Tuesday, 10 May 2016

70 Years of the London Ballet Circle

National Liberal Club
Author Debonairchap
Source Wikipedia
Creative Commons Library

I have just returned from a most delightful evening at the National Liberal Club. The occasion was a talk and party to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the formation of the London Ballet Circle. The Circle must have been formed just a few weeks after Sadler's Wells Ballet danced The Sleeping Beauty at Covent Garden (see The Sleeping Beauty (1946) Royal Opera House Collections On-line) and like the Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and the Royal Ballet School it owes much to its first patron, Dame Ninette de Valois.

I can't tell you what was said in the discussion because a rule similar to the Chatham House Rule applies to meetings of the London Ballet Circle but I can say that many of the great names of British ballet contributed to that discussion or were in the audience to hear it. Before the discussion began, our chairperson, Susan Dalgetty Ezra announced that Kevin O'Hare and Cassa Pancho had been appointed Vice-Presidents of the Circle. The latter announcement delighted me so much that I clapped so vigorously that a lady in the front tow turned round to see who was responsible for the racket. Cassa Pancho and her delightful dancers are among my very favourite people in the arts. Indeed anywhere.

At the party I met some of my heroes and heroines. There was Dame Beryl Gray whose company's performances of The Nutcracker in the Festival Hall every Christmas attracted me to ballet when I was very young. Sir Peter Wright whom I had met for the first time in Budapest on 17 April was there too. So, too was Dame Monica Mason, one of my all time favourite ballerinas. Also, Gary Avis, the best Drosselmeyer ever, as gracious and handsome off stage as he is on it. I wish him all the best with Dance for Suffolk which I hope to review in Terpsichore. Last but not least Cassa Pancho whose company I had seen twice at the weekend and I take this opportunity to congratulate her.

There were warm words for great names who were not there. Among the people I spoke to Ernst Meisner's occurred more than once. As one of his fans, it was gratifying to note the enormous affection as well as respect with and in which he is held in this country.

To start its next 70 years The London Ballet Circle has arranged two Borealian treats. It has invited Javier Torres to speak on 23 May 2016 and Jonathan Watkins who created the delightful Northern Trilogy and 1984 for Northern Ballet will speak on 6 June. I shall be there to cheer them on.

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