On August 28, we were delighted to welcome Royal Ballet Principal Francesca Hayward. After talking about her busy summer, Francesca went on to speak about her part in the new film of Andre Lloyd-Webber’s Cats, where she is Victoria, the white cat, which along with Grizabelle is one of the central roles in the film. She gave us an interesting account of life making the film, about having a new song written for her role, and the current demands on her time to attend press events around the world.
Before going on to talk about her career with The Royal Ballet, Frankie spoke about her two appearances in Vogue, including being on the cover of the latest edition co-edited by the HRH Duchess of Sussex.
She then spoke of her promotion to Principal in 2016 and the variety of principal roles she has performed before and since her promotion including last season, Juliet, Princess Stephanie, Perdita and roles in Symphony in Cand Within the Golden Hour. Frankie gave our packed audience a very entertaining evening.
On September 04, we were privileged to welcome choreographer Cathy Marston at the end of a busy day for her at The Royal Ballet, where she is creating her new work on the Company based on the life of cellist Jacqueline du Pré. Principal dancers Lauren Cuthbertson and Matthew Ball rehearse The Cellist in the picture opposite.
Before talking about this new ballet, Cathy took us through her career, from her two years in The Royal Ballet Upper School, a few years dancing on the Continent, becoming an Associate Artist at the Royal Opera House, her six years as Director of Bern Ballet, to her present role as a freelance choreographer. She spoke of the various influences on her choreography, her teacher parents, David Drew and Norman Morrice at the RBS and Regietheater (German Directors’ Theatre).
She then talked in more detail about Jane Eyrefor Northern Ballet, which was not appreciated by New York critics when staged later for ABT, The Suitfor Ballet Black, which won the 2018 National Dance Award for Best New Classical Choregraphy, and Prósperafor Ballet National de Cuba. As our Chairman had watched the creation of Próspera,Cathy spoke about all aspects of the work:- the use of workshops to choose dancers, working with former Royal Ballet dancer Jenny Tattersall as an assistant, the designs and choice of music.
Cathy then went on to talk about her new work for the Royal, her collaboration with composer Philip Feeney who has put together a score including works associated with Jacqueline. Many years ago, a seventeen-year-old Lauren Cuthbertson had stepped in at a week’s notice to replace the injured Gillie Revie in Cathy’s The Go Between and will now dance the role of Jacqueline du Pré. Cathy gave members a fascinating evening.
On September 11, we had our annual meeting at which two of the newer members of the Company talk about their training, their time in the Royal Ballet and the most recent Royal Ballet tour. This year, it was a pleasure to welcome Artists Sophie Allnatt and Aiden O’Brien. Both were Junior Associates, trained at the Royal Ballet School and danced with The Royal Ballet and Birmingham Royal Ballet whilst students. Both spoke at length about aspects of their training and the pressure of annual assessments, especially at the end of the first three years at White Lodge. Sophie graduated in 2011 and auditioned for a number of companies before Ashley Page invited her to join Scottish Ballet. When he left, she moved to Magdeburg Ballet in Germany and briefly to New English Ballet, before being offered initially a one-year contract with The Royal.
Aiden, from Scotland, had only arranged one audition when he was offered a place on the Aud Jebsen Young Dancer Programme for the 2017/18 season and as an Artist the following season. After speaking about their careers, Sophie and Aiden spoke enthusiastically about the tours to Japan and Los Angeles.