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February 2017 newsletter

SINCE OUR JANUARY NEWSLETTER we have had three excellent meetings. At the first, we welcomed The Royal Ballet School’s character dance teacher Amanda Maxwell, who escorted two of our 2016 award winners, second years Julia Conway from the USA and Harrison Lee from Australia. Unfortunately, Feng Haoliang, our third award winner was ill. They provided us with a fascinating evening. Amanda talked about her time as a student, her career as a dancer, including her time with Ballet for All and Northern Ballet. She then spoke about her work with The Royal Ballet School teaching character dance and her involvement with Dance East. Julia and Lee gave entertaining accounts of their training, which in Julia’s case had alternated between the USA and UK, and their success in competitions. Julia won at the Paris heat of Youth America Grand Prix, whilst Harrison won scholarships from YAGP in New York and Prix de Lausanne. They then talked of their time at RBS and being chosen to perform lead roles in Les Patineurs whilst in their first year and, in Julia’s case, performing in Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty over Christmas. 
At our second meeting of the year we welcomed back former First Artist James Wilkie, who retired from The Royal Ballet at the end of 2015. Currently, James is teaching students at Laine Theatre Arts in Epsom and children at a ballet school. However, his work over the last year has been very varied, including teaching in Romania, where he helped put on Manon. He is studying, both for a degree and for a diploma in choreology, and intends taking the RAD Teachers’ Course later in the year. He gave us a very entertaining evening, including an account of visiting Lapland to see Father Christmas with his mother. 
On 1st February, we welcomed Principal Character Artist and Ballet Master Gary Avis. Gary spoke about his galas in Ipswich earlier this season and being on the board of Dance East, before moving on to talk about his many roles within the Company. He considers his main role is as Principal Character Artist and had greatly enjoyed being in the revival of The Invitation. He spoke of the challenges as Ballet Master to ensure the wishes of the choreographer were passed on to new generations of dancers. Gary felt he had been fortunate in the ballerinas he had partnered, including most recently Alessandra Ferri in Woolf Works, a dancer he had idolized as a student. Those who had influenced his work included David Drew, Derek Rencher and Stephen Jefferies. Gary gave us a very entertaining evening, speaking with some emotion about aspects of his work.  
A summary report is available on our website,, once the report has been checked by the guest speaker/s.  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
On Friday 17 February, we are delighted to welcome Royal Ballet First Soloist Beatriz Stix-Brunell as our guest. Beatriz joined the Company in 2010 as an Artist and in the same year danced the lead in Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. She was promoted to Soloist in 2012 and First Soloist in 2016. Beatriz trained both in New York and Paris and was invited by Christopher to join Morphoses when only 14. Beatriz most recently has been seen as The Sugar Plum Fairy and Lilac Fairy. Her repertoire includes Princess Rose, Perdita, Raven Girl, the Young Girl in Two Pigeons, Olga and the Younger Sister in Las Hermanas. Her next performances will be in Woolf Works, The Human Seasons, After the Rain and in Emeralds in the 50th anniversary performances of Jewels. Beatriz last spoke to the Association just after her first show as Princess Rose in Prince of the Pagodas in 2012. Always a delight to talk to, we can expect an enjoyable evening. 

On Wednesday 22 March we have the pleasure of welcoming Royal Ballet Principal Zenaida Yanowsky, who retires at the end of this season. Born in Lyon, but brought up in Spain where she trained with her parents, Zenaida danced with Paris Opera Ballet for three years before joining The Royal Ballet in 1994 as a First Artist. She was promoted to Principal in 2001 and has performed roles across the Company’s repertoire as well as creating roles for a vast number of choreographers. These have included more recently, the title role in William Tuckett’s Elizabeth, for which she won the National Dance Award for Outstanding Female Performance (Classical), Paulina in The Winter’s Tale and Lise in Javier de Frutos’s Les Enfants Terribles. To complete this season, she dances in After the Rain, as Empress Elizabeth in Mayerling, a leading role in Liam Scarlett’s new Symphonic Dances to music by Rachmaninov and as Marguerite in Ashton’s Marguerite and Armand. The Association has sent Zenaida a leaving present. In replying to the invitation to talk, Zen wrote, “Also, please could you thank everyone at the Ballet Association for their very generous gift. I will of course say it personally in March but please send my advanced gratitude.”

Provisional dates for meetings during the rest of the season and beginning of next are: Thursday 27 April, Friday 26 May, Thursday 1 June, Thursday 24 August, Wednesday 6 September, Thursday 21 September.  Please note that the meetings for Thursday 2 March, Wednesday 5 April, Wednesdays 10 and 17 May and Friday 9 June have been cancelled as they coincide with performances or events 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.
Open Rehearsal – The Royal Ballet, Friday 3rd March 11.45 a.m. – 2.00 p.m.   
We are delighted to announce that The Royal Ballet would like, once again, to welcome Ballet Association members to attend a rehearsal. It is a great privilege to be invited to watch a rehearsal during the Company’s normal working day. Over the last three seasons, we have watched rehearsals in the Clore Studio of The Dream, Jerome Robbins’ In the Night and Afternoon of a Faun and, last year, The Invitation.  Unfortunately, this year, for Health and Safety reasons related to the building work currently happening in the House, we cannot access a studio during the day. Instead, the Company have invited us to watch a working rehearsal on stage with piano. The rehearsal will probably be Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain, although this could change. 

We apologise for the short notice, but are sure that members will keen to take up this generous offer from the Company to watch an early stage rehearsal. There are approximately 150 places for members to be seated in the front stalls. 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 last season with Rhapsody. We hope to sponsor a piece every other year. Therefore, we would ask you to enclose a small donation with your application for this event, making the cheque payable to The Ballet Association. We will present a cheque of £5,000 to our Patron, Kevin O’Hare, at the Annual Dinner, when Kevin will announce the work which we have agreed to sponsor for next season. 
Visit to the Royal Ballet Upper School, Wednesday 3rd May at 9.00am-3.30pm 
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 £15.00. 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 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 27 March. 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 27 March to confirm whether or not any guest places are available.

Annual Dinner Monday 27th March 2017
As announced in the last newsletter, this year’s Annual Dinner will be on Monday 27th March. 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 £49.50. 

There are still places available. If you would like to attend, please print and complete this 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. If you wish to pay by electronic transfer, please send the form and include an email address so that Mel can send you our bank details. Please then forward her evidence of the transfer.
We have invited an exciting list of guests. This will be sent to all those who receive newsletters by email about a week before the dinner. If you are attending, but don’t have email, please ring our Chairman after 20 March to find out who is attending. Any requests to sit with particular guests should be sent by 23 March.  

Addendum - March 21
I am delighted to announce the guest list for our Annual Dinner. There may be a few changes by the night. We are still waiting for replies from one or two dancers and illness or injury may result in last minute cancellations.

As always, we have a very exciting guest list. This includes:- our Patron Kevin O’Hare (Director of The Royal Ballet); our Presidents Jonathan Cope (Répétiteur), Dame Monica Mason (Former Director of The Royal Ballet), Robert Parker (Artistic Director, Elmhurst School for Dance and former Principal, BRB), Christopher Saunders (Senior Ballet Master and Principal Character Artist) and Marion Tait (Assistant Director, Birmingham Royal Ballet); Sir Peter Wright (Director Laureate, Birmingham Royal Ballet); Jeanetta Laurence (former Associate Director, The Royal Ballet); Elyse Borne (Répétiteur for the George Balanchine Trust); Christopher Powney (Director of The Royal Ballet School); Amanda Maxwell (Character Dance Teacher, The Royal Ballet School); Principals Alexander Campbell, Francesca Hayward and Ryoichi Hirano; First Soloists Bennet Gartside, Itziar Mendizabal and Johannes Stepanek; Soloists Matthew Ball, Meaghan Grace Hinkis and Thomas Whitehead; First Artist Romany Pajdak; Artists Mica Bradbury, Annette Buvoli, Harry Churches, Leticia Dias, Leo Dixon, Isabel Lubach, Julia Roscoe and Joseph Sissens.

Principal Zenaida Yanowsky, unfortunately, has a prior engagement that evening. Zenaida is most grateful to the Association members for all their wonderful support during her time with the Company. She would love to acknowledge this support in person and will attend the Drinks Reception from 7.00pm, though will have to leave around 7.45pm. I hope as many of you as possible will attend our meeting on 22 March to express our gratitude to Zenaida for all her wonderful performances.

If you have a preference for whose table you would like to be on, please let me know by Wednesday 22 March. Please give at least three preferences. If you give less than three, your request will be ignored.

During the last couple of weeks, Royal Ballet Principal Character Artist Alastair Marriott and Soloist Jonathan Howells were married, as were Soloist Olivia Cowley and former Artist Henry St Clair and former First Artist Sander Blommaert and his partner Philip Oliver. We send congratulations to them all. 
Balancé is a film telling the story of a working ballet dancer, Laura Purkiss, a soloist with Birmingham Royal Ballet and a working mum. You can see the preview on YouTube or go to her Facebook Page The film has been chosen to show at the Manchester International Film Festival and on the 9th February at the Seoul Lift-off Film Festival.
Former Royal Ballet Principal Sergei Polunin’s film Dancer is being shown at the London Palladium, Everyman Cinema and at Cineworld cinemas across the UK on March 2. It will be followed by Q&A and live performance at the Palladium.  On the same day, Ballet Black opens its new season at the Barbican Theatre. As we are sure members may wish to attend one or other event, we have cancelled our scheduled meeting on that day. 

My Tutu Went AWOL!
Iestyn Edwards, whom some of you will know from front of house at the Opera House many years ago, has recently published an e-book of his exploits as Madame Galina. If you are interested in supporting this project or wish to know more, please click on this link.

From an opera recital for Her Majesty in best bib and tucker to touring Iraq and Afghanistan in tutu, tights and tiara and becoming Forces’ Sweetheart, and a Gala performance, opposite Bridget Jones’s mum! Video    
The Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards 2016
At the Ceremony on the 6th February, Our Chairman presented the Award for Best Classical Choreography to Former Royal Ballet First Artist Jonathan Watkins for his 1984 for Northern Ballet.

Amongst the other winners were: 

Emerging Artist Award, The Royal Ballet’s First Artist Reece Clarke
Outstanding Female Performance (Classical), Zenaida Yanowsky in Elizabeth
The One Dance UK Industry Award, Brenda Last
Best Female Dancer, Francesca Hayward
Outstanding Company, English National Ballet
De Valois Award for Outstanding Achievement, Dame Beryl Grey

Annual Visit to Elmhurst Ballet School and BRB – 22-23 June 2017
In our last newsletter, we announced the arrangements for our annual visit to Elmhurst Ballet School and Birmingham Royal Ballet. There are a few spaces left. If you are interested in attending, please complete the form that was attached to the January newsletter and return 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 the form as soon as possible as our performance tickets are only on hold for a few more days. Please contact the Chairman if you need another form. 
As last year, we will start with a late lunch or very early supper on Thursday 22nd June, probably at a nearby Italian restaurant Milano. This will be followed by a pre-performance talk by some of BRB’s dancers. We have reserved seats for the evening performance of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Three Short Story Ballets programme at 7.30pm. The programme contains Arcadia, the first commissioned piece by Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Ruth Brill to a new score composed by renowned saxophonist John Harle; Michael Corder’s beautiful interpretation of the Hans Christian Anderson tale where a boy’s life is marked from the moment a fairy saves his life in the snow in Le Baiser de la fée; and finally the timeless choreography in John Cranko’s light-hearted Pineapple Poll. We have reserved seats in the Middle Stalls - rows P&Q (Please note row E is front row), Side Stalls – rows H-J, Side Circle Rows A-B. All seats are at a discounted group price of £17.85. 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 22 June, the room rate including breakfast is £54 for single occupancy and £60 for two persons (£30 each). If you do not want breakfast, the rate for the room is £48 for single or double occupancy. If you wish to come up the night before or stay an extra night after the rates are the same. We realise that this is slightly more expensive than last year for the Thursday night, although the same for the Wednesday night. If you would prefer a slightly cheaper option, rooms are available at the Travelodge round the corner from the IBIS.  
On Friday 23 June, following breakfast, at about 9.45 a.m, we will arrange transportation from the IBIS Hotel to Elmhurst Ballet School, 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 class 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. 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.  
Discounted rates on the railways become available 12 weeks in advance. Information at Senior railcard holders can obtain very cheap tickets from London, around £4-£5 each way. 
Freed of London factory visit
We have arranged a second visit to the Freed factory because the first was over subscribed on Tuesday 14 March, 10.30-12. The address is 62-64 Well Street, Hackney, London E9 7PX.
Freed of London has a long established tradition and is the world’s leading designer and manufacturer of professional dance shoes. Two thirds of all Freed’s classic pointe shoes are made to dancers’ specific requirements and as Freed supplies most major ballet companies worldwide they are worn by Prima Ballerinas the world over. 
As the factory is an old building it does not meet modern accessibility requirements and there are about ten steps up to the front door and once inside a flight of stairs down to the toilets. However the welcome will be warm and refreshments will be provided. Although Freed do not make a charge themselves we would ask for a donation of £12.50 to go to the BA’s funds for supporting young dancers. 
If you would like to come on this visit please email Ann Maclennan or call her on 020 8941 1607 to check there are still spaces.

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