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September 2015 newsletter

SINCE OUR LAST NEWSLETTER we have had two packed meetings. For our second meeting in August we welcomed former Royal Ballet Principal Alina Cojocaru as our guest. Alina started by talking about the last month in Tokyo where she had been dancing with Johan Kobborg in the World Ballet Galas. She then moved on to the last two years of her career. She spoke about her reasons for joining English National Ballet as a Lead Principal, including new choreography in the Lest We Forget programme, working with Anne-Marie Holmes on Le Corsaire and her various new partners, as well of the enjoyment of touring the UK. She also spoke about working with John Neumeier in Hamburg and with Johan at Opera Nacional Bucharest and her galas for Hospices of Hope, before talking about her last few years with the Royal Ballet. This included Alina’s work with various choreographers, including Liam Scarlett, Alexei Ratmansky, Kim Brandstrup and Wayne McGregor. She provided us with a very enjoyable evening.
Our September meeting was jointly held with the British Friends of Ballet Nacional de Cuba, when we welcomed Principal Guest Artist Carlos Acosta, at the start of his last season with the Royal Ballet. He had come straight from rehearsing his new production of Carmen and spoke about the rationale of his interpretation. He then talked about Don Quixote, including performances on the recent American tour, Cubania and his plans for his Classical Selection at the Coliseum in December and in the Royal Albert Hall October 2016. He then spoke briefly about his writing and film careers, including plans for the future. Carlos then moved on to talk in detail about his International Dance Foundation, including building a dance school in Havana and base for his small contemporary company. He had recently returned from Havana where he had held auditions. Carlos is committed to providing free training for students from poor backgrounds across Central and South America and, potentially, Africa. He spoke briefly about the influence of Ramona de Saa, Director of the National Ballet School, on his career and of Alicia Alonso on ballet in Cuba. Carlos completed the evening speaking about some of the highlights of his career, including the Royal Ballet’s tour to Cuba in 2009, his success at Prix de Lausanne, which led to joining ENB, and dancing in Spartacus with the Bolshoi Ballet. We raised nearly £1100 for his Foundation from donations at the meeting.
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, other than to say you attended, enjoyed, etc., a meeting.
Future meetings
At our next meeting on Thursday 15 October, 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. 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 Benjamin Ella. 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.
At our second October meeting on Friday 30th, we are delighted to have Principal Matthew Golding as our guest. This will be the first time that Matthew has talked to the Association since joining as a Principal in 2014 having danced Solor as a guest artist the previous season. Born in Saskatchewan, he trained at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School and the Universal Ballet Academy in Washington. In 2002 he won Youth America Grand Prix and a Prix de Lausanne scholarship to the Royal Ballet School. The following year he joined American Ballet Theatre and then Dutch National Ballet in 2009, becoming a Principal in 2010. He still dances there as a Guest artist as well as in other companies around the world. Since joining the Royal, he has danced principal roles across the repertoire. This Autumn these will include Romeo, Tchaikovsky pas de deux, the Prince in Nutcracker, and in Within the Golden Hour. We can expect a fascinating evening.
Our November meeting on Tuesday 10 November will be preceded by our AGM (see later). The speaker will be Federico Bonelli. Details in the next newsletter.
Provisionally, the dates for this season are 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.
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. The first three have now been allocated, but those in June are available:

The Taming of the Shrew, Wed 15 June 2016
Shakespeare Triple Bill: The Sonnets, The Moor’s Pavane, The Shakespeare Suite, Tues 21 June.

Members will be delighted to hear of the awards won by The Royal Ballet at the Positano Premia la Danza Léonide Massine. At the 43rd annual Positano Awards, Production of the Year was Wayne McGregor’s Woolf Works; Choreographer of the Year was Liam Scarlett; and the prestigious Moscow-Positano Prix Benois-Massine Award for Best Male Dancer (a prize which links the Positano Awards with Moscow’s Prix Benois de la Danse) was awarded to Edward Watson.
We have sent congratulations to Tara-Brigitte Bhavnani, who married Vignesh Sivagnanam during the Summer, and to Laura McCulloch on the birth of her daughter Evie Jessica Carter on 1 July.
Northern Ballet Theatre have just premiered former Royal Ballet Dancer Jonathan Watkins’ production of 1984 in Leeds to critical acclaim.
Look out for the John Lewis insurance advertisement choreographed by Royal Ballet Soloist Kristen McNally.
David Bintley’s The King Dances is being shown on BBC 4 on 13 September and will be available on iPlayer.
Members are reminded that Thursday 1 October is World Ballet Day and there will be live streaming via YouTube from companies around the world – Australian Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Ballet, National Ballet of Canada and San Francisco Ballet. The five hours from The Royal Ballet will include part of a class, rehearsals of Carmen and off-stage action from the matinée performance of Romeo and Juliet.

Genée International Ballet Competition Final
The final of the Genée International Ballet Competition will be streamed live from Sadler’s Wells on Saturday 19 September for the first time in its 84 year history. You can watch the streamed event for £14 (£9 for RAD members). The live stream will be presented by Deborah Bull, former Principal with The Royal Ballet and currently Director of Culture, at King’s College, London. You can also access additional content only available to online viewers, including extensive interviews, and cast your vote (via text message) for your favourite dancer to win the Margot Fonteyn Audience Choice Award. View on demand will be available for 2 days after the live broadcast. Visit or for details.
It is the time of year when we ask you to renew your membership. A membership renewal form was attached to the last newsletter. If you haven’t already done so, please return the form to Liz Atkins, Membership Secretary, as soon as possible. If you joined the Association, as a new member, after the start of April 2015, your membership covers this coming season. Your membership card will have indicated this. If you have an e-mail address, please consider receiving the newsletter by e-mail 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, but 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 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 £5000 towards the revival of the original sets and costumes for Rhapsody.
Annual General Meeting
The meeting on Tuesday 10 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 Federico Bonelli.
  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 2014-15 season was David Bain ( Chairman and 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 (resigned Spring 2015) and Roger Handley. Geoffrey Griffiths and Brian Don have indicated that they will not be standing for re-election to the committee. All other 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. Prospective committee members ideally should be able to write reports on meetings, a job shared by the committee when Liz Bouttell is unavailable. 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. Members will wish to give thanks to Geoffrey and Brian for their long term commitment to the Association at the AGM.

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