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November/December 2014 newsletter

IN OCTOBER we were very privileged to welcome Sir Peter Wright as our guest. He spoke entertainingly about the early years of his career and how he ran away from school and became an apprentice with Ballet Jooss, his training with Volkova, and work in musicals. Then followed time with Metropolitan Ballet, St James Ballet, Finian’s Rainbow, and his two periods with Sadler’s Wells Theatre Ballet, in between which he returned to Ballet Jooss. He met his future wife Sonya Hana when dancing with John Cranko’s group to save the Kenton Theatre. In 1955 he started Sadler’s Wells Opera Ballet and created his first Ballet at Covent Garden for the Touring Company during the 1957-58 season. It was that season that he started a long association with Margaret Dale to bring ballet to television. In 1960 he joined John Cranko as Ballet Master in Stuttgart where he did a new production of Giselle. Peter left us wanting more! So we hope to invite him back to cover the next 50 years of his career!

Following our AGM in November, we were delighted to welcome Jeanetta Laurence as our guest during her final season as Associate Director of the Royal Ballet. After speaking briefly about retiring from dancing and co-founding Dance Directory, then working as an assistant to Gillian Lynne in the West End, Jeanetta talked of what will be 25 years at Covent Garden in the Senior Management Team, first as an Assistant to the Director Sir Anthony Dowell. She spoke of how her role had developed over time working with four very different directors and gave us a fascinating account of the many aspects involved in the management of the Company. She intends continuing her involvement with the Ashton and Benesh Foundations. Jeanetta has been very supportive of the Association during these 25 years and we look forward to marking her retirement at our Annual Dinner.

Future meetings
At our meeting on Tuesday 9 December we are delighted to welcome Royal Ballet Principal Roberta Marquez. Members will remember that Roberta had been coming to talk to us in the Spring of 2013 but had to pull out at the last moment due to another principal being injured for a stage call that evening. Finding another date in her busy schedule has proved difficult. She has recently returned from dancing a new production of Carmen with Tetsuya Kumakawa in Japan and is currently performing Kitri in Don Quixote. She danced Manon earlier this season and participated in Fernando Montano’s galas in Colombia in the summer amongst many other guest appearances around the world.

At our first meeting of 2015 on Tuesday 13 January, we have our annual opportunity to meet with the Association’s Royal Ballet School Award Winners. The 2014 recipients, Kiely Groenewegan now in her second year and Grace Robinson and Harry Churches, both in the graduate year, are all Australian. They will be accompanied by the School’s new Artistic Director Christopher Powney. This will be our first opportunity to hear of Christopher’s plans for the School. After a career dancing with Northern Ballet, English National Ballet and Rambert Dance Company, Christopher joined the Royal Ballet Upper School as a teacher in 2000. In 2006 he became the graduate teacher at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague, before becoming Artistic Director of the Dutch National Ballet Academy in 2010. This annual meeting is always popular and entertaining.

Provisionally, the dates for the rest of next season are Friday 6 February, Wednesday 11 March, Wednesday 15 April, Wednesday 6 May, Wednesday 27 May, Wednesday 10 June. Please note that these may be adjusted if they clash with other events – the February date has changed from 25 to 6, as the previous date clashes with the Royal Opera House Gala. The 1 April has been cancelled because of an Ashton Insight.

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 6pm. 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.

Birmingham Royal Ballet has announced that their Chief Executive Christopher Barron will leave at the end of this season. In addition to those already announced, Laëtitia Lo Sarda has left to enjoy motherhood after 17 years with the Company. Nikita Ruhl and Mariko Sasaki also left after completing one year on maternity cover contracts. Congratulations to Principal Iain Mackay and former Soloist Silvia Jimenez on the birth of their second child Alexander and to Kit Holder and Celine Gittens who married this summer, as did Callie Roberts who has moved to London. Birmingham Royal Ballet has been awarded the prestigious Gold Award by Investors in People in recognition of its open and supportive working practices. On 15 June David Bintley stepped down as Artistic Director of the National Ballet of Japan. 2015 will mark his 20th year as Director of BRB and he has been awarded an honorary degree by the University of Wolverhampton.

Members present at the performance of Kim Brandstrup’s Ceremony of Innocence on Monday 17 November may have realised from the amount of flowers presented that this was Deirdre Chapman’s final performance with the Company. Deirdre joined the Royal Ballet in 2002 after six years with San Francisco Ballet and four at Rambert. We wish her all the best for the future. Ludovic Ondiviela, who took a year’s absence to choreograph Cassandra seen in the Linbury recently to much critical acclaim has also left the Company to concentrate on choreography. We wish him great success in this. As both have been in the Company for more than ten years we have given them a gift from the Association and will inform you what they have chosen in a subsequent newsletter.

The Royal Ballet has announced that Barry Wordsworth will retire as Music Director later this season, but will continue his 42 year association with the Royal Ballet Companies as Principal Guest Conductor. He was Music Director for The Royal for 13 years in total over two separate occasions. He was recently appointed Music Director Laureate at Birmingham Royal Ballet. He is to be replaced as Music Director by Koen Kessels who currently fills this role in Birmingham.

Members are reminded that the BBC’s Young Dancer Competition 2015 will take place at Sadler’s Wells at 6.15pm on Saturday 9 May. Although few seats are now available, as with other competitions, more seats may become available nearer the date as the final approaches. Members are also reminded that the Ann Maguire Gala, organised by her daughter, Royal Ballet Soloist Emma Maguire, is also at Sadler’s Wells on Sunday 22 March, with proceeds going to the charity set up in Ann’s name to fund Arts Education.

Members will be saddened to hear of the death of one of our earliest members, Denis Lishman. He dies on the 1 November, three weeks before his 92nd birthday.

Irina Baronova
The Royal Academy of Dance is hosting the London book launch of Irina Baronova and the Ballet Russes on Wednesday 10 December from 7-8.30pm at the RAD Headquarters, 36 Battersea Square, London, SW11 3RA. Victoria Tennant, actress and daughter of prima ballerina Irina Baronova is launching a new book on her late mother in conversation with Jane Pritchard and will show some previously unseen film footage. Tickets can be obtained at £12 when you quote BA12. The ticket includes a glass of wine and a chance to buy a signed copy of the book at the discounted price of £30 (RRP £38). To book your place, contact Sarah-Jane Lewis at or call 020 7326 8051.

Annual General Meeting
At our Annual General Meeting the current committee were re-elected: David Bain ( Organising Secretary), Liz Atkins ( Membership Secretary), Melanie Shipton (Treasurer), Liz Bouttell (Reporting Secretary), Rachel Holland, Geoffrey Griffiths, Chris Scott, Brian Don, Annette Fraser, Chiara Gorodesky, Richard Griffiths and Roger Handley. At the first Committee meeting following the AGM David Bain was re-appointed Chairman and Chris Scott as Deputy Chairman.

A reminder that your membership renewal was due by the end of October. Those who receive their newsletters by post and have yet to renew will find another renewal form enclosed. Those who receive newsletters by e-mail will be contacted. This will be the last newsletter you receive unless you renew your membership

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. We are particularly interested in increasing the proportion of members of working age.

Annual Dinner 2015
A date for your diary. Provisionally our Annual Dinner will be on Monday 20 April.

Matthew Bourne at Danceworks
Danceworks presents ‘An evening with Matthew Bourne, In Conversation’ on Monday 15 December at 7.15 – 8.45pm at their Mayfair headquarters, 16 Balderton St. The entrance of £15 (£12 concessions) includes a glass of wine and can be booked by phone 020 7629 6183 or online at their website.

Guidance for Ballet Association members regarding school visits
The Association has adopted the same guidance as London Ballet Circle for members when attending school visits. This is based on the guidance issued by the Royal Ballet School and is published below.

Members are also reminded that you should refrain from commenting on social media sites during and after normal meetings about the content of what speakers tell us. Speakers are often very open about what they tell us, but do so with the understanding that they can edit the reports of the meeting which we produce. To ensure this openness continues, please do not tweet, etc.

Guidance for Members on school visits

The ballet schools we visit and their students benefit from the support and generosity of our Members. The schools welcome the interest shown by our Members and are very willing to provide a number of opportunities for our Members to watch students in performance or in class and to meet them informally during the visit within the boundaries set by Safeguarding and Child Protection legislation and requirements.

For these positive reasons we have felt it important to devise guidelines for Members regarding visits to schools and Members' communication with students and would ask that the following are adhered to at all times:

  1. Please only engage in conversation with students in the public meeting areas. Between classes students will be rushing from one class to another and so we ask that Members refrain from stopping students in corridors or on the stairs.
  2. No photography or filming should take place during the visit. We also ask that you refrain from comment during and after the visit on social media sites such as Twitter or Facebook.
  3. To protect members from any accusations of inappropriate behaviour as well as to safeguard students we suggest that:

    1. There be no direct personal communication with students by any means (including text, social media, phone, letter or email), instead this should be made through the schools development office or equivalent. Members should not give their personal contact details to students.
    2. Members do not send gifts to students, however if the Member wishes to send a student a card following a performance this should again be sent to the schools’ development office or equivalent and not to the student directly.
    3. Members should not arrange to entertain students outside the school.

  4. If at any time a Member has any concern about the welfare of a student, they should advise the school immediately.

We thank you for your co-operation.

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