Alexander Grant 1925-2011
Robert Parker, new Artistic Director for Elmhurst School
• Degas and the Ballet exhibition
• Performing Arts on Film & TV Catalogue
• RB 2011/2012 Period 2 casting
• Kevin O'Hare to be next RB Director
• RBS Summer Performances
Keith Money photo essay on Christopher Gable



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news: May - Oct 2011

October 3 2011
Alexander Grant (1925–2011)

(Royal Ballet press release)

The Royal Ballet is deeply saddened to hear of the death of Alexander Grant, who died on Friday 30 September, aged 86.

Director of The Royal Ballet, Monica Mason said of the news:

“Alexander Grant’s death is a great loss to The Royal Ballet in whose history he holds a unique place. As a dancer he created many roles for Frederick Ashton and returned often to work with today’s dancers on those roles. We also welcomed him back regularly as the custodian of La Fille mal gardée, and this season’s revival of the ballet in April and May of next year will be dedicated to his memory.”

Alexander Grant
Alexander Grant as Tirrenio in Sir Frederick Ashton's Ondine, a role he danced from the première in 1958 until 1966. Photo by Frederika Davis.

Alexander Grant was born in Wellington, New Zealand in 1925. He started dance classes, aged 7, later winning a scholarship from the Royal Academy of Dance to study in England. However, Grant remained in New Zealand due to the outbreak of World War II, eventually taking a place at the Sadler's Wells Ballet School in 1946, when he was 21. Within a short time, he became a founder member of the Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet, and during his first tour with the company, transferred to the parent company at the Royal Opera House, today's Royal Ballet. He was later promoted to the rank of soloist, and during his career with The Royal Ballet became noted for his interpretation of character roles, creating many roles for Frederick Ashton, The Royal Ballet’s Founder Choreographer. One of the most famous roles he created was Alain in La Fille mal gardée, a rich farmer’s son who is rejected by Lise, a widow’s daughter who finally marries her poor sweetheart. For five years from 1971, Grant directed The Royal Ballet’s popular touring offshoot, Ballet For All. In 1976, he moved to Toronto to take up the position of Artistic Director of the National Ballet of Canada which he held until 1983.

He is survived by his partner of 54 years Jean-Pierre Gasquet, and his brother Garry Grant, also a former dancer of The Royal Ballet.

Obituaries: New York Times, Telegraph, Guardian, The Arts Desk

September 19 2011
Robert Parker to be new Artistic Director of Elmhurst School for Dance

Following an extensive search, Elmhurst School for Dance, in association with Birmingham Royal Ballet, is pleased to announce the appointment of Robert Parker to the role of Artistic Director, effective from September 2012.

Currently a Principal dancer with Birmingham Royal Ballet, Parker will bring vast industry experience to the school and will share with students and staff his sound technique and extensive knowledge of dance repertory. After almost two decades of Birmingham Royal Ballet performances, national and international gala performances, dance education work and strong links across the dance arena he will deliver an artistic direction that will continue to build on Elmhurst ’s first-class reputation within local, national and international communities.

Born in Hull, Parker trained at The Royal Ballet School and joined Birmingham Royal Ballet in 1994. He received early acclaim when he danced the Second Seminarian in Carmina burana at the Royal Opera House in 1996. Promoted to Principal in 1999, his charismatic stage presence and energy have led to the creation of a number of roles on him, including Hamlet in The Shakespeare Suite, Arthur and Mordred in Arthur, the Beast in Beauty and the Beast, the lead in Kim Brandstrup's Pulcinella and the title role in Cyrano. He has also excelled in such varied repertory as the Young Man in The Two Pigeons, Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, the Hoofer in Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, and Twyla Tharp's In the Upper Room.

Robert Parker
Robert Parker as Cyrano (with Valentin Olovyannikov). Photo ©Bill Cooper

Parker has recently completed the Birmingham Royal Ballet and University of Birmingham dancers’ degree programme and will graduate in December 2011 as a Master of Philosophy in Education Studies (Dance).

Jessica Ward, Principal of Elmhurst School for Dance said:
‘I am delighted to announce the appointment of Robert Parker to the role of Artistic Director. It will be a privilege for the students and staff to have the opportunity to work with such a celebrated dancer. During this transitional period for Elmhurst, stability and consistency remain my number one priority and I fully believe the school has never been better equipped to manage a smooth handover in artistic leadership following in the footsteps of Desmond Kelly. I am delighted that Mr Kelly will remain in close contact with the school as an Artistic Advisor.’

David Bintley, Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet and Artistic Advisor to Elmhurst said:
‘With his experience, knowledge and history of working with Birmingham Royal Ballet, I am delighted that Robert has agreed to accept the position of Elmhurst 's Artistic Director from September 2012. I believe Robert’s outstanding dance experience, youth, energy, imagination and charisma are just what are needed to take what is already an established and successful school to the next level at this crucial time in its history. I look forward to working with him to deliver first-class dance training to the next generation of dance artists.’

Robert Parker, new Artistic Director from September 2012 said:
‘I am thrilled to be Elmhurst 's Artistic Director effective from September 2012 and I look forward to new and exciting challenges ahead. Under the artistic direction of Desmond Kelly, Elmhurst has gone from strength to strength and I hope to build upon his outstanding contribution to nurture and produce some of the finest classical and contemporary dancers in the world. After a rewarding 18-year career with Birmingham Royal Ballet, my aim is to utilise my experience and passion for dance to train a future generation of dancers and prepare them for the realities of a professional career. Based on my close working relationship with David Bintley, I plan to strengthen the school's association with Birmingham Royal Ballet, providing students with a direct link to the company and the wider dance world. I am very much looking forward to working with Jessica Ward and the dedicated Elmhurst staff and students to further the aims of the school.’

Press release

August 26 2011
Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement

Royal Academy of Arts, London, Sept 17 – Dec 11 2011

The Royal Academy of Arts will stage a landmark exhibition focusing on Degas’ preoccupation with movement as an artist of the dance. The exhibition will trace the development of the artist's ballet imagery throughout his career and it will be the first to present Degas progressive engagement with the figure in movement in the context of parallel advances in photography and film. By presenting the artist in this context, the exhibition will demonstrate that Degas was far more than merely the creator of beautiful images of the ballet, but instead a modern, radical artist who thought profoundly about visual problems and was fully attuned to the technological developments of his time.

The Royal Academy has generously given us two pairs of tickets for the exhibition which we will raffle at our meeting on October 6. If you are a member and would like to be entered for the draw but are unable to attend the meeting please email David Bain.

Edgar Degas Two Dancers on the Stage, c. 1874. Oil on canvas, 61.5 x 46 cm. The Samuel Courtauld
Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London

Dance to the music of time - comprehensive piece in the RA Magazine, Autumn 2011
Workers Wearing Toeshoes - article on Degas by Alastair Macaulay in the New York Times 2/9/11
The Royal Ballet's Sarah Lamb talks about the exhibition to the Guardian 27.9.11
Further details of the exhibition on the RA website

July 27 2011
The Performing Arts on Film & Television Catalogue

The Performing Arts on Film & Television Catalogue was commissioned as an Arts Council England initiative to support projects and develop strategies that promote engagement with the arts through the moving image.
Performing Arts Catalogue
Margot Fonteyn in The Little Ballerina, 1947

The catalogue documents the histories of theatre, acting, dance, music, performance art and oratory (from politics to poetry) on film and television, referencing some 3,500 film and video titles held by the archives and collections of the British Film Institute, Arts Council England, LUX and Central St Martins British Artists Film & Video Study Collection.

This ACE-funded resource for programmers, curators, researchers, students, performers, practitioners, artists and filmmakers, is now downloadable for free from the BFI website to encourage engagement between the arts and the moving image. Click here to download a copy of The Performing Arts on Film & Television Catalogue.

July 14 2011
Royal Ballet 2011/2012 Period 2 casting

(m = matinée)

Triple bill November 19-30
Asphodel Meadows
Lamb, Cope, Choe, Stepanek, Martin, McRae (Nov 19m, 23, 29)
Nuñez, Rojo, Morera, Pennefather, Gartside, Cervera (Nov 19, 24, 30)
Enigma Variations
Saunders, Arestis*, Gartside, Loots, Cervera, McCulloch (Nov 19m, 23, 29)
Saunders, Arestis, Gartside, Marquez, Watson, Mendizabal* (Nov 19, 24, 30)
Benjamin, Watson, Kish* (Nov 19m, 23, 29)
Lamb, Acosta, Soares (Nov 19, 24, 30)
Asphodel Meadows
Asphodel Meadows. Photo Johan Persson ©ROH/Johan Persson 2010. More photos

Romeo and Juliet January 10-19, March 3-21
Rojo, Acosta (Jan 10, 19)
Lamb, Bonelli (Jan 12, 16)
Nuñez, Soares (Jan 13)
Cojocaru, Kobborg (Mar 3m, 7)
Marquez, McRae (Mar 8, 21)
Hamilton*, Watson (Mar 10m)
Cuthbertson, Bonelli (Mar 10, 22)
Benjamin, Watson (Mar 24, 31)

Double bill February 1 - March 3
The Dream
Cojocaru, McRae (Feb 1, 6)
Cojocaru, Gomes‡ (Feb 9)
Marquez, McRae (Feb 2m, 8; Mar 5)
Song of the Earth
Rojo, Pennefather*, Acosta (Feb 1, 6)
Benjamin, Hristov, Watson (Feb 2m, 8)
Nuñez*, Kish*, Acosta (Feb 9; Mar 5)
Singers (all performances): Katharine Goeldner, Toby Spence (replaced by Tom Randle on Feb 8 & March 5)

† all casting is subject to change so please check on the Royal Opera House website
* denotes a debut in the role
‡ guesting from American Ballet Theater

June 14 2011
Kevin O'Hare appointed Royal Ballet's next Director

Simon Robey, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Royal Opera House, announced today the appointment of Kevin O’Hare as Director of The Royal Ballet following the retirement of Dame Monica Mason in July 2012. Kevin O’Hare has been Administrative Director of the Company since 2009.

On his appointment Kevin O’Hare said: “This is a great honour for me. Under Monica Mason’s inspired leadership The Royal Ballet has had a great ten years. I am equally ambitious for the Company and dance in general. I plan to bring together the most talented artists of the 21st century to collaborate on the same stage – world class dancers, choreographers, designers, and musicians. I will aim to use all the traditional and new platforms now available to engage our audiences in our classic repertoire, and The Royal Ballet’s unique heritage. I want to continue to invigorate audiences with new work and emerging talents and I am thrilled that Wayne McGregor and Christopher Wheeldon - two of the world’s leading choreographers - have agreed to join me and Jeanetta Laurence, Associate Director to become part of the senior artistic team. Both Wayne and Christopher share my exciting ambitions for the Company.”
Kevn O'Hare. Photo: Sim Canetty-Clarke ©ROH/Sim Canetty-Clarke 2011

Kevin was trained at The Royal Ballet School, joining Sadlers Wells Royal Ballet in 1984, becoming a Principal with Birmingham Royal Ballet (BRB), as it then became, in 1990. His repertory included all the leading classical roles and works by Balanchine, Cranko, Van Manen, Tudor and Tharp. He also created many roles, working with Ashton, De Valois, MacMillan, David Bintley, and Peter Wright. He retired from dancing in 2000 to work with the Royal Shakespeare Company, training in Company management. He returned to BRB in 2001 as Company Manager, and joined The Royal Ballet as Company Manager in 2004, becoming Administrative Director in 2009. Kevin served on the Board of Governors of the Royal Ballet School 2000 – 2009.

Tony Hall, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House, added, “All of us were impressed by Kevin’s outstanding vision for building on the achievements of the last ten years. Kevin has a fantastic track record as a dancer, and understands the importance of nurturing dancers at all levels of the Company. He has championed a range of new choreographic initiatives, and possesses all the skills needed to be a visionary artistic leader and producer. I look forward enormously to working with him in this new role.”

Simon Robey said, “I would like to thank my colleagues on the search committee, Michael Berkeley, David Clementi, Nicholas Hytner, Peter Wright, Tony Hall and Robert Wallace for all their work on what was a rigorous and exhaustive world wide search. We have seen some outstanding candidates over the past few weeks and it is a pleasure to be able to announce that the right person for this important position has a life long knowledge and first hand experience of the Company and its repertoire, as well as having some great plans for the future.”

Michael Berkeley, Chairman of the Governors of The Royal Ballet also confirmed, “Kevin, like Monica, has made a happy transition from dancer to senior management where he has shone brightly. His plans build not only on the great heritage of The Royal Ballet but look forward to a new partnership with two of the world’s outstanding choreographers.”

ROH press release (pdf)
Kevin O'Hare brief bio & our 2009 interview

May 9 2011
Royal Ballet School Summer Performances

Linbury Studio Theatre, June 29 - July 2
Programme includes:
En Bateau - Choreography: David Bintley; Music: Claude Débussy
Monotones II - Choreography: Frederick Ashton; Music: Erik Satie
The Four Seasons (excerpt) - Choreography: Kenneth MacMillan; Music: Giuseppe Verdi
Spring & Fall - Choreography: John Neumeier; Music: Antonin Dvorak
Opus 1 - Choreography: John Cranko; Music: Anton Webern
Danse Bohémienne - Choreography: Liam Scarlett; Music: Georges Bizet
The Nutcracker, Waltz of the Flowers - Choreography: Peter Wright; Music: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Swan Lake, Act I pas de quatre - Choreography: Frederick Ashton; Music: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Memory of Touch - Choreography: Lachlan Monaghan (2nd year, Upper School); Music: Daniel Bernard Roumain
M’ ca cre sabi - Choreography: Marcelino Sambé (1st year, Upper School; 2nd prize, 2011 Ursula Moreton Choreographic Award); Music: Barbatuques, Claire Pichet and Yann Tiersen

Royal Opera House main stage, July 8
Programme includes:
Checkmate - Choreography: Ninette de Valois; Music: Sir Arthur Bliss
En Bateau
Monotones II
The Four Seasons (excerpt)
Spring & Fall
Opus 1
Danse Bohémienne
Grand défilé - Choreography: Teachers of The Royal Ballet School; Music: Karl Czerny

Further details in ROH blog

Grand DefiléThe Grand Defilé. Photo ©ROH/Johan Persson 2010

May 3 2011
Keith Money - Christopher Gable: The Dancer from the Dance

The distinguished ballet, theatre and documentary photographer Keith Money has made his 279 page book available for free download in pdf format.
In the author's words: "The major portion of this volume comprises a photographic essay which focusses on the complex art of balletic partnership, as exemplified by one particular dancer, Christopher Gable, whose brief yet extraordinary dancing career, principally in the early sixties, brought fresh emphasis to the nuances inherent in ballet double work…"

Christopher Gable

Christopher Gable (1940-1998) trained at the Royal Ballet School and joined Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet in 1957, being promoted to Principal in 1961. He danced with the Royal Ballet until his retirement in 1967 subsequently following an acting career, jointly founding the Central School of Ballet and working as Artistic Director of Northern Ballet Theatre.
Keith Money, photographer, writer and painter is probably best known for his photo essays Fonteyn and Nureyev: The Great Years and The Art of the Royal Ballet. Details of other publications for download, more information and a trove of other photographs is available here.