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November 2015 newsletter

SINCE OUR LAST NEWSLETTER we have had three very entertaining meetings. Our first meeting in October saw a change of cast with Artists Grace Blundell and Solomon Golding as our guests. Akane Takada and Benjamin Ella had to withdraw because of a stage call of Viscera that evening and will now talk in December. We are very grateful to Grace and Solomon for stepping in at one day’s notice and providing us with a very interesting evening. Their routes through School and into the Company were very different. Grace was unsuccessful at auditions for the Royal Ballet School and trained at Elmhurst School for Dance before joining the Royal Ballet Upper School and was, last year, one of the first cohort of Aud Jebsen Young Dancers working with the Royal Ballet, before joining as a Company member at the start of this season. In contrast, Solomon trained at White Lodge, but had difficulty obtaining a contract when he graduated from the Upper School, and danced with Hong Kong Ballet for a year before joining the Royal in 2013. Together they gave a fascinating insight into life as a ballet student and as a member of the corps de ballet. We look forward to following their careers with interest.
At our second October meeting we welcomed Royal Ballet Principal Matthew Golding who provided us with another very entertaining evening. From Saskatchewan in Canada, Matt trained at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School and the Universal Ballet Academy in Washington before winning a scholarship to the Royal Ballet School at Prix de Lausanne. He spoke about the strong influence Gailene Stock had on his training and future career, which started with the Studio Company at ABT. After two years he joined ABT, before moving to Angel Corella’s Company in Spain and then to Dutch National Ballet, where he formed a partnership with Ana Tsygankova. He joined the Royal in January 2014 and has danced in ballets across the repertoire. Matt gave us a fascinating account of dancing in contrasting companies and of time he has spent dancing as a guest around the world. With Ana and others, he has a gala programme scheduled for Bermuda next year,
After our AGM in November we were delighted to welcome back Federico Bonelli, who was returning to talk to the Association after a gap of six years, during a run of Carmen, for which he was receiving good reviews dancing both Escamillo and Don Jose. Federico spoke about working on new choreography with Wayne McGregor, Christopher Wheeldon, Liam Scarlett and Carlos before moving on to other aspects of his career at Zurich, Dutch National and The Royal Ballet. He talked about how both he and the Company had changed during his twelve years with the Royal and the buzz that had surrounded Alice, the first new full length ballet for many years. Federico gave us a very entertaining evening.
A summary report is available on our website once the report has been checked by the guest speaker. 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. 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.
Future meetings
At our next meeting on Thursday 3 December, it is a pleasure to welcome the Royal Ballet’s First Soloist Akane Takada, with her real life partner Artist Benjamin Ella as our guests. As explained above, Akane and Ben were first scheduled to talk in October. Akane won a Prix de Lausanne scholarship to the Royal Ballet in 2008 and joined the Company in 2009, becoming First Soloist in 2014. Born in Tokyo, she trained there and at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy. Her repertoire has included Odette/Odile, Aurora, Sugar Plum Fairy, Olga, Kitri and a number of creations in Wayne McGregor’s ballets, including Wild Fire Exercise. During the first part of this season she dances the Raven, the Young Girl in Two Pigeons, Sugar Plum Fairy and a principal role in Christopher Wheeldon’s Within the Golden Hour. During the summer break she danced in galas with Ben. Ben was born in Melbourne to former dancers Christine Walsh and Ricardo Ella. He trained at their school, the Australian Conservatoire of Ballet in Richmond before joining the Royal Ballet Upper School, where he was named Outstanding Graduate of the Year and danced a pas de deux at that year’s National Dance Awards. He joined the Company in 2009 and despite serious injury early on in his career has danced in many works across the repertoire and recently created a role in Untouchable and a principal role in Woolf Works. We can expect an interesting evening.

Please note that the meeting for 26 November has been cancelled.
On Wednesday 27 January we have the annual meeting with our Royal Ballet School Award winners and one of their teachers. This year we welcome teacher Paul Lewis with our 2015 award winners Joshua Junker, Yuki Sugiura and Gabrielle Beach. Gabrielle from the USA is in her graduate year, whilst Joshua from Holland and Yuki from Japan are in their second year at the School. Paul currently teaches the first year Upper School boys. He initially trained with Leo Kersley, a long term member of the Association, before joining The Legat School and The Royal Ballet School. He joined Northern Ballet Theatre in 1984, the Royal Ballet of Flanders in 1985 and rejoined Northern as a soloist in 1989, before joining English National Ballet, where he danced such roles as Tybalt and Rothbart. He left ENB in 1999 to pursue a teaching career, but returned often as a Guest Character Artist and teacher. He joined Central School of Ballet in 2005, ENB School in 2010 and returned to the Royal Ballet School in 2013. He has taught in the USA, Japan and, very recently, in Paris. These annual meetings with students are always very interesting and entertaining and a good opportunity to meet young dancers before they embark on their careers. Previous award winners have included the Royal’s Tristan Dyer, Marcelino Sambé, Annette Buvoli, Chisato Katsura, Reece Clarke and Apprentice Harry Churches, BRB’s Yaoqian Shang and ENB’s Shiori Kase.
Provisionally, the dates for this season are Thursday 4 February, Thursday 18 February, Wednesday 9 March, Thursday 24 March, Friday 22 April, Thursday 5 May, Thursday 19 May, Wednesday 8 June. (Please note that the meeting scheduled for 7 April has been cancelled as the Royal Ballet have an Insight evening that day.) 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.
David Drew, Founder President of the Ballet Association
Members will have been very sad to hear of the death of our Founder President David Drew early on the 16th of October after a long period of illness. Born on 12 March 1938, David joined Sadler’s Wells Ballet in 1955 and was promoted to Principal in 1974. He danced with the Company for 56 years, retiring in 2003 but performing as a guest in many of his character roles until 2011, when ill health meant he couldn’t continue.

He was a great champion of new choreography and for 13 years ran the choreographic course with Norman Morrice. In recent years he championed the revival of lost works, such as Helpman’s Miracle in the Gorbals and Adam Zero and was working until his death.

We have sent condolences to his wife June and son Tony. Without David’s support the Association would not have developed into the organisation it is today. In the early years, David captained a Royal Ballet cricket team in annual matches with the Association. Members will have many happy memories of sitting with David and June at Annual Dinners and David’s lively and entertaining anecdotes at the many meetings at which he spoke.
Birmingham Royal Ballet, Director’s Appeal
As in previous years, the Association has made a donation toward David Bintley’s Director’s Appeal towards new choreography. This entitles the Association to two seats for the on-stage working rehearsals prior to the opening nights. If you, or you and a guest, would be interested in attending any of these rehearsals, please let our Chairman know. We will hold a ballot if necessary to allocate places. As Gold Barre supporters, you will have reserved seating in the auditorium and refreshments in the Wragge room from 6.00pm. All rehearsals start at 7.00pm. Those in June are still available.
The Taming of the Shrew -Wednesday 15 June 2016
Shakespeare Triple Bill: The Sonnets, The Moor’s Pavane, The Shakespeare Suite - Tuesday 21 June
Members will have been saddened to hear of the death of costume and set designer Yolanda Sonnabend, who designed many ballets including Anthony Dowell’s Swan Lake and Natalia Makarova’s La Bayadère.
On a more cheerful note, we are delighted to congratulate Hayley Forskitt and Brian Maloney on the birth of their son McKenna Michael on 30 September and to Nao Sakuma and Yasuo Atsuji on their marriage and on the birth of their daughter Karen. We also send our congratulations to Steven Monteith who married his partner Luke earlier this year and to Chi Cao and Yijing Zhang who married this summer.
Many members will have been present at Carlos Acosta’s last performance in Carmen. He will be appearing in William Tuckett’s Elizabeth in the Linbury. He has now announced the dates for his 2016 tour, where he will be appearing in works that are important to him with members of his new company. They will be dancing in May: Nottingham 3 & 4, Birmingham 6 & 7, Southampton 10 & 11, Salford 13 & 14.
Natalia Osipova will be performing in a programme of new works by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Russell Maliphant, Arthur Pita at Sadler’s Wells from 29 June – 3 July. She will also be performing as a Principal Guest Artist with the Bolshoi Ballet in its London Season in July and August.
Dates for your diary: Provisionally our Annual Dinner will be on Tuesday 10 May. Our annual joint visit to The Royal Ballet Upper School with London Ballet Circle will be on Wednesday 27 April. Information about how to apply will be in the March newsletter. Dates for our Annual visit to Elmhurst and Birmingham Royal Ballet will be in the next newsletter.
Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards
For a fifth year, the Association is sponsoring the Best Classical Choreography Award in the Critic’s Circle National Dance Awards for the season 2014-15. The nominations are:
Paco Peña, Fernando Romero, Angel Muñoz, Charo Espino & Carmen Rivas for Flamencura for Paco Peña Company; David Bintley for The King Dances for Birmingham Royal Ballet; Wayne McGregor for Woolf Works for The Royal Ballet; Liam Scarlett for Age of Anxiety for The Royal Ballet; Kenneth Tindall for The Architect for Northern Ballet.
Amongst the nominations for other awards are:
Best Male Dancer (Classical): Steven McRae, Vadim Muntagirov, Edward Watson
Best Female Dancer (Classical): Alessandra Ferri, Marianela Nunez and former Royal Ballet dancers Alina Cojocaru, Sylvie Guillem
Emerging Artist: Matthew Ball
Outstanding Female Performance (Classical): Lauren Cuthbertson for Song of the Earth; Alessandra Ferri for Woolf Works; Francesca Hayward for Manon; Laura Morera for Lise
Outstanding Male Performance: Matthew Ball for Lensky; William Bracewell for Louis XIV in The King Dances; Vadim Muntagirov for Symphonic Variations.
Oberon Books
We have two copies left of Birmingham Royal Ballet, the book of photographs of the company by Bill Cooper, at a massively reduced price of £12 for 250 pages. A great bargain. If you would like one of these please contact the Chairman direct.
Carlos Acosta at The Royal Ballet is co-published by Oberon Books and The Royal Ballet, ISBN: 9781783198900, RRP £35. Ballet Association members can get 40% off with the following discount code: OnBallet15. (Special price is £21.) Simply enter the code when you check out: or buy direct from their distributors and quote ‘OnBallet15‘ over the phone: +44 (0)1235 465547
“Carlos Acosta is the most iconic dancer of our times, a genius of ballet and an international star. This superb quality photo-led book is published to mark Acosta’s farewell season; an exciting retrospective to capture his greatest performances with The Royal Ballet. Carlos Acosta at The Royal Ballet is a tribute to his phenomenal success and popularity with Royal Ballet audiences since 1998. The book contains over 150 images of Carlos on stage and in rehearsal. Ballet photographs include his own production of Don Quixote, Requiem, Apollo, Romeo and Juliet, La Fille mal gardée, Sleeping Beauty, Judas Tree and Winter Dreams, plus many more. This book is a unique record of his time with The Royal Ballet and a must-have book for all dance fans.”
Limited Edition: Invitation – Sylvie Guillem
In time for Christmas, Oberon has secured a limited stock of this stunning picture book. First published in 2005, but unavailable for many years, this lavish – and truly enormous – coffee table book is a monumental tribute to Sylvie Guillem. Ballet Association members can buy this book (HB • 395 x 290mm • 433pp) for £70 including free delivery (RRP = £80). Please quote ‘OnBallet15’. To secure your copy, please contact: or call +44 (0)20 7607 3637.

"Each page of this book makes one thing very clear. Sylvie Guillem is unique. And therefore beyond compare. She is perhaps the last great classical ballerina. The last ballerina assoluta." Dominique Frétard.
Draft Works and Rhapsody
Members of the Association were invited to a Draft Works programme on 30 October. Unfortunately because of the short notice the invite could only be extended to those members who receive their newsletter by email. It also unfortunately clashed with our meeting with Matthew Golding. The invitation is in response to the Association’s continued sponsorship of Draft Works. We also gave a large donation towards reviving Rhapsody. Kevin O’Hare wrote to the Chairman:

The very kind gift from The Ballet Association to support our developing and expanding Draft Works initiative is enormously appreciated. Thank you. I am sorry you can’t make it to the performance on 30 October but hope to see others from the Ballet Association there. Draft Works is a vital platform and one that is helping to develop an even richer culture of new ideas by offering the dancers an opportunity to experiment in an unpressurised environment.
Thank you also for the extremely generous gift to support towards the costs of reviving the set and costumes for Rhapsody for this Season. Whilst rehearsals are yet to start, work has begun here and in Thurrock on the production which will open on 16 January performed alongside The Two Pigeons, our second Ashton double-bill of the Season.
Thank you again to The Ballet Association for its ongoing support, it is wonderful to have. Best wishes, Kevin.

Chance to Dance
The Royal Opera House’s Chance to Dance works with 24 primary schools in Lambeth, Southwark and Thurrock and offers many children their first ever experience of ballet. In August the Association made a donation of £500 to support this scheme. David Pickering, Education Administrator and Teacher, wrote: “can I say an enormous personal thank you on behalf of Chance to Dance to The Ballet Association for their kind support. How wonderful it is that you value Learnincipation dance projects, choreographic initiatives as well as supporting world class Royal Ballet productions.”
Thank you to the majority of you who have renewed your membership for the new season. If you haven’t, please do so quickly as this may be the last newsletter that you receive. A special reminder to e-mail members, as it is easy to forget to print off the renewal form which was attached to the August newsletter.

We would like to thank those of you who have added donations to your membership renewal. As explained in the last newsletter, these will go towards our next substantial donation to the Royal Ballet, following the precedent set by this year’s donation of £5,000 towards the revival of the original sets and costumes for Rhapsody.
Annual General Meeting
At a well-attended AGM which was held before our meeting with Federico Bonelli, the committee for 2015-16 season was elected unopposed. They are David Bain ( Organising Secretary), Liz Atkins (Membership Secretary), Melanie Shipton (Treasurer), Liz Bouttell (Reporting Secretary), Rachel Holland, Chris Scott, Annette Fraser, Chiara Gorodesky, and Roger Handley.

The Chairman and Deputy Chairman will be elected at the next committee meeting. Thanks were given to Richard Griffiths, Geoffrey Griffiths and Brian Don for their contributions to the committee over many years.

Whilst we have the number on the committee required by the Constitution, we are always looking for volunteers to help out, particularly with the onerous task of writing reports on meetings. If you feel you could help, please talk to the Chairman or any other committee member.

During the meeting members raised questions regarding the Annual Dinner, encouraging speakers to speak up and the BRB trip.
CHAIRMAN: David Bain
23 Capstan Square, Stewart Street, London E14 3EU
Tel: 020 7515 1254 Mobile: 07855 823921
Email: or