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    March Newsletter

    In February, we welcomed former Royal Ballet and ABT dancer and freelance, New York based choreographer Gemma Bond as our guest. Her first work for the Royal Ballet, Boundless, as part of the Festival of New Choreography had received its premiere the previous week. Gemma spoke at length about the creation of the piece, the inspiration from watching her daughter and her friends create stories in the playground, the choice of music and designer.She wanted Charlotte MacMillan to design the costumes for a tutu ballet while looking at breaking the boundaries of the tutu so the men could get closer to the women. In creating the piece, Gemma first workshopped with around 30 dancers before choosing those who had responded best. It had been a pleasure to work with Yasmine Naghdi and Ryoichi. Ryo was the only one in the cast who had been in the Company when Gemma was.

    At the time of the meeting, Gemma had just started creating a piece for the men in the Royal Ballet Upper School. She had yet to choose the music or choose the cast of 20 from the 40 in the three years. Gemma then went on to talk about her creations in the States, Uruguay and Cuba. She has created two pieces for Sarasota Ballet in Florida. She then spoke briefly about her career as a dancer and how she had started choreographing.

    In March, we were delighted to welcome Soloist Sae Maeda and First Artist Harris Bell as our guests. A real-life couple, they first spoke about their roles in the upcoming performances of Swan Lake and the MacMillan programme. Sae is performing both solos in the Act I pas de trois as well as a cygnet amongst other roles. She spoke of the difficult counts in Danses Concertantes and Harris about the fun they were having with Different Drummer, with coach Gary Harris.

    Sae spoke of Clara, which she has performed a lot as one highlight of her career so far, though she hopes to dance Juliet one day. Both were involved in the creation of Wayne McGregor’s Untitled. Harris spoke of the privilege of being chosen for an important role in the piece, and the impact the first rehearsal had on his body as it was so different from other works. Both spoke about aspects of their training in Scotland and Japan and their journeys to the Royal Ballet School via Elmhurst and the Prix de Lausanne respectively. Sae has been chosen by ABT dancer Danill Simpkin to partner him in a gala in Italy and this July Sae and Harris will dance together in Gran Canaria. 

    Two of our 2023 Royal Ballet School award winners Yasemin Caynak and Sigurd Blystad were unable to attend our January meeting as they were away auditioning. They have both recorded messages for the Association.

    And Sigurd’s


    Future Meetings

    At our meeting on Monday 15th April, we are delighted to welcome Royal Ballet First Artists Joshua Junker  and Francisco Serrano.  Both are former winners of the Association’s Royal Ballet School Awards in 2016 and 2015 respectively and joined The Royal Ballet’s Aud Jebsen Young Dancer’s programme a year later. They were both promoted to First Artist in 2022.

    Our meeting on Tuesday 14th May  will be our biennial one with our Patron and Royal Ballet Director Kevin O’Hare.  As always, Kevin will look back over the last two years as well as looking forward to the programme for next season.

    We also hope to have a Zoom meeting in May or June with former Royal Ballet dancer and Royal Ballet School teacher Petal Ashmole,  whose book Get Up, Dress Up, Show Upis to be published soon.  


    Ballet Association Annual Dinner 30th May 2024 7.00-10.45pm, The Chesterfield Hotel, Mayfair.

     We are delighted to announce that our Annual Dinner will be held at The Chesterfield, Mayfair, on Thursday 30th May. The hotel is in Charles Street, about 5 minutes’ walk from Green Park Station and close to Berkeley Square. Dinner, at 8.00pm, will be held in the hotel’s Restaurant and Conservatory. It will be preceded by a drinks’ reception from 7.00pm in the Royal Suite on the first floor, which can be accessed by lift or stairs. 


    Annual Visit to the Royal Ballet Upper School Wednesday 8th May 9.15a.m

     We are delighted to announce that our annual visit to the Royal Ballet Upper School in Floral Street to watch classes and rehearsals will be on Wednesday 8th May. The cost of the visit will be £15 for members and £20 for guests. Detailed timings will be confirmed nearer the day, but we expect the first class to start at 9.30.



    Royal Ballet Principal Alexander Campbell  is retiring from the Company at the end of this month to take up the role of Artistic Director of the Royal Academy of Dance in April. His last performance with the Company was as Des Grieux in Manonon 8th March.

    Krzysztof Pastor,  Director of the Polish National Ballet, has just set up a Junior Company. Members will be delighted to hear that former Royal Ballet Dancer Dawid Trzensimiech  has been appointed as its Director and has retired from dancing in order to take up this opportunity. 

    Former Royal Ballet Principal Miyako Yoshida,  Artistic Director of the National Ballet of Japan has announced that the Company will be performing Giselleat the Royal Opera House on 24-27 July 2025.

    Following the announcement in January that our President Christopher Powneywill be stepping down as Artistic Director and CEO of the Royal Ballet School at the end of this academic year after 10 years, the School has announced that the roles of Artistic Director and Chief Executive Officer will be split. Chair of Governors, Christopher Rodrigues  will act as CEO until the post is filled.

     Royal Ballet Principal Yasmine Naghdi  has written a series of books for children about ballet. The first, Ballet Besties Book 1is now available. Presents for young relatives!


    Ballet Association Annual visit to Elmhurst Ballet School and Birmingham Royal Ballet

    In February, 29 members attended a very enjoyable trip to Birmingham. Most travelled up on the Wednesday, so we could go to Elmhurst earlier than previously. As our President Robert Parker  was away judging a competition in Italy, we were welcomed by Principal Jessica Ward  and Director of Dance Training Denise Whiteman.  In the morning, we watched choreographer Michael Corder  work on his new creation with students from Years 12 and 13, which will be performed as part of the School’s end of year shows in London and Birmingham on the 11th and 18th May respectively. The London performances will be at the Shaw Theatre.

    Those who travelled to Birmingham that morning joined the rehearsal about an hour later. After an excellent lunch we watched Year 8 boys and girls do a fitness work-out before watching the delightful girls’ ballet class taught by Nicky Linzie.  Before the evening show of Sleeping Beautyat the Hippodrome, most attended an excellent dinner at the Milano restaurant. The performance with Momoko Hirato  as Aurora and Mathias Dingman  as the Prince was excellent.

    On Saturday morning we watched an interesting mixed class taken by Assistant Director Dominic Antonucci,  before an interview with Principal Lachlan Monaghan.  When at the Royal Ballet School, Lachlan had won one of the Association’s awards.


    International Ballet Festival Havana 2024

     Our Chairman is also the Chair of the British Friends of Ballet Nacional de Cuba. Every two years an International Ballet Festival is held in Havana, starting on October 28th. This year’s is expected to conclude on Sunday 10th November. There is always a busy programme of classical and contemporary works performed by Ballet Nacional, other Cuban companies and guest companies and performers from around the world. Amongst the many works, Ballet Nacional will present a performance of Lucile,a new 55-minute ballet choreographed by former Royal Ballet Principal Johan Kobborg,  which will receive its premiere in July.

    The ballet has been commissioned by the British Friends and will be performed in a programme with Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s  Celeste,the British Friends’ first commission. During the Festival, British friends are given the opportunity to watch classes and rehearsals, as well as visiting the School. For the last two festivals they have also had receptions at the British Ambassador’s residence.


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