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January 2019 newsletter

WE WISH ALL OUR MEMBERS a balletic New Year with many memorable performances. Since our last newsletter, there has only been one meeting. In December, we were delighted to welcome Royal Ballet Principal Thiago Soares as our guest. Thiago gave us a very enjoyable evening, talking nearly non-stop for eighty minutes about his film Primeiro Bailarino and his other recent enterprises, including a programme with a pianist friend which they have performed in a number of countries and hope to bring to the UK in 2019. He also spoke about his forthcoming performances as Vershinin in Kenneth MacMillan’s Winter Dreams as well as other roles he had recently performed, including Prince Rudolf in Mayerling.

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
At our first meeting of the new year, on Wednesday 23 January, we have our annual meeting with our previous year’s Royal Ballet School Association Award winners, Ginevra Zambon from Italy, and Jordan Martinez and William Boswell from the USA. All three are now in their graduate year. At the School’s Matinée at the Opera House last July, all three danced in Nacho Duarto’s Bach, Multiplicity Forms of Silence and Emptiness and Ginevra and Liam performed the duet in Didy Veldman’s Toot. They will be accompanied to the meeting by former Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet (BRB) Principal Samira Saidi, who joined The Royal Ballet School in November 2017 as Head of Intensive Courses and International Relations. Many members will remember her in the title role of David Bintley’s The Snow Queen and her interpretation of the role of Giselle. After 20 years, Samira retired from dancing in 1999 to concentrate on teaching and choreography. In 2004 she joined the staff of Elmhurst School for dance and in 2012 was appointed Director of Dance at English National Ballet School. These meetings with our award winners and a teacher from the School are always very entertaining.

At our second meeting of the month, on Wednesday 30 January, we are delighted to welcome Royal Ballet Principal Matthew Ball as our guest, just after he completes his appearances in Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake. Unfortunately, Matthew sustained a knee injury early in the run, but should have returned to the role of The Swan by the time you receive this newsletter. Having trained at the Royal Ballet School, Matthew joined early in the 2013/14 season and spoke to the Association in 2015, just before he was promoted to first Artist. Since then, much has happened, culminating in his promotion to Principal at the end of last season. This season has already seen him dance Crown Prince Rudolf and Solor, and in The Unknown Soldier and Infra. On his return to the Company he dances Basil and Romeo. At the end of last season, he made his debut as Prince Siegfried in Liam Scarlett’s production of Swan Lake. We can expect a very lively meeting.

On Monday 11 February, it is a great pleasure to have Royal Ballet Principal Lauren Cuthbertson as our guest. It is nearly eight years since Lauren last spoke to the Association, so we have a lot of catching up to do. In 2018 she won a Harper’s Bazaar Women of the Year Award. In November, she danced Sylvia with Xander Parish in St. Petersburg, the first time a pair of British dancers had performed together with the Mariinsky and in March they will perform there together again in The Sleeping Beauty. Lauren has danced leading roles in the classics and heritage repertoire, as well as creating roles in the ballets of Christopher Wheeldon, Wayne McGregor and David Dawson, amongst others. This season she has already been seen as Nikiya, Mary Vetsera and the Sugar Plum Fairy and in The Concert and Symphony in C, and has Juliet, Kitri and the Young Girl in The Two Pigeons to come. Please note that this meeting will be held in Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church’s Fellowship Centre in the Church’s basement. This can be accessed by lift or stairs.

At our meeting on Wednesday 6 March we are very pleased to welcome Alex Beard, Chief Executive of The Royal Opera House, as our guest. Alex became Chief Executive in 2013. Previously he joined the Arts Council of Great Britain in 1986 and the Tate in 1999, becoming Deputy Director in 2002. He worked closely with Director Nicholas Serota in the creation of Tate Modern. Alex is on many boards, including the philanthropy board of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. As well as giving a brief summary of his career, Alex will answer questions on all aspects of his role, including developments since he was appointed, the Open Up redevelopment, and plans for the future. We know that members have many issues that they would like to raise with Alex. In order to cover all these effectively, we would ask members to submit questions to our Chairman, David Bain, in advance. Please send questions to David by 11 February, or give to him at that evening’s meeting. We look forward to an interesting evening.

Advance notice for your diaries. At our meeting on Wednesday 17 April our guest will be Royal Ballet Principal Marianela Nuñez.

Provisional dates for meetings the rest of this season are: Friday 10 May, Monday 3 June. Please note 10 May is a change from the date originally scheduled. We have had to cancel some other provisional dates as they now clash with Insight Evenings and performances.

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 £5 for members, £4 for concessions, £9 for guests. Please note that some Wednesday meetings will be preceded by a free concert at 6pm organised by the Church. Members are welcome to attend these concerts. Concert dates can be found on the Church website.

Our congratulations to all those who were included in the New Year’s Honours. In the world of dance these included a knighthood for choreographer Richard Alston for services to dance, an OBE for the Mariinsky’s Xander Parish for services to dance and UK/Russia cultural relations and an MBE for the Royal Ballet School’s Anita Young, for services to classical ballet and dance education. Some nine others received awards for dance related activities.

Annual General Meeting
At our AGM in December, our current Committee were re-elected. They are: David Bain (Organising Secretary), Liz Atkins (Membership Secretary), Ann Dawson, Melanie Shipton (Treasurer), Liz Bouttell (Reporting Secretary), Ann Maclennan (Events Secretary), Rachel Holland, Chiara Gorodesky, Roger Handley, Jacqui Sporle and Linda Gainsbury. The Chairman and Deputy Chairman will be appointed by the Committee at their next meeting in February. No-one else put themselves forward to join the Committee. We are very keen to recruit a couple of new committee members, so please contact David if you are interested.

Annual Dinner Monday 8th April 2019, The Chesterfield, Mayfair
After last year’s successful Annual Dinner at our new venue, The Chesterfield, Mayfair, we are delighted to announce that this year’s will be on Monday 8th April. The hotel is in Charles Street, about five minutes walk from Green Park Station and close to Berkeley Square and like our previous venue, The Rubens, is a member of the Red Carnation group of hotels. Dinner, at 8pm, will be held in the hotel’s Restaurant and Conservatory. It will be preceded by a drinks reception in the Royal Suite on the first floor, which can be accessed by lift or stairs. The cost of the dinner will be £50, but will not include tea or coffee. If you wish to order tea or coffee and biscuits to finish the meal, these can be booked at an additional £6.

The Dining Room and Conservatory seat a maximum of 140, mostly on round tables seating 10 each, so there will be around 112 places for members and 28 for dancers, etc. We expect a heavy demand for tickets, so early application is advised. As always, we will not be announcing the guest list until 10 days or so before the event. You will then have an opportunity to let us know which dancers you would like to sit near. Please note, payment is non-refundable unless we have a waiting list.

Please complete the application 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.

National Dance Awards, Critics’ Circle
Once again, your Committee has agreed to the Association sponsoring the National Dance Award for Best Classical Choreography. The nominations for Best Classical Choreography are: William Forsythe for Playlist (Track 1,2) for English National Ballet; Cathy Marston for The Suit for Ballet Black; Wayne McGregor for Yugen for The Royal Ballet; Liam Scarlett for Swan Lake for The Royal Ballet; Christopher Wheeldon for Corybantic Games for The Royal Ballet.

Nominations for other awards, include: Brandon Lawrence (Birmingham Royal Ballet) and Vadim Muntagirov (The Royal Ballet) for Dancing Times Award for Best Male Dancer and Brandon also for Outstanding Male Performance as Pan in Arcadia; Marianela Nuñez (The Royal Ballet) for Best Female Dancer and for Outstanding Female Classical Performance for Odette/Odile in Swan Lake; The Royal Ballet for the Stef Stefanou Award for Outstanding Company; Joseph Sissens (First Artist, The Royal Ballet) for Emerging Artist Award; and for Outstanding Creative Contribution, Viviana Durante (Producer, Steps Back in Time) and John Macfarlane (Designer). We congratulate them and all the other nominees.

The Awards Ceremony will be held in a Central London Venue at lunchtime on Monday 18th February 2019. We have a small number of seats for the occasion. Any members who would like to attend should send a request to David Bain, including contact details. We will hold a ballot on 1 February and notify successful applicants.

Annual Visit to Elmhurst Ballet School & Birmingham Royal Ballet, 20-21 June 2019
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 application form and return it to David Bain 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 mid-March.

As last year, we will start with a late lunch at about 2.30pm on Thursday 20 June, probably at a nearby Italian restaurant Milano. This will be followed at 5.30pm by a pre-performance talk by some of BRB’s dancers. We have reserved seats for the evening performance of David Bintley’s Hobson’s Choice. We have seats in the Middle Stalls row P (please note that row E is front row), Side Stalls rows H & J, Side Circle rows A-D. All seats are at a discounted group price of £40.95. Please indicate on the form your preference for seats. Please note, that this is a higher price than previous years because we have chosen to attend a full-length ballet rather than a mixed-programme.

As in previous years, we have reserved rooms in the IBIS Hotel, Birmingham Centre, which is close to the Hippodrome Theatre. For Thursday 20 June, the room rate including breakfast is £50 for single occupancy and £55 for two persons (£27.50 each). This is significantly cheaper than last year. However, if you wish to come up the night before or stay an extra night the rates for those nights are more expensive. (£107 single and £112 double occupancy for 19th June and £83 and £88 for 21st. If you would prefer a cheaper option, rooms are available at the Travelodge, round the corner from the IBIS, and also in an IBIS Budget hotel the other side of the Bristol Road.

On Friday 21 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 coffee, 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 is at Senior railcard holders can obtain very cheap tickets from London, around £4-£6 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.

BA Outings
ROH Backstage Tour, Friday 11 January
This tour is fully booked and tickets and meeting point details were sent out before Christmas.

Visit to the Monica Collingwood Archive at Roehampton, Wednesday 6 February at 2.30pm
There are still a few spaces left for this. Please send in the booking form, or copy the required information into a letter.

Visit to Freed Factory, Wednesday 6 March
This tour is fully booked. Tickets and directions will be posted this month. Any queries please email Ann at or ring 020 8941 1607

CHAIRMAN: David Bain, 23 Capstan Square, Stewart Street, London E14 3EU  Tel: 020 7515 1254 Mobile: 07855 823921 Email: or