Ballet Association Newsletter Chronology | Sergei Polunin
Ballet Association Newsletter Chronology

Ballet Association Newsletter Chronology

The Ballet Association

SET UP BY A GROUP OF BALLET ENTHUSIASTS nearly forty years ago, the Ballet Association gives active support to the Royal Ballet companies and promote interest in all aspects of their work. United in affection for the Royal Ballet, members combine both a rich collective memory and a keen interest in new work.
They hold regular meetings at which dancers and other Royal Ballet staff talk about their careers and interests in an informal interview structure, with plenty of opportunity for the audience to ask questions. Meetings also provide an opportunity to share knowledge and exchange often highly contrasted views. There are always opportunities for informal meetings with other members at or after performances.

They send out a regular newsletter by email or post. Reports on meetings are published on their website (the report of their meeting with Sergei will be coming to sergeipoluningracefulbeast.com soon).

It is these newsletters that I searched through for mentions of Sergei Polunin.  The result was a chronology of his time with the Royal Ballet.  It is odd, and yet interesting, to read about what we know was a very dramatic course of events in such sterile and unemotional text.  The following are little blurbs I pulled from the indicated newsletters from his first joining the Royal Ballet company to present day.

July 2007 Newsletter
Joining The Royal Ballet are Claire Calvert, Kevin Emerton, Elsa Godard and Sergei Polunin from The Royal Ballet School; Elizabeth Harrod – ex-Royal Ballet School and Norwegian Ballet and Melissa Hamilton – trained at Elmhurst School for Dance and privately with Masha Mukhamedov.

August 2008 Newsletter
As announced in our last newsletter, Lauren Cuthbertson and Rupert Pennefather were promoted to Principal on the final day of last season and Gillian Revie has become Guest Principal Character Artist. Other promotions are Yuhui Choe and Steven McRae to First Soloist, Helen Crawford, Laura McCulloch, Ryoichi Hirano, Paul Kay, Sergei Polunin and Eric Underwood to Soloist, Elizabeth Harrod, Romany Pajdak, Pietra Mello-Pitman and Liam Scarlett to First Artist.

January 2009 Newsletter
There are two meetings in January. For our first meeting of the New Year, on Wednesday 14 January, we are delighted to welcome two of the most refreshing young talents of the Company, Melissa Hamilton and Sergei Polunin. Born in Belfast, Melissa trained at The Jennifer Bullick School of Ballet, before joining Elmhurst Ballet School at the age of 16, where she was taught by Masha Mukhamedo. When the Muhamedovs left Elmhurst, Melissa continued her training with Masha in Greece. She won the Youth America Grand Prix in 2007 and joined The Royal Ballet later that year. She was chosen by Michael Corder to dance a role this season in L’invitation au voyage and by Wayne McGregor to create a role in Infra. Sergei was born in the Ukraine. He joined The Royal Ballet School in 2003, aged 13. In 2006, he won the Prix de Lausanne and the Youth America Grand Prix and an award at the Sixth Lifar International Ballet Competition. The following year he was named Young British Dancer of the Year, before joining The Royal Ballet. He was promoted to Soloist this season and has danced, amongst many roles, the Bronze Idol and in Dances at a Gathering. This Christmas he danced both male lead roles in The Nutcracker and has his debut as Solor in La Bayadère later in January. We can expect a very interesting evening.

Sergei and Melissa Hamilton at the 2009 Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards

February 2009 Newsletter
We had two very exciting meetings in January. At the first, we welcomed two of the most refreshing young talents of the Company, Melissa Hamilton and Sergei Polunin. Members were greatly impressed by the attitudes of both. At different stages of their training they had to move away from their home country to develop as dancers, Sergei at The Royal Ballet School and Melissa with the Mukhamedovs in Greece. Both displayed a good sense of humour and kept members amused throughout the evening. The determination displayed by Melissa was refreshing in a young dancer from Britain, whilst Sergei was extremely modest about his achievements, which most recently have included Solor in La Bayadère.

January 2010 Newsletter
Royal Ballet Principal Mara Galeazzi’s Gala For Africa 2010 is part of a unique initiative, ‘Dancing For The Children.’ Through the universal language of dance, ‘Dancing For The Children’ pursues humanitarian aims, encouraging far-reaching understanding of the arts, as it provides relief and assistance to victims of illness, disease and disability. Gala For Africa 2010 hopes to raise funds that will allow a group of dancers to return to South Africa in 2011 and continue the work and financial assistance that was so appreciated in 2007.

With a star-studded line-up that includes Royal Ballet stars Gary Avis, Ricardo Cervera, Yuhui Choe, Sarah Lamb, Steven McRae, Laura Morera, Marianela Nunez, Sergei Polunin, Thiago Soares, Eric Underwood and Edward Watson, along with piano soloist Kate Shipway, actor Jude Law and groups such as the Ballet Boyz , 4 Poofs & a Piano plus Ella Kenion, Nigel Cliffe, and Ensemble WC2E. The event promises to be an unforgettable celebration of the power of dance and entertainment to change lives and to communicate across geographical, cultural and social borders.

February 2010 Newsletter
Gala for Africa at Sadler’s Wells Theatre at 7pm. In aid of Mara Galeazzi’s charity ‘Dancing for the Children’, a very special evening with guests from The Royal Ballet: Gary Avis, Ricardo Cervera, Yuhui Choe, Sarah Lamb, Steven McRae, Laura Morera, Marianela Nunez, Sergei Polunin, Thiago Soares, Eric Underwood, Edward Watson; and others, including The Ballet Boyz. Tickets £10-£50.

Congratulations to all those who have recently won awards. These include David Bintley who won the last South Bank Show Award for Dance for his new work E=mc². At the National Dance Awards given by the Critics’ Circle, Alexander Grant received the De Valois Award for Outstanding Achievement, Leanne Benjamin the Richard Sherrington Award for Best Female Dancer, Wayne McGregor the Award for Best Classical Choreography for Infra and Melissa Hamilton and Sergei Polunin the Awards for Outstanding Female and Male Performances. Congratulations also to Tony Hall, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House, who has been appointed as a non-party-political peer in the House of Lords.

August 2010 Newsletter
There was an error in the last newsletter, Guillaume Cȏte is appearing as a guest principal and is not joining the Royal Ballet. In addition to those announced as joining in the last newsletter – Nehemiah Kish, Itziar Menizabal, Valentino Zucchetti, Yasmine Naghdi, Sander Blommaert, and James Butcher – Camille Bracher from Johanessburg, South Africa and Beatriz Stix-Brunell from School of American Ballet join as Artists. The Royal Ballet has announced that Sergei Polunin has been promoted to Principal, Johannes Stepanek to First Soloist, Melissa Hamilton to Soloist and Claire Calvert, Akane Takada, Fernando Montaño and Erico Montes to First Artist. We congratulate them all.

November/December 2010 Newsletter
The following from The Royal and BRB have been nominated by the Critics’ Circle for the National Dance Awards: Steven McRae and Sergei Polunin for Best Male Dancer; Alina Cojocaru and Marianela Nunezfor Best Female Dancer; Kim Brandstrup and Liam Scarlett for Best Classical Choreography; Akane Takade for Outstandng Female Performance (Classical) and Iain Mackay and Tom Whitehead for Outstanding Male Performance (Classical).

April/May 2011 Newsletter
There are still some vacancies for our Annual Dinner on Tuesday 17th May at the Rubens Hotel in Buckingham Palace Road. Dinner is at 8pm.  
So far, the following have accepted the invitation to attend the dinner:- Dame Monica Mason, Jeanetta Laurence, Jonathan Cope, Christopher Saunders, Gailene Stock, Gary Norman, Zenaida Yanowsky, Mara Galeazzi, Lauren Cuthberton, Steven McRae, David Makhateli, Nehemiah Kish, Sergei Polunin, Gary Avis, Genesia Rosato, Itziar Mendizabal, Helen Crawford, Bennet Gartside, Kenta Kura, Elizabeth Harrod, Francesca Filpi, Emma-Jane Maguire, Akane Takada, Sabina Westcombe, Yasmine Naghdi, Beatrix Stix-Brunnel, Valentino Zucchetti, Camille Bracher, Sander Blommaert, Robert Clark and Kate Shipway.

ballet association sergei polunin
Sergei at the 2009 Ballet Association dinner.

ballet association dinner

June 2011 Newsletter
Our first meeting of the new season is on Tuesday 23 August, when we are pleased to welcome Soloist Melissa Hamilton as our guest. A very good reason for you to come back early from your Summer holidays. Born in Belfast, Melissa trained at The Jennifer Bullick School of Ballet until the age of 16, before moving to Elmhurst School for Dance. She trained with Masha Mukhamedov at Elmhurst and then privately in Greece. She won at the Youth America Grand Prix in 2007 and joined The Royal Ballet later that year and was promoted to Soloist at the start of this season. Her repertory includes Olga, Mary Vetsera, Zulme, Agon, Summer Fairy, Tryst, Symphony in C, Carmen, Voluntaries, Sensorium, DGV and Chroma. She created roles in Wayne McGregor’s Infra, Limen and Acis and Galatea, Ernst Meisner’s What If and Slava Samodurov’s Trip Trac. In the last mixed bill, she was one of the four soloists in Ballo Della Regina as well as dancing the role created by Darcey Bussell in DGV. In 2009 she received the Outstanding Female Performance (Classical) Award in the Critics’ Circle Dance Awards. Melissa last spoke to us soon after she joined in a meeting with Sergei Polunin. We can expect a very interesting evening.

We held a very successful annual dinner on Tuesday 17 May. We have had lots of messages from members and guests saying how much they had enjoyed the evening. Sadly our Patron Dame Monica Mason was unwell on the day and could not attend. We are glad to see that she has recovered fully. The final guest list was: Jeanetta Laurence, Jonathan Cope, Christopher Saunders, Gailene Stock, Gary Norman, Zenaida Yanowsky, Mara Galeazzi, Lauren Cuthberton, Steven McRae, David Makhateli and his wife ENB dancer Natalia Kremen, Nehemiah Kish, Sergei Polunin, Gary Avis, Genesia Rosato, Itziar Mendizabal, Helen Crawford, Bennet Gartside, Kenta Kura, Elizabeth Harrod, Kristen McNally, Akane Takada, Sabina Westcombe, Celisa Diuana, Francesca Hayward, Yasmine Naghdi, Beatriz Stix-Brunell, Valentino Zucchetti, Camille Bracher, Sander Blommaert, and pianists Robert Clark and Kate Shipway.

November/December 2011 Newsletter
Congratulations to all the following from The Royal and BRB who have received nominations for the 12th National Dance Awards, given by the Critics’ Circle. Steven McRae, Sergei Polunin, Edward Watson for Best Male Dancer; Lauren Cuthbertson, Marianela Nuñez, Tamara Rojo for Best Female Dancer; Melissa Hamilton, Akane Takada, Elisha Willis for Outstanding Female Performance (Classical); Gary Avis for Outstanding Male Performance (Classical); David Bintley (for Cinderella for BRB) and Kim Brandstrup (for Invitus Invitam for the Royal Ballet) for Best Classical Choreography. Former Royal and BRB dancers have also been nominated: Sylvie Guillem (for 6000 Miles Away) and Alexander Whitley(Random Dance) for Outstanding Female and Male Performance (Modern) respectively. Ballet Boyz – The Talent have also been nominated as Best Independent Company.   

January 2012 Newsletter
Former Royal Ballet Principal Ivan Putrov presents an evening of works exploring the beauty of the male form in motion entitled Men in Motion at Sadler’s Wells from 27-29 January. He is joined by Sergei Polunin, National Dance Award-winner Daniel Proietto, Bolshoi Principal Dmitry Gudanov and Mariinsky Principal Igor Kolb. The programme will include Ashton’s Dance of the Blessed Spirits which was choreographed on Anthony Dowell and hasn’t been seen in the UK for over 30 years.

February 2012 Newsletter
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.

July 2012 Newsletter
The following left the Company at the end of the season:
Principal Tamara Rojo, First Soloist José Martin, Artists Celisa Diuana, Aaron Smyth, Ballet Mistress Ursula Hageli and Physiotherapist Daryl Martin.  Francesca Filpi, David Makhateli and Sergei Polunin left during the season.

October 2012 Newsletter
We are delighted to welcome former Royal Ballet Principal Tamara Rojo, Artistic Director of English National Ballet, to our meeting on Friday 7 December. Tamara is a regular guest of the Association and always provides us with an entertaining and thought provoking evening. She has a very varied repertoire and appears as a guest artist around the world. Later this season she will appear as a guest with the Royal, renewing her partnership with Sergei Polunin in Marguerite and Armand. Having recently announced her first programmes for English National Ballet, we can expect to hear a little about these, her move to becoming an artistic director and her roles since she last spoke to the Association. The evening will also give us an opportunity to present her with a leaving present from the Association.

January 2013 Newsletter
At our second meeting of the month on Friday 18 January, we are delighted to welcome former Royal Ballet Principal Tamara Rojo, Artistic Director of English National Ballet. Unfortunately Tamara had to drop out of our meeting in December. Tamara has been a regular guest of the Association and always provides us with an entertaining and thought provoking evening. She has a very varied repertoire and appears as a guest artist around the world. Later this season she will appear as a guest with the Royal, renewing her partnership with Sergei Polunin in Marguerite and Armand. Having recently announced her first programmes for English National Ballet, we can expect to hear a little about these, her move to becoming an artistic director and her roles since she last spoke to the Association. The evening will also give us an opportunity to present her with a leaving present from the Association.

Former Royal Ballet Principal Sergei Polunin will star in Peter Schaufuss’ production of Midnight Express, based on the book by Billy Hayes at the London Coliseum in 9-14 April 2013.

February 2013 Newsletter
At our second meeting of the month, we welcomed former Principal Tamara Rojo. Despite heavy snow, which meant some members couldn’t get into London, as expected we had a good attendance for this eagerly awaited meeting. We concentrated on the last two years of her career. She spoke about the new works she had danced in this time including Sweet Violets, her partnership with Sergei Polunin in Marguerite and Armand, as well as some highlights such as Song of the Earth. She then talked about being asked to apply for the post of Director of the Royal Ballet, how she learnt from this experience and then successfully applied to become Artistic Director of English National Ballet. Tamara was then asked about how she chose her ballet staff and her programming for her first season, before talking about her plans for the future and the rebranding of the Company and link with designer Vivienne Westwood, which had been announced earlier in the week. Once again Tamara gave us a thought provoking and fascinating evening.

November/December 2013 newsletter
As for the past two years, the Ballet Association is sponsoring the Best Classical Choreography Award at the Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards. The nominees for this award are Mark Morris for Beaux for San Francisco Ballet, David Nixon for The Great Gatsby for Northern Ballet, Alexei Ratmansky for 24 Preludes for The Royal Ballet and Christopher Wheeldon for Aeternum for The Royal Ballet. We congratulate all nominees and await the outcome with interest.

Nominations for other awards include Edward Watson and former Royal Ballet dancer Sergei Polunin for Best Male Dancer, Natalia Osipova and former Royal Ballet Prix de Lausanne Apprentice Maria Kochetkova for Best Female Dancer, Akane Takada for Outstanding Female Performance as Olga in Onegin and Brian Maloney for Outstanding Male Performance as Bratfisch in Mayerling.

July 2015 Newsletter
Former Royal Ballet dancer Sergei Polunin has launched Project Polunin in conjunction with Sadler’s Wells to create new work. Members may have seen photos of Sergei dancing with Principal Natalia Osipova in various venues, including Jerome Robbins Other Dances at the Stanislavsky Theatre.

February 2017 Newsletter
Former Royal Ballet Principal Sergei Polunin’s film Dancer is being shown at the London Palladium, Everyman Cinema and at Cineworld cinemas across the UK on March 2. It will be followed by Q&A and live performance at the Palladium.  On the same day, Ballet Black opens its new season at the Barbican Theatre. As we are sure members may wish to attend one or the other event, we have cancelled our scheduled meeting on that day.  

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