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Chairman's Report 2004/5


Last season saw the Royal Ballet Companies celebrate the centenary of the birth of Sir Frederick Ashton. For many members, this saw the return to the repertoire of favourite ballets, whilst newer dance enthusiasts were introduced to some of the great works of one of our finest choreographers. Foremost amongst the revivals was Christopher Newton’s production of Sylvia, which returns to the stage this week.

The year saw the Association go from strength to strength. Once again our membership increased to another all time high of 420. This has resulted in higher attendance at meetings, as can be seen today. As always, we are grateful to Joan Seaman, our Membership Secretary, and Sylvia Tyler, who keeps our database. The increase in our membership and in attendance at meetings has contributed greatly to our financial health. This has enabled us to keep the cost of the dinner fairly low. Once again we are grateful to Melanie Shipton, our treasurer for keeping our finances in order. I would also like to thank our auditor, Peter Mahrer. We have produced a membership badge. I hope members will purchase badges, at £1 each, which will contribute further to our finances.

In February, we made a donation of £500 to the Royal Ballet’s First Drafts in the Clore Studio. The Association is keen to support the development of young choreographers and will be providing similar donations towards two First Drafts events this year, in November and March. In June, we welcomed two of the choreographers from First Drafts and one from Inspired by Ashton to talk about the choreographic process.

We were delighted to hear that Desmond Kelly, one of our Presidents, was awarded the OBE in the New Year’s Honours list. We continue to receive invitations from the Vic-Wells Association to attend some dress rehearsals at Sadler’s Wells. Unfortunately, the late notification of these means we can only notify those of you who receive your newsletter by e-mail. We also received an invitation from The Great Britain-Russia Society to attend talks on Galina Ulanova, both in Russian and English. We continue to advertise some events of The Society of Dance Research, to which the Association belongs. We also advertise some events at the Wales Millennium Centre. This may seem strange, as few of our members live near Wales, but the Centre is keen to attract balletomanes.

Just before the end of last season, we were saddened to hear of the deaths of Pamela May and Ross Stretton. Pamela last attended an Association event in 1998. She made her debut in the Vic-Wells Ballet in 1934. Ross was our Patron during his short tenure as Director of The Royal Ballet, and was very supportive of the Association. He died of melanoma, at the age of 53. He is remembered fondly by many for introducing major works and renowned choreographers to the repertoire, as well as bringing in some exciting new dancers.

Some members of the Association joined the Royal Ballet’s Supporters Group on part of the successful tour of the Far East, whilst many of you left at home attended our meeting, where we marked the retirement of Principal Pianist Philip Gammon. In Japan, we were all shocked to hear of the London bombings on July 7th. It was with great sadness that we heard, on our return, that one of our members, Anat Rosenberg, was killed on the No 30 bus at Tavistock Square. We asked her boyfriend to pass on our condolences to her family back in Israel. In thanking us, he wrote: “I recall how she would tell me, in great detail, about meetings and I know she really enjoyed the dinner. The Association meant a lot to her and she would be pleased and proud if she could know she was in your thoughts.”

Our Patron, Monica Mason, had the good idea, that we might put together a book of reminiscences of members to mark the 75th Anniversary of the Company. Please send anecdotes, photos, etc., to Sylvia Tyler. To mark the 75th Anniversary, during 2006, the Royal Ballet is looking to the future with some new choreography. They are asking for Anniversary Supporters. The Committee feels it is appropriate that the Association become one of these supporters and donate £2,500 a year for this and next season.

Guests during the season
Our guests during the 2004-5 season were Wendy Ellis Somes, Christopher Saunders, Romany Pajdak, Henry St. Clair, Ludovic Ondiviela, Michael, Stojko, James Wilkie, Marianela Nunez, Darcey Bussell, Alastair Macaulay, Lauren Cuthbertson, Federico Bonelli, Nao Sakuma, Kosuke Yamamoto, Vanessa Fenton, Ernst Meisner, Peter Quanz and Philip Gammon. I hope you will agree, that we continue to provide a very varied guest list representing all aspects of the Companies. We were very grateful to Desmond Kelly for enabling Nao and Kosuke to come down from Birmingham to talk to us.

As you are aware, the Swedenborg Hall has had to reduce its capacity to 100 as a response to new fire regulations. This causes us some problems, and unfortunately resulted in some members being turned away at Darcey’s talk. We have sought alternative venues, and will sometimes use the Royal Ballet School or the Clore Studio. We are very grateful to Jay Jolley, Philip Mosley and ROH2 for arranging this. However, we don’t want to use a large venue, unless necessary. So we apologise, if we sometimes get it wrong. In order to meet costs, there will be an increase of £1 on admission for events held in the Clore.

We continue to post reports on our website and others. I would like to thank those who have written reports during the last year, but apologise for delays in publishing some reports. At all meetings we have a raffle. I am very grateful to artist, Phil Bremner, who has provided some of the prizes for tonight’s raffle.

Annual Dinner
Once again we had an extremely successful Annual Dinner at the Rubens Hotel. We are extremely grateful to members of the Company for giving up rare free time to be with us, on what is always a very special evening. Unfortunately, because of commitments, none of our Presidents were able to attend and our Founder Patron, Sir Anthony Dowell, was dancing with Sylvie Guillem in Japan. The final list of guests attending was: Monica Mason, Jeanetta Laurence, Kevin O’Hare, Gail Taphouse, Philip Mosley, Leanne Benjamin, Federico Bonelli, Roberta Marquez, Tamara Rojo, Viacheslav Samodurov, Zenaida Yanowsky, Belinda Hatley, Sarah Lamb, Yohei Sasaki, Jose Martin, Cindy Jourdain, Hikaru Kobayashi, Emily Low, Kenta Kura, Andrej Uspenski, Tara-Brigitte Bhavnani, Yuhui Choe, Celisa Diuana, Ryoichi Hirano, Paul Kay, Ernst Meisner, Ludovic Ondiviela, and Henry St Clair.

Our guests at the dinner included dancers from all corners of the globe. Some are British, some from other countries but trained at the Royal Ballet School, some trained elsewhere. At the dinner, I was able to make a response to some unfortunate statements in the press about a lack of British dancers. There are some wonderful British dancers in both Companies, but there is no doubt in my mind that the amalgam of talent from different backgrounds has enriched the Royal Ballet Companies enormously. Long may they continue to attract the best of dancers from around the world.

Thanks
I would like to record my thanks to all members of the committee for the last year– Kenneth Leadbeater, Joan Seaman, Melanie Shipton, Sylvia Tyler, Geoffrey Griffiths, Rachel Holland, Liz Bouttell, Belinda Taylor and Mandy Kent. We all give our time and energy voluntarily. Thank you to all of you who turn up at meetings. You help make them a success. Thanks especially to those who have lent a hand clearing up and setting out equipment.

Chairing this Association is a real privilege. Thank you for your kind comments throughout the year. We look forward to new season, which has already seen BRB at Sadler’s Wells and the Royal Ballet celebrate the bicentenary of Bournonville.

Our Annual Dinner this year will be on Wednesday 24 May. Our meeting on 1 March will be in the Clore Studio and that on 22 March at the Royal Ballet School.

CHAIRMAN: David Bain, 23 Capstan Square, Stewart Street, London E14 3EU Tel: 020 7515 1254
Mobile: 07855 823921 Email: Dbcapstan@aol.com

© The Ballet Association 2005.

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