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March/April 2016 newsletter

SINCE OUR LAST NEWSLETTER we have had three excellent meetings. In February it was a pleasure to welcome The Royal Ballet’s Resident Choreographer Wayne McGregor as our guest. Wayne spoke at length about his new work Obsidian Tear, Raven Girl and Woolf Works, as well as talking of plans for next season and other works he has choreographed for The Royal Ballet and companies around the world. The night before the meeting he had returned from Birmingham, where he had been working on the choreography for the upcoming Brit Awards. As we expected, Wayne provided us with a fascinating insight into choreographing and indicated how much he appreciates constructive feedback on his work. We are very grateful to him for finding time to talk to us in his busy schedule. Mostly recently he has been in Houston, where they performed Dyad 1929.

At our first March meeting, after a slightly delayed start, we were entertained by First Soloist Ryoichi Hirano. Ryoichi spoke about his training in Japan at his mother’s ballet school, his older brother who until recently danced in Canada and entering the Prix de Lausanne, where he won a scholarship to The Royal Ballet. He then spoke of his experience as the Company’s first apprentice and frustration during his early years at not being cast in solo roles. However, opportunities arose when others were injured, including in Prince of the Pagodas and Song of the Earth. This season has seen many roles, including Albrecht, which he first danced as a guest with Norwegian Ballet and dances with The Royal over Easter, Polixenes in The Winter’s Tale and the Monster in Frankenstein.

At our second March meeting, we welcomed soloist Christina Arestis shortly before her debut as Paulina in The Winter’s Tale and as Frankenstein’s mother. From a small school behind a carpet shop in Glasgow, via Cyprus and the Middle East, Christina arrived at the Royal Ballet School, where she danced Clara with the Company and created the lead role in Matthew Hart’s Simple Symphony. Christina spoke about the different aspects of her long career, especially preparing for her range of character roles and juggling motherhood whilst performing. We were provided with an 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 Friday 22 April we are delighted to welcome Soloist Fumi Kaneko as our guest. Fumi trained in Osaka, Japan, joining the Company there in 2010, before joining The Royal during the 2010/11 season. She won the gold medal at the Varna International Ballet Competition in 2008 and silver medals in Moscow in 2009 and the USA in 2010. In Japan she danced the Sugar Plum Fairy and Kitri, roles which she has since danced in London, although injury whilst dancing the latter interrupted her career for nearly a year. She has danced roles across the repertoire, including, recently, the Gypsy Girl in Two Pigeons and works by Liam Scarlett and Wayne McGregor. We can expect an very interesting evening.

The meeting scheduled for Thursday 5 May has been cancelled.

At our meeting on Thursday 19 May we are very pleased to welcome back our Patron and Royal Ballet Director Kevin O’Hare. Keeping up the custom set by his predecessor, Kevin has agreed to talk to us every couple of years. He will look back over the last two seasons, which included Rhapsody to which the Association had donated towards the revival of the original sets and costumes. He will also look forward to next season and to 2017 which will mark the 25th anniversary of Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s death. Since Kevin became Director, the Company has performed much new work and we can expect an interesting evening discussing his plans for the future.  

Please note that the date for our June meeting has changed and will now be Friday 17th June rather than Wednesday 8 June, in order not to clash with an Insight evening. 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.

Members will have heard that Principal Character Artist Genesia Rosato retired from the Royal Ballet after 40 years in the Company at the beginning of March. We have sent a present to Genesia, a cheque with which she will purchase a gift of her choice. She writes:

Thank you so much for the lovely card and very kind gift. I would be honoured to join you all both at the annual dinner and the talk. I will of course let you know when I purchase my gift. I look forward to seeing you all on the 10th of May. Very best wishes, Genesia.

Genesia will come to talk to us at our June meeting.

Members will be sorry to hear of the death of long term member Brenda Naylor. A sculptor, Brenda regularly attended meetings and dinners and will be sadly missed. She died at Charing Cross Hospital in the early hours of 11 March of a blood clot in her lungs following a major operation. We have sent our condolences. She has requested a green burial, which will take place at midday on Friday 1st April at Westmill Burial Ground, Highworth, Wilts, SN6 7PU with refreshments after. Brenda has requested no flowers or donations. Her relatives plan to hold a celebration of her life in London, probably in May or June. If you wish to be kept informed of arrangements or are going to the funeral, please inform our Chairman.

Former Royal Ballet dancer Ludovic Ondiviela has choreographed a new piece in association with Amnesty International. Sliver of Sky will be performed on Sunday 24 April at 6.00pm at the Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells. The cast includes Lauren Cuthbertson and Matthew Ball, as well as dancers from English National Ballet and Rambert. Tickets are now on sale.

Open Rehearsal – The Royal Ballet
Clore Studio, Thursday 19 May 12.00-13.30
We are delighted to announce that The Royal Ballet would like once again to welcome Ballet Association members to attend a rehearsal in the Clore Studio on Thursday 19 May. It is a great privilege to be invited to watch a rehearsal during the Company’s normal working day. Two seasons ago, we watched a rehearsal of The Dream and last year Jerome Robbins’ In the Night and Afternoon of a Faun. We will confirm the content of this year’s rehearsal nearer the date. There are approximately 150 places for members only. These will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. If you would like to attend, please apply to our Chairman, David Bain, 23 Capstan Square, Stewart Street, London E14 3EU, enclosing a stamped addressed envelope for return of your ticket. There is no charge for this event. However, you will remember that at the start of this season we asked all members to make a donation to the Association so that we can sponsor another Royal Ballet production, as we did this season with Rhapsody. We would like to sponsor a piece every other year. If you did not make a donation when you renewed or joined, we would ask you to enclose one with your application for this event, making the cheque payable to The Ballet Association.  

Annual Dinner 2016
As advertised in our last newsletter, 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 8pm.  A private bar is available from 7pm. The cost this year will be £40, the same as last year. There are still tickets available, so if you have not yet booked, please do so as soon as possible. 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 complete the linked 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. 

Annual Visit to Elmhurst School for Dance & BRB, 23-24 June 2016
About forty members have already booked for all or part of our annual visit to Birmingham. There are a few places left, but we need to confirm our theatre booking by 20th April. So if you are interested in attending, please complete the form that was attached to the last two newsletters and return to the Chairman along with a cheque for the deposit of £15 per person. Please note, there was an error on the form. The price for performance tickets is £17.85, not £18.75 as stated.

Our two days will start with a late lunch around 2.30pm or 3pm on Thursday 23rd. Time and venue to be confirmed. Check-in time at the IBIS hotel is 2pm, so you can check-in prior to a meal. Birmingham Royal Ballet has now confirmed that we will have an interview with one of their dancers in a studio from 5.30-6.30pm. The identity of the dancer will be announced once casting is known for performances that day.
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 £17.85.

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, we will arrange transportation from the IBIS Hotel at about 9.45am 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.

Any members of the group who choose to remain in Birmingham for an extra night are invited by BRB to join BRB Friends in watching class on stage on the Saturday morning from 11.45am-1.00pm. If you would like to take advantage of this offer, please let the Chairman know.

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 at 9am-3pm
As advertised in the last newsletter, 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. Places are filling fast. We will not be issuing tickets. Places will be confirmed by email (or post) at the start of April. Your name will be placed on a list, which will be held at the door. If a 9.00 am 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.

If you would like to attend, please send your name, address and contact details (preferably an e-mail address) to David Bain, Chairman, The Ballet Association, 23 Capstan Square, Stewart Street, London E14 3EU. The cost of the visit will be £15.00. 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 e-mail 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.

2015 Royal Ballet School Award Winners
We have received an Easter card from two of our award winners, Joshua Junker and Yuki Sugiura. The third, Gabrielle Beach is in the States auditioning. They write:

Dear Ballet Association. Thank you very much for the great support again. I appreciate it a lot. I enjoyed the talk with Mr Lewis and it was very nice to see some of you in the character class! We have been busy with assessments this term but it was fun and good for me! Now it is finally over I can enjoy my rest in Easter! Thank you so much again. Joshua Junker.

I’d like to again thank you for your support. The interview was a challenge as English isn’t my first language, but I enjoyed and received good feedback that has given me confidence. Assessment was tiring but I worked hard and feel I’ve done well. I’m looking forward to the Easter break, and I can’t wait to see the beautiful cherry blossom in Japan. Once again I’d like to thank you for your valued support and wish you a happy and healthy Easter, Yuki Suguira.

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