We also congratulate Ricardo Castellanos who won the Sibley Dowell Award. Now at the Royal Ballet School, Ricardo won the Ballet Association Award at Elmhurst School for Dance in his first year there.

David Wall
There will be a service in celebration of the life of David Wall, former Principal with The Royal Ballet and teacher at English National Ballet, at St Martin-in-the-Fields on 22 May at 11.00.

If you intend to be present would you kindly notify Elizabeth Ferguson, Deputy Company Manager, The Royal Ballet,

Annual Dinner 2014
Our Annual Dinner on Tuesday 6th May was advertised in the last newsletter. Once again our dinner 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, the same as it was last year. 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. There are still a few places left for the dinner. Once full, we will place members on a waiting list.

Visit to Elmhurst School & Birmingham Royal Ballet – 4-5 June 2014
We currently have 48 members attending this annual visit to Birmingham. If you have forgotten to apply please contact committee member Brian Don on 020 8368 4419. Once full, we will place members on a waiting list.

Joint visit to The Royal Ballet Upper School – 30 April 2014
Please note, applications for this visit are now closed. Any late applications will be placed on a waiting list.

Message from Fernando Montano
We have received the following letter from Fernando.

I am writing to you as I want to ask Ballet Association members to help me to support a young Colombian Dancer. As you may know I am a Patron of Children of the Andes Charity, we help many in a small way in Colombia. This year I found out about Julian through the British Embassy in Colombia. Julian is going to go to semi-final of the Young American Grand Prix, the first time Colombia is going to have representation! He is only 15 years old. I have attached all the information about Julian so you will understand why I want to support him, also he is so talented. As he is a boy who lives in a social foundation they don't have all the money for him to go to the competition. I will send some money for him to go, but I don't have enough. So I want to ask the Ballet Association members if they could help me. Any donation will help. The competition is at the beginning of April. A shame I have just been told about him three days ago but I can see Julian has talent I want to support him.

If you would like to make a donation, please send it to Fernando at the Royal Opera House. If you would like more information about Julian, please contact our Chairman, who will forward it to you.

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