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June/July 2016 newsletter

AT OUR MAY MEETING it was a pleasure to welcome our Patron, Royal Ballet Director Kevin O’Hare. Like his predecessor, Kevin has attended a meeting every other season. He spoke in detail about the repertoire that had been performed over the last two years, indicating that new works will generally receive a second showing within two seasons to give the opportunity for choreographers to make any changes they wish. This had happened earlier in the season with Raven Girl and, most recently, with The Winter’s Tale, which had been a great success on its first showing. He also talked about the tours to Russia, Taiwan and USA, and the upcoming tour to Japan. He spoke about changes in the Company and the welcome introduction of the Aud Jebsen Young Dancers Programme. All those on the programme this last season have now successfully joined the Company. Kevin thanked the Association for their help in the restaging of Rhapsody with its original designs and slightly altered costumes and hoped it would be possible to welcome members to a studio rehearsal again next season, despite the building works. In an evening packed with information, we ran out of time and hardly touched on the programme for the next season. We are very grateful to Kevin, for giving up one of his few free evenings to talk to members.

At our last meeting of the season, it was a delight to welcome former Royal Ballet Principal Character Artist Genesia Rosato, who retired from the Company earlier in the year. Amazing as it may seem, it is around eleven years since Genesia last spoke to the Association, although she has regularly attended our Annual Dinners. She spoke about all aspects of her 40 year career with the Company, working with six directors and choreographers such as Ashton and MacMillan. The original Princess Louise in Mayerling, she has performed five of the female roles in the ballet. Genesia talked about the many influences on her career, including being taught by Julia Farron at The Royal Ballet School, working with Gerd Larsen and being coached by Sorella Englund as Madge in La Sylphide. And, of course, she spoke about A Month in the Country. Genesia provided members with a very enjoyable and informative evening and will always be a very welcome guest of the Association.

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 they 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 first meeting of the new season on Wednesday 31 August we are delighted to welcome Artists Ashley Dean and Julia Roscoe. This is our annual meeting where two of the younger members of the Company come to talk about the summer tour, as well as speaking about their training and careers. The tour this summer was nearly four weeks in Japan, performing in a number of cities including two weeks in Tokyo. Both Ashley and Julia graduated initially as Apprentices into the Aud Jebsen Young Dancers Programme. South African, Ashley trained at Cape Junior Ballet Company before joining English National Ballet School in 2011. That year she won a bronze medal at the Genée International Ballet Competition and in 2013 the Royal Academy of Dance Solo Seal Award. Whilst a student she danced with English National Ballet and as an Apprentice toured with The Royal Ballet. She graduated into the first cohort of the Young Dancers Programme in 2014 and joined the Company in 2015. Her work has included the premiere of Hofesh Shechter’s Untouchable and roles in the corps de ballet across the repertoire. Julia joins the Company at the start of the 2016-17 Season after a year as an Apprentice. Born in London, she trained at Debra Bradman Ballet School before entering The Royal Ballet School at White Lodge. As many members will remember, in 2005, she created the role of Little Girl in Johan Kobborg’s production of La Sylphide for The Royal Ballet. These meetings with young dancers are always very entertaining and should not be missed. So if you are not on holiday, do come along!

At our next meeting on Thursday 15 September we are very privileged to welcome former Royal Ballet Principal Viviana Durante who is returning to the Company this season to coach for the revival of Kenneth MacMillan’s Anastasia. Born in Rome, Viviana trained there before joining The Royal Ballet School aged ten. She graduated into the Company in 1984, after only one year in the Upper School, and was promoted to Principal in 1989 aged 21. She left the Company in 1996, although continued to appear regularly as a Guest Artist until 2000. In 2001 she joined ABT as a Principal and La Scala Ballet as a Principal Guest Artist, continuing to dance regularly with leading companies around the world, particularly K Ballet, Tokyo. Viviana was renowned for her intensely dramatic performances and won particular acclaim for roles in Kenneth MacMillan’s ballets and her partnership with Irek Mukhamedov. She has danced at the National Theatre, acted at the Edinburgh Festival and on film, choreographed and judged competitions, as well as being a Patron of the Hammond School and New English Ballet Theatre. We can expect a fascinating evening and are delighted to welcome Viviana back to the Association.

Guests at our meetings on Wednesday 28 September and Wednesday 12 October respectively will be Royal Ballet Principal Vadim Muntagirov and Director and Choreographer Sir Peter Wright. More details will be given in the next newsletter. Please note that the October date is Wednesday 12th, not Tuesday 11th as stated in the last newsletter.   

Provisional dates for meetings next season are: Thursday 3 November, Thursday 24 November (This meeting will be our AGM), Wedesday 7 or 14 December, Thursday 19 January, Wednesday 25 January, Wednesday 1 February, Friday 17 February, Thursday 2 March, Wednesday 22 March, Wednesday 5 April, Thursday 13 April, Thursday 27 April, Wednesday 10 May, Wednesday 17 May, Friday 26 May, Thursday 1 June, Friday 9 June (not Tuesday 6th as originally stated).  Please note that the meeting for Thursday 9 February has been cancelled as clashes with an Insight Evening at the Opera House.

Meetings 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.

The Royal Ballet
In addition to those dancers who left The Royal Ballet earlier in the season, First Artists Sian Murphy, who has retired after 20 years, and Sander Blommaert, who joined in 2010, have left the Company. We sent cards and gifts to both and hope to give news of the next stage in their careers in a later newsletter. We wish them both every success in the future.

The Company has announced promotions and joiners for the 2016/17 season. Alexander Campbell, Francesca Hayward, Ryoichi Hirano and Akane Takada have been promoted to Principal; Claire Calvert, Yasmine Naghdi and Beatriz Stix-Brunell to First Soloist; Matthew Ball, Tierney Heap and Mayara Magri to Soloist; and Reece Clarke, David Donnelly, Benjamin Ella, Isabella Gasparini, Anna Rose O’Sullivan and Demelza Parish to First Artist.

Joining the Company at the start of the season as Artists will be Joseph Sissens from The Royal Ballet School, Leticia Dias Domingues from Birmingham Royal Ballet and formerly The Royal Ballet School and all the 2015/16 Aud Jebsen Young Dancers – Lukas Bjørneboe Brændsrød, Harry Churches, Leo Dixon, Isabel Lubach and Julia Roscoe. Mica Bradbury also joined the Company mid-season as an Artist.

Joining the 2016/17 Aud Jebsen Young Dancers Programme, all from The Royal Ballet School, are Joseph Aumeer, Estelle Bovay, Maria Luisa Castillo Yoshida, Arianna Maldini, Giacomo Rovero, Francisco Serrano and Charlotte Tonkinson. Vicenzo Di Primo joins as Prix de Lausanne dancer. Charlotte Edmonds will continue for a second year on The Royal Ballet Young Choreographer Programme. We congratulate them all and wish them every success.

Birmingham Royal Ballet
Birmingham Royal Ballet has announced the following promotions and joiners. Samara Downs and Céline Gittens are promoted to Principal; Delia Matthews to first Soloist; Feargus Campbell, Brandon Lawrence, Valentin Olovyannikov, Yaoqian Shang and Yijing Zhang to Soloist; and Reina Fuchigami, Jade Heusen, Max Maslen and Lachlan Monaghan to First Artist. Gabriel Anderson and Aitor Galende from The Royal Ballet School and Tim Dutson from English National Ballet School join as Artists and Johanne Monfret from The Royal Ballet School joins as an Apprentice. We congratulate them all.

After thirteen years with the Company, twelve as Principal, Elisha Willis retired at the end of the Season to pursue a career in costume making. Also leaving at the end of the Season were Jonathan Caguioa to undertake a Pilates teaching course, Oliver Till who is moving to the United States to pursue different opportunities, Leticia Dias Domingues to join The Royal Ballet and Luke Schaufuss who joins Scottish Ballet as a Soloist. Steven Monteith, who left earlier this Season is currently studying for the Professional Dancers’ Teaching Diploma at the Royal Academy of Dance.

The Royal Ballet School
Members will have enjoyed the impressive Royal Ballet School performances both in Holland Park and at the Royal Opera House. Our Chairman attended Graduation after the Opera House matinée. Two of our former award recipients graduated: 2014 winner Kiely Groenewegan from Australia is joining the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company and 2015 winner Gabrielle Beach from the USA joins Boston Ballet II. We wish them every success in the future. Joshua Junker and Yuki Sugiura, the other two award winners in 2015, move into their graduate year in September.

A few days before graduation, our Chairman attended the students’ final assembly of the year to present the Ballet Association’s 2016 Royal Ballet School Awards. This year’s recipients were First Years Julia Conway from the USA and Harrison Lee from Australia and Second Year Feng Haoliang from China. Following discussions with the School, our awards of £600 each, will no longer be used to sponsor the students. Instead, each student will be able to choose how to spend their award, as long as it is 'arts related' in some way. Many members will have seen Harrison and Julia perform in Les Patineurs as the Blue Boy and one of the Blue Girls.

We have received cards from all three students:

Thank you for your generosity. I am so honoured to have received the Ballet Association Award this year. I hope that I can be a good representative of the school and I plan on working my hardest to continue improving my dancing. I am so thankful and grateful for the bursary. It will make a big difference to my studies.
Thank you again and best wishes, Julia Conway.

I would like to thank you all so much for your generosity. I’m extremely honoured and grateful to have received the award. I know it will help me tremendously next year.
Best wishes Harrison Lee.

Thank you so much for giving me this award. It’s a surprise packet. Even now I still can’t believe it was me. I’m really happy. I’m so proud of me, because I think an Asian receiving this award is very rare. I hope to have time to talk with you in future. Huge thank you again. Also I hope you have a great summer.
Best wishes Feng Haoliang.

Members will have the opportunity to meet the students after Christmas when they will attend our annual meeting with one of their teachers.

As you will have seen above, one of our former award recipients Harry Churches joins The Royal Ballet at the start of the new season. We are delighted to announce that another former recipient Shiori Kase has just been promoted to Principal at English National Ballet.

The Ballet Association annual visit to BRB and Elmhurst School for Dance
Once again we had a very successful visit to Birmingham in June, during which we watched a performance by Birmingham Royal Ballet of the Shakespeare Triple Bill – Wink, a new ballet choreographed by Jessica Lang around Shakespeare’s Sonnets, José Limón’s The Moor’s Pavane and David Bintley’s The Shakespeare Suite. About 45 members participated in some of the visit with most staying at the IBIS hotel.  More than half of the group started with a late lunch in the Italian restaurant Milano, after which we moved into a studio in the Hippodrome for a pre-performance talk by Soloist Delia Mathews and Artists Ana Albutashvili and Yaoqian Shang. All three were delightful and gave us an entertaining account of their very varied training and careers, starting in New Zealand, Georgia and China respectively. At the performance that followed we were able to spot them in The Shakespeare Suite. We are very grateful to Birmingham Royal Ballet for arranging this talk and presented a cheque towards the Director’s Appeal after the event.

After a leisurely breakfast, the next morning, the group descended on Elmhurst School for Dance in time for coffee, during which, those who hadn’t visited previously, were taken on a guided tour of the school. As always, we were made very welcome by our President Robert Parker. After break we observed David Yow take class with Second Year Sixth Form Boys. During an excellent lunch we presented the Ballet Association Elmhurst Award to Second Year Sixth student Connor Williams, who will be using the award to help him enter the Genée Competition in Australia. Following lunch, we observedSixth Form Students rehearse Kenneth MacMillan’s Elite Syncopations which they were to perform as part of their Summer Syncopations programme at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. The rehearsal was led by Ballet Teacher James Grundy. After the rehearsal, members participated in a short Question and Answer session with Robert, at which we presented the School with the proceeds of a collection held during lunch. As always, we had an excellent day at Elmhurst and were made feel very welcome by all the staff and students. Those who were able to watch the School performances some three weeks later will have been impressed by the wide variety of dance styles that were on display, including Flamenco, contemporary and Asian Dance as well as ballet.

We hope that next year’s trip to Birmingham will be at a similar time, probably 22nd and 23rd June to see the Three Short Story Ballets Triple Bill – Le Baiser de la fée, Pineapple Poll and Arcadia. Details will be provided later in the year.

Birmingham Royal Ballet Director’s Appeal
As in previous years we have made donations towards the Director’s Appeal, which this year is supporting Birmingham Royal Ballet’s The Tempest. In total, we will have donated £1000, part of which was our “Thank you” donation following the Annual Visit. As a thank you for our support, we receive a couple of invitations to attend working rehearsals in the Birmingham Hippodrome. For next season these are:

The Tempest – Thursday 29th September 2016 – 7.00pm
The Nutcracker – Thursday 24th November 2016 – 7.00pm
Cinderella – Tuesday 14th February 2017 – 7.00pm
Coppélia – Monday 12th June 2017 – 7.00pm
Baiser Triple Bill – Tuesday 20th June 2017 – 7.00pm

If you would like to use the Association’s Gold Barre ticket for any of these rehearsals please let our Chairman know. We will hold a ballot for the tickets where necessary. 

Open Rehearsal – The Royal Ballet
On Thursday 19 May, around 150 members were privileged to attend a studio rehearsal of Kenneth MacMillan’s The Invitation, where we watched Gary Harris, who was restaging the ballet, and Assistant Ballet Master Jonathan Howells rehearse the two casts of the ballet and their covers in nearly all the pas de deux. Gary Harris danced with London Festival Ballet and on the West End stage before joining The Royal Ballet in 1991 as notator and repetiteur, working with Kenneth MacMillan and William Forsythe. Between 2001 and 2010 he was Associate Director of Hong Kong Ballet and Artistic Director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet. We were very honoured to watch him rehearse, Gary Avis, Zenaida Yanowsky, Francesca Hayward, Vadim Muntagirov, Tom Whitehead, Olivia Cowley, Yasmine Naghdi, David Donnelly and their covers.

We are very grateful to all involved in the rehearsal, our Patron Kevin O’Hare and Artistic Scheduling Manager Philip Mosley for granting us this opportunity to observe dancers rehearsing. This is the third year that we have had this privilege, watching rehearsals of In the Night and Afternoon of a Faun last year and The Dream the previous season. At his talk, Kevin indicated that he hoped to be able to arrange something for next season, though this may depend upon the situation with building works at the Opera House.

Chance to Dance
Members may remember that following David Pickering’s talk to the Association last summer we made a donation of £500 towards Chance to Dance. Your committee decided to do so again this year. David writes:

I have just received the very generous donation for Chance to Dance from The Ballet Association. I am so grateful that you recognise and support this project. It is most certainly appreciated and valued and I hope it can be ongoing.

We hope to arrange a future meeting with David and Chance to Dance teacher and former ENB dancer Patrick Lewis later next season.  

Annual Dinner 2016
Once again we had an excellent Annual Dinner in May. As our President Dame Monica Mason wrote afterwards, “It seemed a particularly jolly one”. During the dinner we marked the retirement from dancing with the Company of Leanne Cope, Genesia Rosato and Ricardo Cervera, and celebrated the 90th birthday year of Sir Peter Wright and members Frances Cowen and Geoffrey Griffiths.
The final guest list was: Kevin O’Hare, Christopher Powney, Jonathan Cope, Dame Monica Mason, Christopher Saunders, Sir Peter Wright, Lesley Collier, Philip Mosley, Johanna Adams Farley, Ricardo Cervera, Paul Lewis, Matthew Golding, Laura Morera, Thiago Soares, Genesia Rosato, Johannes Stepanek, Akane Takada, Valentino Zucchetti, Leanne Cope, Fumi Kaneko, Paul Kay, Mayara Magri, Tomas Mock, Grace Blundell, Reece Clarke, Ashley Dean, Benjamin Ella, Anna Rose O’Sullivan and Mariko Sasaki.

As usual, we had photographs taken of the guests on each table during the evening. The photos will be available for members to purchase at the next few meetings and some are on our website.

CHAIRMAN: David Bain, 23 Capstan Square, Stewart Street, London E14 3EU 
Tel: 020 7515 1254 Mobile: 07855 823 921
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