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February 2012 newsletter

SINCE OUR LAST NEWSLETTER we have had two very different, excellent meetings. At our second meeting in January we welcomed Royal Ballet School teacher and former Royal Ballet Soloist David Peden with our three Ballet Association 2011 RBS award winners, Nina Tonoli, Yaoqian Shang and Marcelino Sambé. They provided us a fascinating evening. David talked about his very varied career as both dancer and teacher, with many amusing anecdotes. The students spoke of their very different experiences when training in their home countries, competitions and their time at the Royal Ballet School. Nina graduates this year and is joining Vienna State Ballet under its new director Manuel Legris, whilst Yaoqian and Marcelino have another year in the School. We look forward to seeing all three in their end of year performances. We hope to announce details of our annual visit to the Royal Ballet School to watch class and rehearsals in the next newsletter.

At our February meeting, we were delighted to welcome First Artist Fernando Montaño, who gave us a very moving account of his career so far. From Colombia, most of his training was in Cuba. Following a period in the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, he continued his training in Italy before joining the Royal Ballet. Fernando also spoke about his collaborations with fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and his friends in the Royal Opera. Members were very impressed by Fernando’s thoughtful and open account of his career.   

Future meetings
Our meeting on Wednesday 29 February has been cancelled. We apologise for any inconvenience caused by this.

Our meeting with First Artist Claire Calvert will now be on Friday 9 March.  Born in Eckington, Gloucestershire, Claire studied at the Royal Ballet School before joining The Royal Ballet. Now in her fifth year in the Company, Claire was plucked out of the corps to dance the Lilac Fairy in Sleeping Beauty, a role she has performed again this season. Her other roles have included Lescaut’s Mistress in Manon and Winter Fairy in Cinderella. At the start of this year, she was highlighted in the Observer newspaper as the dancer to watch out for in 2012. As with Fernando, we can expect another fascinating evening from a young dancer who has regularly received good notices in reviews. We are pleased that Claire is able to speak on this alternative date.

At our meeting on Tuesday 17 April we are delighted to welcome Royal Ballet Principal Sarah Lamb. Sarah last spoke to the Association in 2007 and much has happened since. A regular in ballets by Christopher Wheeldon and Wayne McGregor, we have seen Sarah in a variety of roles so far this season, including lead roles in Manon, Sleeping Beauty, Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, Gloria and Asphodel Meadows. She will have danced in Alice and Polyphonia, amongst others,between now and the meeting.  We can look forward to another fascinating meeting.       
Provisional dates for the rest of next season are:  Thursday 3 May, Wednesday 30 May, Thursday 14 June, Thursday 28 June, Thursday 12 July.  All dates are subject to change. (Please note that there will be no meetings on 27 April, 17 May, 5 July because of clashes with other events.)  Meetings, unless otherwise stated, 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 you walk up Endell Street and cross over Shaftesbury Avenue. The church is then on your left, if you face East. (nearest tube Tottenham Court Road). Doors open at 6.45 p.m. unless otherwise stated. Entrance is £4 for members, £3 for concessions, £8 for guests.

We send our congratulations to Carlos Acosta and his partner, Charlotte Holland, on the birth of their daughter Aila on the 21 January. Born at 9.18am she weighed 7.2lbs. Congratulations also to Wayne McGregor who received his CBE from HRH Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace in January.
We also send congratulations to former Royal Ballet Principal Viacheslav Samodurov who has been appointed Director of Ekaterinburg Ballet. Viacheslav has been busy recently. Along with Robert Parker and Steven McRae he was among the 26 emerging and aspiring artistic leaders who attended the DanceEast Rural Retreat in January. Steven has also been busy. He can be seen with Roberta Marquez and Wayne Sleep in the film room in David Hockney’s A Bigger Picture exhibition at the Royal Academy. They visited Hockney’s studio in Bridlington a few weeks before Christmas and did some experiments with him using multi camera techniques. It is well worth seeing.

At the time of writing, the Royal Ballet are on an extended mid-season break. During the two weeks, Roberta Marquez and Steven McRae are dancing in Japan with Johan Kobborg, Alina Cojocaru, Lauren Cuthbertson, Sergei Polunin, Daria Klimentova and Vadim Muntagirov in two mixed programmes. Members will have been saddened to hear of Sergei’s resignation from The Royal Ballet. We wish him great success with his future, whatever he decides to do.

There will be a Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Alexander Grant at 12 Noon on Friday 27 April at St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden.

National Dance Awards
At the Awards Ceremony in January, our Chairman presented the award for Best Classical Choreography. This went to David Bintley for his Cinderella for BRB. The award was collected by Elisha Willis on David’s behalf. Royal Ballet dancers Steven McRae and Gary Avis won The Dancing Times Award for Best Male Dancer and the award for Outstanding Male Performance (Classical) respectively. Former Royal Ballet Principal and Artistic Director of Scottish Ballet Ashley Page won the De Valois Award for Outstanding Achievement. We send our congratulations to them and all the other award winners.  

Annual Dinner 2012
As announced in the last newsletter, our Annual Dinner will be on Thursday 17th May.  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 £39. This year’s dinner will be a very special occasion as we near the end of our Patron, Dame Monica Mason’s time as Director of The Royal Ballet and her 54 years in the Company. If you have not yet applied, please do so as soon as possible. There are a few places left. If you need an application form please let us know and we will send you a copy.  We will not be announcing the guest list until the end of April.  You will then have an opportunity to let us know which dancers you would like to sit near.

The completed application form should be sent 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 may lose your place if we are over-subscribed.

2012 Visit to Elmhurst School for Dance and Birmingham Royal Ballet – 20-21 June
This visit will include the first night of David Bintley’s Far from the Madding Crowd, which is selling fast. We have reserved a number of seats in the Dress Circle and Rear Stalls and will allocate these on a first-come, first-served basis. We have reserved accommodation at the IBIS hotel for those who require it. We have chosen the IBIS as it is substantially cheaper than alternative hotels- £40 for a twin bedded room for single occupancy, £45 for double occupancy (£22.50 each). However, you can make alternative arrangements if you wish, although you will have to meet the group at the IBIS on the Thursday morning if you require transport to Elmhurst. Completed application forms should be sent to Brian Don,  BA Committee, 5 Weirdale Avenue, London, N20 0AN. Further information, or an application form, can be obtained from Brian on 020 8368 4419 or Chris Scott, BA Committee,

CHAIRMAN: David Bain