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February 2016 newsletter

AT OUR FIRST MEETING of 2016 we were delighted to welcome our 2015 award winners from the Royal Ballet School Joshua Junker and Yuki Sugiura, who were accompanied by First Year Boys teacher Paul Lewis. Unfortunately our third award winner Gabrielle Beach was away in the United States attending auditions. We were provided with a fascinating evening hearing about Joshua and Yuki’s training in their respective countries, their success in competitions and their first few terms at the Royal Ballet School. Paul gave an entertaining account of his training and both his dance and teaching careers. Those of you who were put off by reports of inclement weather or tube strikes missed a very interesting evening. Later in this newsletter you will find a report of the students’ Autumn term and Christmas messages from them.

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
We are delighted to announce that the guest at our meeting on Thursday 18 February will be the Royal Ballet’s Resident Choreographer Wayne McGregor. It is more than eight years since Wayne last talked to the Association, a period in which he has choreographed an array of ballets for the Company as well as for many of the major ballet companies around the world and his company Random Dance. Last season saw his Woolf Works receive an enthusiastic reception from both the critics and audiences. This season has seen the reworking of Raven Girl and will finish with a new work, Obsidian Tears, in the last mixed programme. We are delighted that Wayne has found time in his busy schedule to talk to us about the many ballets he has choreographed in the last eight years and the mentoring of young choreographers. Those of you who have heard Wayne speak before will know that we are in for a very lively and entertaining evening.

At our next meeting on Wednesday 9 March we are very pleased to welcome First Soloist Ryoichi Hirano as our guest. Born in Japan, where he trained, Ryoichi won a Gold Medal at Prix de Lausanne in 2001 and joined the Royal Ballet as an Apprentice that year. He joined the Company the following year and was promoted to First Soloist in 2012. He has danced a wide variety of soloist and principal roles across the repertoire, including the Prince Florimund in Sleeping Beauty, Tybalt and Paris, the Prince in Prince of the Pagodas, the Witch in Hansel and Gretel, and most recently the Gypsy in Two Pigeons. Later in March he has his debut as Albrechtand will then dance Polixenes in Winter’s Tale and the Creature in Frankenstein. We look forward to welcoming Ryoichi to a meeting for the first time and hearing about his long and varied career.

At our second meeting of the month on Thursday 24 March we are delighted to welcome Soloist Christina Arestis as our guest. Born in Glasgow, Christina was brought up Cyprus and the Middle East. She trained at Mary Darke School of Dancing and was a Junior Associate of Scottish Ballet before joining the Royal Ballet School. There she created the role of the lead girl in Matthew Hart’s Simple Symphony in the School Performance in 1993. During her final year at the School she danced in Symphony in C with the Company. She joined the Company in 1994 and was promoted to Soloist in 2003. This season has seen her dance in Monotones II and as Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet. Other roles have included Lady Elgar, Bathilde, Madame Larina, Hermia, Helene Vetsera, Empress Elizabeth, Beautiful Tsarevna, the Bride in Les Noces and the Wife in The Concert, as well as roles in Ceremony of Innocence, Qualia, Figure in Progress and Castle Nowhere. Later this season she dances Paulina in The Winter’s Tale. We can expect a fascinating evening hearing about Christina’s long and varied career.

Provisionally, the dates for the rest this season are 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, 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.

Annual Dinner 2016
Our Annual Dinner will be on Tuesday 10th May. Once again, it will take place at the Rubens Hotel in Buckingham Palace Road. Dinner is at 8.00pm. A private bar is available from 7.00pm. The cost this year will be £40, the same as last year. We expect a heavy demand for tickets, so early application is advised. There will be about 145 places for members and 35 for an exciting array of dancers of all ranks, Company management, etc. We will not be announcing the guest list until the end of April. You will then have an opportunity to let us know which dancers you would like to sit near.

Please print and complete the application form and send it with your cheque and a stamped addressed envelope to Melanie Shipton, The Ballet Association, 7 Dutch Gardens, Kingston, Surrey, KT2 7TT. Please note, if you fail to send a stamped addressed envelope you will not receive your ticket and may lose your place if we are over-subscribed.

Members will be saddened to hear of the death of former NYC ballerina Violette Verdy, on 8 February aged 82. A guest teacher worldwide, including the Royal Ballet, Violette danced with Roland Petit, Ballet Rambert and London Festival Ballet before joining New York City Ballet. She later became Director of Paris Opera Ballet and then Boston Ballet. She will be greatly missed by all in the ballet world.

First Artist Leanne Cope has announced her resignation from The Royal Ballet to pursue her musical career on Broadway. We wish her continued success following the excellent reviews for American in Paris. Leanne joined the Royal Ballet in 2003, so we will be sending her a present.

Former Ballet Association RBS award winner Yaoqian Shang will be making her debut with Birmingham Royal Ballet as Juliet in Sunderland on 17 March and will also dance the role during the matinée in Nottingham on 2 April.

We send our congratulations to former Royal Ballet Principal Tamara Rojo on receiving a CBE in the New Year’s Honours List and to Christopher Wheeldon on receiving an OBE. Dance was well represented in this year’s awards with a knighthood going to Matthew Bourne, Director of New Adventures. We also congratulate former Royal Ballet Dancer Xander Parrish on his promotion to First Soloist at the Maryinsky after his debut as Albrecht in January.

Dance Books is delighted to announce a reprint of the book Ninette de Valois, Adventurous Traditionalist. First published in 2012, the book quickly went out of print. Based on a conference held at the Royal Ballet School in 2011, the book contains essays by and interviews with some of de Valois' closest collaborators, and is accompanied by a 4-hour DVD of interviews, classes, and coaching sessions. You'll find full details, plus ordering facilities, at: Dance books has also published Frederick Ashton’s Ballets: Style, Performance, Choreography by former Royal Ballet Dancer Geraldine Morris, which examines in detail six of Ashton’s ballets. Both books are priced at £20.

David Drew's memorial service
Our former Membership Secretary, Joan Seaman writes:

On Wednesday December the 9th I attended a Memorial Service for David Drew at St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden. It was full of his friends from all generations and the church was packed with warm memories and love.

David was the Ballet Association’s first President. The suggestion was made by one of our founders, Sylvia Tyler. From that moment he worked hard to bring the Ballet Association closer to the Company. He encouraged many people to speak (including Sylvie Guillem and Irek Mukhamedov) and helped organise demonstrations by Company members, and, of course, the Cricket matches!

Personally, as a committee member and interviewer, I worked with him for many years with great affection and respect. Without David’s hard work and encouragement, the Ballet Association would not be in the secure and flourishing position that it is today.

Thank you, David.

Ricardo Cervera
As indicated in the last newsletter, we sent a card and present to Ricardo Cervera to mark his retirement from dancing. He writes:

Dear David and everyone at the Ballet Association,

Firstly my apologies for the delay in sending this email. Between the emotion of my retirement, Christmas, New Year, adjusting to my new life… it has all been a bit of a whirlwind! I want to send a big HUGE THANK YOU for my congratulatory message and the gift you have so kindly sent me. I'm truly touched. It was very kind and thoughtful of you all to celebrate my departure from the stage.

Ric's gear

I have enclosed a picture of what I will put the gift towards. The tools I need to help me on the way to my future career!! It is also part of the Company's collection for my retirement. This way I will remember everyone as I go from studio to studio carrying my equipment.

Again please extend my gratitude. All my best, Ricardo.

The Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards
At the Award Ceremony on 25 January, which was held at The Place, our Chairman presented the Award for Best Classical Choreography to Wayne McGregor for Woolf Works for The Royal Ballet. This was the fifth year that this award has been sponsored by The Ballet Association.

Other award winners included:
Emerging Artist Award – Matthew Ball First Artist, The Royal Ballet
Best Female Dancer – Alessandra Ferri
Best Male Dancer – Vadim Muntagirov
Outstanding Female Performance (Classical) – Laura Morera for Lise in La Fille mal gardée
Outstanding Male Performance (Classical) – William Bracewell in The King Dances
De Valois Award for Outstanding Achievement – Sylvie Guillem.

Annual Visit to Elmhurst School for Dance and BRB – 23-24 June 2016
In the last newsletter we advertised our annual visit to Birmingham, which is always very popular. So far about half the places have been filled. If you are interested in attending, please print and complete the form and return it to the Chairman along with a cheque for the deposit of £15 per person. This deposit will cover transport to Elmhurst on the Friday morning and our donation to BRB. Please return as soon as possible as our performance tickets are only on hold until the end of February. We have yet to finalise the nature of any events offered by the Company as part of the visit. The visit will probably start with a late lunch or early supper on Thursday 23 June at a restaurant near the theatre. We hope to arrange an event, either before lunch or before the evening performance.

We have reserved seats for the evening performance of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Shakespeare Triple Bill on Thursday 23 June. The programme contains José Limón’s The Moor’s Pavane which distils the passion and drama of Shakespeare’s Othello into a thrilling one-act tragedy; David Bintley’s Shakespeare Suite set to a Duke Ellington score; and a new work by Jessica Lang which captures the poetry of The Sonnets. We have reserved seats in the Middle Stalls - rows P&Q (Please note row E is front row), Side Stalls – rows G-J, Side Circle Rows A-D. All seats are at a discounted group price of £18.75. Please indicate on the form your preference for seats.

As in previous years, we have reserved rooms in the IBIS Hotel, Birmingham Centre, which is close to the Hippodrome Theatre. For Thursday 23 June, the room rate including breakfast is £46 for single occupancy and £52 for two persons (£26 each). If you do not want breakfast, the rate for the room is £40 for single or double occupancy. If you wish to come up the night before, the rates for Wednesday 22nd are £54 for room only, £60 for B&B single occupancy and £66 double occupancy. If you wish to stay on an extra day after, the rates for Friday 24th are £51, £57 and £63 respectively.
On Friday 24 June, following breakfast, at about 9.45 a.m, we will arrange transportation from the IBIS Hotel to Elmhurst School for Dance, where Association members will receive a warm welcome. Our President Robert Parker will be our host for the day. Following registration and reception, members will enjoy a day in the school watching classes and rehearsals together with the presentation of the Association’s Annual Award to a student during lunch. The day will conclude at approximately 3.15 pm.

Discounted rates on the railways become available 12 weeks in advance. Information at Senior railcard holders can obtain very cheap tickets, around £4-£5 each way.

This visit is always one of the highlights of the Association’s year and can be highly recommended. If you have any questions, please contact our Chairman.

Visit to the Royal Ballet Upper School, Wednesday 27 April, 9.00am to 3.00pm
Once again, we have arranged a visit to the Upper School in Floral Street to watch three classes. This is a joint visit with London Ballet Circle and initially will only be open to members of the BA or LBC.

If you would like to attend, please send your name, address and contact details (preferably an email address) to David Bain, Chairman, The Ballet Association, 23 Capstan Square, Stewart Street, London E14 3EU. The cost of the visit will be £15. Please indicate whether you belong to the BA or LBC or both, so that we can allocate places fairly. Please enclose a cheque made payable to The Ballet Association. If you have no email address, please enclose a stamped addressed envelope. All monies collected will be donated to The Royal Ballet School to provide additional funds for students. Please apply before 7 April. If you would like to bring a guest, at a cost of £20, please indicate this in your letter, but do not include them in your cheque. We will contact you after 7 April to confirm whether or not any guest places are available.

We will not be issuing tickets. Places will be confirmed by email (or post).Your name will be placed on a list, which will be held at the door. If a 9.00am start is too early for you, it will be possible to join us at morning break around 10.30am. Please indicate in your letter if you will be a late arrival. There will be a 45 minute lunch break before the afternoon session. The School politely requests that you leave the premises during this break as they do not have the space to allow you to eat lunch on site. However, if you have any mobility issues, please indicate this in your letter and provision will be made for you to stay on site during the break and seating will be reserved for you in the theatre.

Royal Ballet School Award Winners
We have received the following report on our 2015 Award Winners:

On behalf of Yuki Sugiura, Joshua Junker and Gabrielle Beach we would like to thank the Ballet Association for their support of their training at The Royal Ballet School. It has been a very good start to the 2015-16 academic year for them all.

The 2nd Year students selected their own solos to perform for the Lynn Seymour Award in December, which gave them the chance to show their performance and expressive skills. Yuki danced a wonderful solo from Romeo and Juliet Act II – Lady Capulet (Tybalt’s death) and Joshua danced a solo from Jiri Kilian’s God and Dogs which suited him well. Joshua was delighted to be awarded 1st place by Kevin O’Hare and Dame Monica Mason.

Gabrielle has been working hard not only at School but also performing with The Royal Ballet’s corps de ballet in their Autumn season, which included; Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet, Frederick Ashton’s The Two Pigeons and Peter Wright’s The Nutcracker.

With kind regards, The Royal Ballet School.

We also received a Christmas Card from the students on which they wrote:

Dear Ballet Association. Thank you very much for the Award. It’s been a busy and enjoyable term. I won first prize in the Lynn Seymour Award with my solo. Thank you again, Joshua.

I would like to wish you a happy Christmas and wonderful New Year. I’ve really enjoyed this term. I am going home to Japan for Christmas to spend with my family. Thank you so much for your support. Yuki

Thank you so much for all your support. I’ve had an amazing first term of my last year at The Royal Ballet School. I’ve been chosen to understudy every ballet the company has done so far. I am also dancing every show of The Nutcracker doing “snowflakes”. Thank you again and have a very Happy Christmas. Gabrielle.

CHAIRMAN: David Bain
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