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September/October 2014 newsletter

WE HAVE STARTED THE SEASON with two very entertaining evenings. At our August meeting it was a delight to welcome First Soloist Melissa Hamilton as our guest as she prepares for her debut as Manon. It was fascinating to hear her talk about her performances and how her interpretation of roles has changed as she has matured as a dancer. She also spoke about her return to Elmhurst to dance the Two Pigeons pas de deux at their gala performance and other activities during the summer break including a gala in Mexico partnered by former Royal Ballet dancer Vito Mazzeo and a weekend in Barcelona to discuss a project with a sculptor. As always, we are very grateful to Melissa for her very open response to questions.

At our September meeting we welcomed two of the younger members of the Company, our Royal Ballet School Award winners Annette Buvoli and Reece Clarke, who spoke about their training, first year in the Royal Ballet and the tour to Moscow, Taipei and Shanghai. It was interesting to hear about their contrasting backgrounds. Annette joined the Royal Ballet Upper School when only fifteen and then jumped straight to the third year after her first year, whilst Reece joined the Royal Ballet at the beginning of the December in his third year at the Upper School. In their school performances, as well as partnering each other in their first year, Annette danced the lead in Mark Annear’s La Destinée and Reece returned from this summer’s tour to dance in Raymonda with the School. They provided members with a very enjoyable evening, relating many amusing stories from this summer’s tour as well as highlighting some of their favourite moments from last season.

If you do not have access to the internet and would like a copy of a report, please send an A5 stamped, addressed envelope to Roger Handley, 12 Pinewood, Willow Grove, Chislehurst, Kent, BR7 5BT. Please note this is a change of committee member taking responsibility for sending out reports.

Future meetings
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. Sir 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. He will talk about some of the highlights of his career in what will be a very interesting evening.

Our meeting on Friday 21 November is preceded at 6.45pm by our Annual General Meeting. (See later item). We are delighted to welcome Jeanetta Laurence, Associate Director of The Royal Ballet as our guest. It is six years since she last spoke to the Association. Jeanetta joined The Royal Ballet Touring Company in 1969 and went on to dance in The Royal Ballet’s New Group in 1970. She was promoted to soloist with SWRB and was appointed Assistant Ballet Mistress in 1978. She left to have a family in 1979. In 1983 she co-founded Dance Directory, an agency for freelance dancers and choreographers and later went to work with Gillian Lynne. In 1990 she joined the Senior Management Team of The Royal Ballet as Artistic Administrator. She was appointed Assistant Director in 2003 and Associate Director in 2009. She is a Trustee of the Ashton Foundation. Jeanetta has decided to leave the Company at the end of this Season as she retires to spend more time with her family. Kevin O’Hare writes:

Jeanetta has contributed the most enormous amount to The Royal Ballet both as a dancer and, for almost twenty five years, as a brilliant member of the Senior Management Team. There will be opportunities next year to celebrate Jeanetta’s career with The Royal Ballet and to thank her for all she has done for the Company.

Jeanetta has been a great friend of the Association and it is only fitting that she is our guest at our AGM in her last season.

Kevin also writes:

In the meantime, I have been revisiting the staffing structure of the Company and will be advertising for the newly created role of Artistic Administrator shortly. Phil Mosley’s current title of Artistic Administrator will change to better reflect his responsibilities to that of Artistic Scheduling Manager.

Provisionally, the dates for the rest of next season are 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 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.

Annual General Meeting
The meeting on Friday 21 November will be preceded by our AGM. Consequently the evening’s proceedings will commence at 6.45pm and doors will open at 6.15pm. It will be held at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church. The AGM will be followed at 7.30pm by our meeting with Associate Director, Jeanetta Laurence.


1. Apologies
2. Minutes of previous Annual General Meeting
3. Matters Arising
4. Chairman’s Report
5. Financial Report
6. Election of Committee
7. Any Other Business

At this meeting we shall be electing Honorary Officers and Committee Members. The Committee for 2013- 14 season was David Bain ( Chairman and Organising Secretary), Sylvia Tyler (Membership Secretary and Deputy Chairman until January), Liz Atkins (Acting Membership Secretary), Melanie Shipton (Treasurer), Liz Bouttell (Reporting Secretary), Rachel Holland, Geoffrey Griffiths, Chris Scott, Brian Don, Annette Fraser, Chiara Gorodesky and Richard Griffiths.

All current members have indicated they wish to continue on the committee. Association members wishing to nominate candidates for election or wishing to join the committee themselves should write to the Chairman, David Bain, by Friday 14 November. No nomination can be received at the AGM. Candidates for election must be proposed and seconded, in writing, by members of the Association. Anyone interested in joining the committee should phone David to discuss what it entails. The Organising Secretary, Reporting Secretary, Membership Secretary, Treasurer and committee members will be elected at the meeting. The Chairman and Deputy Chairman are appointed by the Committee at their first meeting after the AGM.

Draft Works
The Association, as in previous years, donated £500 towards new choreography through Draft Works last June. Kevin O’Hare’s letter thanking us was omitted from the August newsletter in error. He writes:

To All Members of the Ballet Association

I am writing to thank you all for your ongoing and hugely valued contribution to our draft Works programme. To any of you who attended one of the performances recently I do hope you enjoyed the evening which I felt was a really splendid one, both from the choreographers who took part and the dancers. As we come to the end of another Opera House season, on behalf of the Company thank you again for all your support and we look forward to seeing you again when we start the new Season in September.

With very best wishes Kevin O’Hare
Director, The Royal Ballet.

Birmingham Royal Ballet
As in previous years, the Association has donated £450 towards the Director’s Appeal. We are entitled to two tickets for rehearsals in Birmingham for the season. If you would like to attend the rehearsals using the Association’s tickets please contact the Chairman by phone or email a.s.a.p. The rehearsals are all at 7.00pm and you will be invited to refreshments from 6.00pm. Rehearsals are:

Shadows of War – Tuesday 7 October 2014
Moving Stateside – Tuesday 17 February 2015
The King Dances – Tuesday 16 June 2015
Sylvia – Tuesday 23 June 2015.

Ballet Association Awards
We are pleased to announce that our Committee has agreed that from 2015 all of our awards, three at the Royal Ballet School and one at Elmhurst, should be given in recognition of two of our founders, Sylvia Tyler and Joan Seaman.

Sylvia, who sadly passed away earlier this year, founded the Association with her husband Shane and was initially Treasurer for some 13 years, before returning to the committee in 2001 and more recently became Membership Secretary and Deputy Chairman.

Joan Seaman was initially Social Secretary and then Membership Secretary and served on the committee for most of the 41 years we have existed. Without their unique contributions, we would not have been formed, nor would we have developed into the flourishing Association that we are today.

We will ask the Directors of the Schools to read this citation when the Chairman presents the awards:

The Ballet Association Awards are given in recognition of the contribution to dance of Sylvia Tyler and Joan Seaman through their founding and development of the Association.

Fernando Montaño’s Classical Cabaret
The Hippodrome Theatre, Leicester Square: 8pm, Tuesday 21 October 2014

The evening will be a special opportunity to watch some of the very best artists currently working in the UK as they perform in the intimate and relaxed 170 seat theatre. The theme of the night will be friendship in celebration of Fernando’s journey from an extremely socially deprived and dangerous part of Colombia to Soloist at Covent Garden whilst meeting this incredible group of performers along the way. The show will include some individual performances as well as some unique cross-genre collaborations.

Those already confirmed include mezzo-soprano Justina Gringyte, who will be performing Carmen for ENO in 2015, violinist Jiafeng Chen, cellist Mikhail Nemtsov, pianist Sergey Rybin, Spanish dance stars Alberto Escobar and Sandra Bejarano and some other very special guests. The artists will be dressed by Fernando’s great friend Dame Vivienne Westwood and the evening hosted by Oscar Guardiola-Rivera. A limited number of tickets are available from the Hippodrome website and box office and are priced from £48 to £84. The show, which is choreographed and co-produced by Fernando, will be in two halves of 40 minutes each with a 20 minute interval.

Steven McRae: Dancer in the Fast Lane
Photographs 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
Please note that we hope to have both Steven McRae and Natalia Osipova as guests at meetings in the New Year when you will have an opportunity to get the books signed.

It is the time of year when we ask you to renew your membership. A membership form was attached to the August newsletter. Please return it 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
Email: or