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About the Change

RB Announce
new 'Seniors' Company

London, Opera House

1st April 2002

Royal Ballet Past Masters are proud to be sponsored by:

Other ROH announcements:
RB 2002/03 Season

ROH Seat back displays

Postings discussion

Following the recent spate of announcements about next season, London's Royal Ballet have just released details of a fundamental change of structure with the formation of a 'Seniors' company - Royal Ballet Past Masters. The new setup is loosely modelled on Hague-based Nederlands Dans Theater which has had a much acclaimed company for older dancers since 1991.

Royal Ballet Past Masters is expected to take on the Classical and Heritage (Ashton and Macmillan) repertoire and, following exhaustive audience research, to tour extensively in the Home Counties of England putting on early evening shows that better fit their audience's life needs. Whereas earlier RB touring of 'Dance Bites' concentrated on modern work, 'Golden Oldies' tours will concentrate solely on proper traditional ballet.

According to a Royal Opera House (ROH) spokesman "The real pay-back is that the main company will at last be able get on and concentrate exclusively on modern work capable of winning and retaining the discerning younger audience that we've been after for years."

To encourage the new audience some remodelling of Covent Garden is being undertaken with all the spaces fully integrated for Ballet NiteZ. The basement Linbury Theatre will be franchised to the Ministry of Sound and have a club atmosphere featuring US House and Garage while the Crush Bar space will concentrate mainly on 70's Northern Soul for example. Clubbers will have complete free run of the entire house, dipping into and out of the live performance as they wish, dancing or chilling out in a softly cushioned Clore.

In an unprecedented move the Opera House will be staying open very late, allowing ravers to carry on until at least 12:30am on Friday and Saturday nights. The 40 entrance charge will also include a free glass of Champagne.

Royal Ballet Past Masters, headed by young at heart Debbie McGee (director of Ballet Imaginaire) and Ashley Page, will

Debbie McGee co-director of
RB Past Masters

be for all dancers over the age of 23 - reckoned to be a grand age in Royal Ballet terms these days. However the company management may have to move some dancers over to RBPM at an earlier age should their fitness levels be unsuitable for the main company repertoire of Forsythe, Ek, Preljocaj, Kylian, Duato, Forsythe, Kylian, Duato, Ek and Preljocaj.

McGee and Page will have their work cut out because the mini-company (actually expected to be nearly 70 dancers strong) gets no subsidy - the main company already being pinched for cash. Generous, but tied sponsorship from SAGA, All-Bran, Woolworths and American Retirement Corporation mean the company will have to tour golf communities in the Southern USA for a large proportion of the year. London fans of Darcey Bussell (31) will not be disappointed however since Victor Hochhauser is expected to put the company on at Covent Garden in special one-off matinee shows coupled with Tea Dancing in the Floral Hall.

An ROH spokesman asked for fans and critics not to comment negatively on the plans: "Spending 10M of the public's money to take the art forward isn't easy you know. Frankly we've had enough of the questioning and carping by the Arts Council, Government committees, fans, critics and other do-gooders and we don't listen anyway. For once just let us get on with an obvious winner".

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