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July 2015 newsletter

SINCE OUR LAST NEWSLETTER the Royal Ballet has had a successful tour to Washington, Chicago and New York. Whilst the Company were away, we welcomed Jonathan Gray, the Editor of Dancing Times, as our guest. Jonathan provided us with a very interesting evening talking about his education, his time at the Theatre Museum, where he helped with the recreation of some ballets, and moving to work at the Dancing Times, where he eventually took over from Mary Clarke as editor. He gave us a fascinating insight into how an edition of the magazine is put together and the issues related to the reviewing of ballets.

Members are reminded that interviews should not be recorded or filmed and that photographs should only be taken at the end of the meeting. We welcome dancers speaking freely when they come to meetings. Sometimes they say things that do not wish to see in print and edit this out of the official reports. Therefore, please do not post your own reports of meetings on social media, other than to say you attended, enjoyed, etc., a meeting.

Future meetings
Our first meeting of the new season is on Thursday 13 August when we will be delighted to welcome Artist Gina Storm-Jensen and First Artist Donald Thom as our guests. This is our annual meeting where two of the younger dancers in the Royal Ballet talk about the end of season tour as well as their training and careers. Norwegian Gina trained at the Norwegian National Ballet School and was a finalist at the 2011 Prix de Lausanne before joining the Royal Ballet Upper School. Donald trained at the Linda Jamieson School of Dance in Canada before joining the Royal Ballet Upper School. In 2008 he was awarded several scholarships at Youth America Grand Prix and in 2009 the Royal Academy of Dance Solo Seal Award. Since joining the Company he has danced Lensky in Onegin, the Mad Hatter in Alice and the Sandman in Hansel and Gretel. Both created roles in Woolf Works and Donald in Untouchable. We can expect the meeting to provide a lively start to the season.

At our next meeting on Wednesday 26 August it is a privilege to welcome former Royal Ballet Principal Alina Cojocaru. Born in Bucharest, where she trained until joining Kiev Ballet School, Alina competed at Prix de Lausanne in 1997 at the age of 15 and won a scholarship to the Royal Ballet School. She stayed for six months before joining Kiev ballet as a Principal. She joined the Royal Ballet in November 1999 and was promoted to principal in 2001. She left the Royal Ballet at the end of the 2012-13 season and joined English National Ballet as Lead Principal and performs with many companies around the world, including Hamburg Ballet and in Bucharest, where her partner Johan Kobborg is now Director. In Hamburg, she created the lead role of Julie in John Neumeier’s Liliom. Alina organises galas for her charity Hospices of Hope and has won many international awards. Alina last spoke to the Association in October 2009, so we can expect a fascinating account of the last six years.

At our meeting on Wednesday 9 September we are delighted to welcome the Royal Ballet’s Guest Principal Dancer Carlos Acosta at the start of his final season with the Company and a few weeks before the premiere of his production of Carmen. This will be a joint meeting with the British Friends of Ballet Nacional de Cuba. More details will be provided in the next newsletter.
Provisionally, the dates for next season are Thursday 15 October, Friday 30 October, Tuesday 10 November, Thursday 26 November, Thursday 3 December, Wednesday 27 January, Thursday 4 February, Thursday 18 February, Wednesday 9 March, Thursday 24 March, Thursday 7 April, Friday 22 April, Thursday 5 May, Thursday 19 May, Wednesday 8 June. 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.

Queensland Ballet
Members are invited to attend a meeting of the British Friends of Ballet Nacional de Cuba on Sunday 2 August with Queensland Ballet Principal Yanela Piñera and Soloist Camilo Ramos before they dance in Peter Schaufuss’ production of La Sylphide at the London Coliseum. Former premier dancer and principal respectively with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, they joined Queensland Ballet at the start of this year.

The meeting will be held at the Civil Service Club, 13/15 Great Scotland Yard, London SW1A 2HJ, from approximately 3.00-4.15pm. The time is to be confirmed as they may be coming from a studio rehearsal. If you would like to attend, please inform BFBNC Secretary Janet Radenkovic at or 020 8567 9653 so she can add your name to the list held at the door and can confirm the start time.

We are delighted to announce that Associate Director Jeanetta Laurence has accepted your committee’s offer for her to become an Honorary Life Member of the Association in recognition of the help she has given us in her 25 years in the Royal Ballet’s management.

Royal Ballet dancers have been busy on the radio recently. First Soloist Alexander Campbell was heard in View from the boundary during Test Match Special and an interview with First Artist Nathalie Harrison as part of Radio 4’s Book of the Week. Both are available digitally from the BBC’s website.

Members will have been saddened to hear of the planned closure of the Ballet Museum at White Lodge. However, if you go to the V & A Museum there is currently an exhibition which includes Moira Shearer’s red shoes.

Former Royal Ballet Principal Guest Artist Sylvie Guillem has been awarded the title of Associate Artist Emeritus by Sadler’s Wells. Former Royal Ballet dancer Sergei Polunin has launched Project Polunin in conjunction with Sadler’s Wells to create new work. Members may have seen photos of Sergei dancing with Principal Natalia Osipova in various venues, including Jerome Robbins Other Dances at the Stanislavsky Theatre.

Natalia Osipova is performing in the Ardani 25 Dance Gala at the London Coliseum on 17 & 18 July with Edward Watson in the UK premiere of Alastair Marriott’s Zeitgeist with Royal Ballet dancers Marcelino Sambé, Tomáŝ Mock and Donald Thom. She will also reprise Arthur Pita’s Facada with Ivan Vasiliev.

Congratulations to Royal Ballet Principal Edward Watson on receiving an MBE and to BRB Chief Executive Christopher Barron and Royal Academy of Dance Artistic Director Lynn Wallis on receiving OBEs in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Many of you will remember former New York City Ballet Principal Albert Evans performing as a guest artist with the Royal Ballet many seasons ago. We are saddened to hear of his death at the age of 46.

Some members recently attended a talk by former Royal Ballet Principal Leanne Benjamin at English National Ballet Studios organised by the Tait Memorial Trust, which raises funds for Australian students to train professionally in London. We apologise for not being able to advertise this meeting in time for more members to attend. More information about the trust can be obtained from

Promotions, joiners and leavers at The Royal Ballet
We send our congratulations to Francesca Hayward and James Hay who have been promoted to First Soloists; Meaghan Grace Hinkis, Luca Acri, Nicol Edmonds and Marcelino Sambé to Soloists; Camille BracherMayara Magri, Leticia StockMatthew BallSander BlommaertTomáŝ Mock and Donald Thom to First Artists.

Joining the Company at the start of the Season will be Chisato Katsura from The Royal Ballet School. Grace Blundell (formerly Royal Ballet School) and Ashley Scott (formerly English National Ballet School), who were both part of the 2014/15 Aud Jebsen Young Dancers Programme, join the Company alongside 2015 Prix de Lausanne dancer David Yudes as Artists. Joining as Aud Jebsen Young Dancers for the 2015/16 season are Isabel LubachJulia Roscoe, Lukas Bjørneboe BrændsrødHarry Churches and Leo Dixon, all from The Royal Ballet School. Julian MacKay, formerly of the Bolshoi Academy, joins the Company as Prix de Lausanne Dancer for the Season.

All remaining Aud Jebsen Young Dancers from the 2014/15 Season have been offered contracts: Maria Barroso joins The National Ballet of Portugal, Grace Horler joins Scottish Ballet and Ashleigh McKimmie joins The Estonian National Ballet.

Charlotte Edmonds will join The Royal Ballet for the 2015/16 Season as the first choreographer to participate in the new Royal Ballet Young Choreographer Programme.

As already announced, First Soloist Deirdre Chapman and First Artists Pietra Mello-Pittman and Ludovic Ondiviela left the Company mid-season. First Artists Jacqueline ClarkElsa GodardMichael Stojko and Andrej Uspenski left the Company at the end of the Season. For the 2015/16 Season Andrej Uspenski will be engaged as a photographer for The Royal Ballet and other departments across the Royal Opera House.

First Soloist Melissa Hamilton will take a sabbatical for the 2015/16 Season to spend the year as a Principal dancer with the Semperoper Ballett in Dresden. First Artist Leanne Cope continues her sabbatical for the 2015/16 Season playing Lise Dassin in the Tony Award-winning An American in Paris, directed and choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, Artistic Associate of The Royal Ballet.

Promotions, joiners and leavers at Birmingham Royal Ballet
We also send our congratulations to Matthias Dingman, who is promoted to Principal; Céline Gittens to First Soloist; Yvette Knight to Soloist; and Karla Doorbar, Miki Mizutani and Lewis Turner to First Artists at BRB.

Joining as Artists from the Royal Ballet School are Letícia Dias Domingues from Brazil, Rachele Pizzillo from Italy and Brooke Ray from New Zealand. Beatrice Parma from Italy joins as an Artist from Turkish State Opera and Ballet. Miko Fogarty from London, graduate of the Indiana Ballet Conservatory, joins as an Artist on a one year contract. Mitsuru Ito from Japan joins as an Artist on a one-year scholarship as a Prix de Lausanne prize winner.

Leaving the Company are Principal Natasha Oughtred, and Benjamin Soerel and Lorena Agramonte, as well as Laetitia Lo Sardo and Sofia Rubio Robles who left earlier in the season.

Royal Ballet School Awards
Our Chairman attended the School’s end of year Assembly to present the Association’s 2015 Royal Ballet School Awards to Gabrielle Beach from the USA, Joshua Junker from Holland and Yuki Sugiura from Japan. Joshua and Yuki are in the First Year of the Upper School and Gabrielle in her second. The Awards of £600 each are given to help with their studies at the School. They were given at the Assembly, rather than at the Graduation Ceremony as in previous years, as it has been decided the latter will concentrate on only those students who have graduated.

At the Graduation Ceremony attended by our Chairman, Christopher Powney announced those graduating who had been supported by the Association through winning our awards in previous years; Chisato Katsura in her second year, and Grace Robinson and Harry Churches in their third years.

Visit to Birmingham Royal Ballet & Elmhurst School for Dance
Once again, in June, 39 Association members had an excellent visit to Birmingham in June. After a late lunch on the first day, members attended a pre-performance talk from BRB’s Lachlan Monaghan, a previous winner of one of our Royal Ballet School Awards. As well as talking about his career, Lachlan demonstrated basic ballet moves. Members then attended the opening night of David Bintley’s Sylvia. Those who came a day early also saw the rehearsal of the ballet the previous evening.

The following day, members once again were treated to an excellent day at Elmhurst School for Dance where they were welcomed by our President, Artistic Director Robert Parker. During the day members watched class and rehearsals and our Annual Ballet Association Award was presented to Japanese dancer Kirica Takahashi. A collection was held during lunch which resulted in a large additional donation being given to the school. Our thanks to committee member Brian Don for organising the trip.

A few days later, the School celebrated the tenth anniversary of its move to Birmingham with performances in the Repertory Theatre. In addition to holding a number of celebratory events, including a visit from the School’s patron, the Duchess of Cornwall, they are also raising funds to establish an on-site Health and Well-Being Centre, a Multi-Use Games Area and an Investment Fund to provide bursaries for students who require financial support to train at Elmhurst.

The Ballet Lover’s Companion by Zoe Anderson
Members may have seen that Zoe Anderson has produced a guide to the most successful and loved ballets seen on stage today. Published by Yale University Press, it is available to Association members at the discounted price of £19 (RRP £25), if you quote the promo code Y1489, until 1 October. A leaflet is enclosed for those who receive their newsletter by post. Alternatively it can be ordered online at the YaleBooks website quoting the code or by post from Yale University Press, Direct Mail Department, 47 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3DP or telephone 020 7079 4900.

The Royal Academy of Dance will be hosting the launch of Zoe’s book at the RAD Headquarters, 36 Battersea Square, SW11 3RA on Wednesday 29 July at 7.30pm. Ballet Association members are invited to attend at a discounted price if you quote “balletcompanion15”. Full price tickets, which include a glass of wine, are £15 and £10 for RAD members. The discount is £3. You can book places on the RAD website at or phone the Royal Academy of Dance on 020 7326 8000.

CHAIRMAN: David Bain
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