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January 2017 newsletter


WE WISH YOU A VERY BALLETIC NEW YEAR! There have been no meetings since the last newsletter. However, a large number of reports from earlier meetings have been posted in the archives on our website over the last few weeks. 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 Thursday 19 January we hold our annual meeting with our Royal Ballet School Award winners. So we are very pleased to welcome the 2016 winners, second years Julia Conway from the USA, Harrison Lee from Australia and third year Feng Haoliang from China. They will be escorted by the Royal Ballet School’s Character Dance teacher Amanda Maxwell who has worked with the students in their first and second years. Amanda trained at the Royal Ballet School and after a career dancing soloist and principal roles, she returned to the Upper School to teach character dance in 2003. Amanda was a founding member of Dance East Development Committee which led to the building of the Jerwood Dance House in Ipswich. Members who attended our visit to the Upper School last season will have been impressed by Amanda’s character class with second year boys. We can expect a fascinating evening. It is always a delight to hear from the students at this stage of their careers.

Our guest the next week on Wednesday 25 January will be former Royal Ballet First Artist James Wilkie who wrote thanking us for his leaving present in our last newsletter. James retired from the Company about this time last year to pursue a different path, which has included help in the mounting of the ballets of Sir Kenneth MacMillan. Like our November speaker, James was born in Bath. He joined The Royal Ballet in 2002, after having participated in the Salt Lake City cultural festival during that year’s Winter Olympics. His 13 years with the Company included many varied role including Puck, a Step-sister in Cinderella, Dormouse, Harlequin and in his final performances, a principal role in Jerome Robbin’s The Concert. As well as talking about his career, James will speak about the challenges involved in the transition from dancing. He will speak about his work over the last year, including mounting Manon in Romania. We can expect a fascinating evening. Please note that this meeting will be preceded at 6.00pm by a Bloomsbury Free Concert. If you wish to attend the concert, you will be very welcome; if not, please do not arrive before 6.50pm.
 
At our first meeting of the next month on Wednesday 1 February we welcome Principal Character Artist and Ballet Master Gary Avis as our guest. Amazingly it will be almost exactly nine years since Gary last spoke to the Association. Time flies! Gary originally joined The Royal Ballet in 1989 and was made Principal Character Artist in 2005 and Ballet Master in 2010. In 1999 he left to co-found K-Ballet in Japan and then did two years with English National Ballet before returning to The Royal Ballet in 2004. His partnership with Darcey Bussell included Christopher Wheeldon’s DGV: Danse à grande vitesse, the Viva la Diva tour, Strictly Come Dancing and the Olympics Closing Ceremony in 2012. He is a Patron of the Choreographic Development Fund at Dance East, the Wheelchair Dance Sport Association and Chelsea Ballet and is on the Board of Trustees of Dance East. In September, Gary Avis and Friends gave two very successful performances in Ipswich to raise money for the Community Foundation and Dance East. Still on stage in many performances, Gary is Ballet Master for many aspects of the Company repertoire. We can expect a very entertaining evening. Being a Wednesday, this meeting will also be preceded by a Free Concert, so please do not arrive before 6.50 unless you wish to attend the concert.
 
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.

Provisional dates for meetings during the rest of the season are: Thursday 2 March, Wednesday 22 March, Wednesday 5 April, Thursday 27 April, Wednesday 10 May, Wednesday 17 May, Friday 26 May, Thursday 1 June, Friday 9 June Please note that the meeting for Thursday 13 April has been cancelled as it coincides with an event 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.
 
Annual Dinner, Monday 27th March 2017
We are delighted to announce that this year’s Annual Dinner will be on Monday 27th March. This is earlier than usual, as we have tried to find a date this year when Birmingham Royal Ballet is not on tour. 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.

We regret the significant increase in the cost this year. After a few years where we have kept it around the same level, the hotel has changed its pricing structure after a multi-million pound refurbishment and they are also subject to increases in prices from suppliers. We will investigate alternative venues for future years, but the increase in price came too late to do anything about this year. However, this will be the 22nd year when the dinner has been at the Rubens and we have received excellent service, so hope members will consider it is worth paying the extra for what is always a very special evening.

We expect a heavy demand for tickets, so early application is advised. There will be a maximum of about 145 places for members and 35 for an exciting array of dancers of all ranks, Company management, etc. As always, we hope this will include any dancers who have announced that they are retiring. We will not be announcing the guest list until about the middle of March. You will then have an opportunity to let us know which dancers you would like to sit near.

Please complete the attached 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. 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.
 
News
We have sent congratulations to First Artists Nathalie Harrison and Lara Turk on the births of their daughter Zephyrine and son Rocco respectively.
 
Members will be saddened to hear of the death of designer Peter Farmer. His many designs for ballet companies around the world include those for The Royal Ballet’s current production of Sleeping Beauty based on those of Oliver Messel for the 1946 production.
 
Members may have heard that Zenaida Yanowsky has announced that she will step down as a Principal at the end of this season after 22 years with the Company. Her last performance will be as Paulina in The Winter’s Tale in Brisbane at the end of the Company’s tour in July. Before that she will create a central role in Liam Scarlett’s new ballet, the premiere of which is in May.
 
First Artist Hayley Forskitt has also announced that she is retiring from the Company. Her last performance will be as Carabosse in Sleeping Beauty on Friday 3rd March.
 
Amongst the Christmas cards we received this year was one from June Drew, widow of our Founder President David Drew. She writes:

Dear David and all the lovely members of The Ballet Association
Have a wonderful holiday. I have now finalised the The David Drew Choreographic Memorial Fund for the students of The Royal Ballet School. To be used for students to help them with funds for music, costumes, mentoring, etc. I think David would have approved. He so loved working with the students on the choreographic course. Many thanks for thinking of me.
Lots of love June Drew.

Members may remember that our present to David on his retirement was to help set up a music library for RBS students.
 
We also heard from Nastazia Philippou who won our award at Elmhurst Ballet School in 2011. Following a very successful time at the Romanian National Opera with Johan Kobborg, Nastazia joined the Royal Ballet of Flanders on a short term contract in September where she is dancing in Nutcracker and Spartacus, whilst auditioning for other more classical companies. She sends her regards to everyone in the Ballet Association.
 
Freed of London factory visit
Tuesday 21 February, 10.30-12. 62-64 Well Street, Hackney, London E9 7PX
 
There are 15 places available for this tour of the factory where BA members will be able to see for themselves the craftsmanship and pride that goes in to making those ballet shoes we only usually see from a distance! 
 
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 ba.events.sec@gmail.com or call her on 020 8941 1607 or 0785 569 3343 by the end of January at the latest please. 
 
An American in Paris
Dominion Theatre, Tottenham Court Road. Wednesday 29 March at 2pm or Thursday 4 May at 7.30

Following the engaging evening many of us enjoyed with Leanne Cope we are arranging to see this show that is transferring to London from Broadway. There will be two alternative dates to give people a bit more flexibility. There is also a choice of price based on a group booking of ten per price band: Band A tickets £45 (reduced from £62.50) or Band B £35 (reduced from £49.50).
 
Please email Ann Maclennan if interested by 16 January to ba.events.sec@gmail.com or call her on 020 8941 1607 or 0785 569 3343 specifying which date and which price band you prefer. If you have no preference please say so and that will help with planning.
 
Membership
If you have received this newsletter you have renewed your membership. There are always a few members who, despite reminders, forget to do so. So please check that your friends have done so, and please encourage others that you meet at performances to join. Thank you to all of you who have renewed and especially to the many of you who have made generous donations towards our next support to a work by The Royal Ballet.

Annual Visit to Elmhurst Ballet School and BRB, 22-23 June 2017
We are delighted to announce the arrangements for our annual visit to Elmhurst Ballet School and Birmingham Royal Ballet. If you are interested in attending, please complete the attached form 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 until the middle of February.
 
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.
 
Discounted rates on the railways become available 12 weeks in advance. Information at www.thetrainline.com. Senior railcard holders can obtain very cheap tickets from London, 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.
 
CHAIRMAN: David Bain
23 Capstan Square, Stewart Street, London E14 3EU Tel: 020 7515 1254                 
Mobile: 07855 823921 Email: baindavid23@talktalk.net or baindavid@rocketmail.com  

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