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Beyond the Barre Newsletter. Edition 5 - June 2014

Preparations for this year’s Summer School have a particular frisson because of our move to Askham Bryan. You’ll see in this Newsletter how much we’re looking forward to it. In The Director’s Update, Marguerite tells us about another step forward - the exciting development of the first Scholarship audition to take place in York.

As we predicted, the change of venue has resulted in one or two “behind-the –scenes” changes. For instance, Askham Bryan, unlike York St John, does not have pianos. Hiring proved difficult and expensive, so we have invested in three new electric pianos. The Director did a trial run with one at the York audition and is very pleased with the result.

Additional expenses like this make help with core funding all the more pressing. We very much hope that as many of you as possible will renew your memberships and also come to our fundraising events. Details of this year’s activities are contained in this edition of Beyond the Barre, including details of your priority booking opportunities for watching this year’s Summer School.

We now have a Twitter account. Do please follow us on Twitter for news and views and details of what’s happening from the Director.

The Director’s Update

Dear Friends,

It’s June already and I simply do not know where this year has gone. It has been so eventful and exciting.

We have had hundreds of applications this year, more than ever before, which is wonderful and underlines how important the Summer School is to aspiring students.

© Nobby Clark

We held the first scholarship audition on 4 May in London. Because of the overwhelming number of applicants - over 100 - we had to divide the classes into three groups. Patricia Linton (one of our regular teachers) taught the classes and Shaun Holmes played the piano. The panel of judges comprised Dr Wayne Sleep, Elizabeth McGorian (Royal Ballet Principal Character Dancer), Laura Connor (former Royal Ballet Principal), Heather McCubbin (former dancer with English National Ballet) and myself. It was a joyous day, with so many talented students who had travelled from far and wide.

Everyone seemed to have a lovely time. I am very fortunate in having such an eminent panel of judges who are so supportive of the YBSS.

On Sunday 11 May, Laura Connor, myself, Barbara Thomas - my PA - and Patricia Linton headed off to York for the second Audition. I had been concerned for some time that students who could ill afford the fare to London to audition might miss out. This was a most successful venture, and I hope to continue to do this every year. David Plumpton, one of our regular pianists, played one of our new electric pianos for us. We had 38 applicants, some as young as 9, and many very talented.

With so many gifted young dancers to teach I am very much looking forward to this year’s Summer School.

Finally, I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to you all for your continued loyalty, Warmest wishes
Marguerite Porter

2014 Summer School

© Sophie Harris-Taylor

The York audition day was our chance to test drive the new venue at Askham Bryan. It was very interesting for us to see the whole set up there, and reassuring too. The grounds are spacious and beautiful, the studios will work well, and there are great recreational rooms, with billiard tables and even Karaoke to allow the students to let off steam! The staff are extremely enthusiastic and could not have been more helpful so we feel very optimistic about our future there.

We now have a ‘full house’ - 98 students one week and 92 for the second. Sadly we had to reject over 100 students, because they did not reach our required standards and also because we have to manage the size of classes. Classes that get too large prevent us from giving the individual focus to students, which is so much part of our mission.

All the residential accommodation at Askham Bryan is en suite which is a great leap forward for all concerned, not least the house parents who were always worried about the queue for the morning showers.

Once again, our faculty line up this year is outstanding and ensures a really special Summer School for the students.

Student news

Brandon Lawrence has had a wonderful Season with BRB, dancing a very tricky solo in Prince of the Pagodas. He was mesmerising and powerful.

Matthew Ball is now dancing full time with The Royal Ballet after a long period of recovery from a knee injury. He was terrific in The Winters Tale, and and was also in the new Alistair Marriot piece at the Opera House where he danced so beautifully and sensitively.

Grace Blundell, who is in her last year at The Royal Ballet School, is joining The Royal Ballet as an Apprentice. She has been coming to us since she was around 10.

Matthew Ball © Johan Perrson

An Evening with Yorkshire Ballet Summer School

Join us for a special evening on Wednesday 23 July in the Conference Hall at Askham Bryan. At 5.00 pm there will be a screening of the film “Madam and the Dying Swan”, which some of you saw in London last year and, judging by your comments, found very moving. The film will be followed by a Q&A session with Marguerite. There will then be a drinks Reception, followed by a short performance by some of this year’s students. The evening will end at about 7.00 pm.

Do please help us to sell tickets, by telling your friends. Further information will be on our website shortly. All help very gratefully received!

Tickets for the evening cost £25 or £20 for members of our Friends, 100 Club or Patrons circles. Please apply to or, if you are not on email, by phone on 020 8332 3080 before 17 July.

Directions to Askham Bryan are given at the end of this Newsletter.

How to apply to come and see this year’s Summer School

Priority tickets for Friends are available to watch class in the Conference Hall at Askham Bryan during the 2015 Summer School - between 20 July and 31 July, excluding Friday afternoon 25 July and Saturday 26 July. Please apply between 1 and 14 July by email to Applications will be dealt with on a first come first served basis and please remember that seats are limited, so be ready to apply on 1 July!

Remember, if you don’t get priority seats, a limited number of seats are available on each day (except Friday afternoon 26 July and Saturday 27 July) – just come to Askham Bryan on the day.

All tickets are £12 for the day and £9 for half a day, payable in cash at the door.

Patrons and 100 Club Members may also apply to watch the evening Master Classes in the Conference Hall, starting at 6 pm. The Master Class on 21 July will be given by Donald MacLeary, former Principal of The Royal Ballet, on 29 July by Belinda Hatley, former Principal of The Royal Ballet, and on 30 July by Edward Watson, Principal of The Royal Ballet. Please apply between 1 and 14 July to

For directions on how to find Askham Bryan, go to our information page. There is ample parking at Askham Bryan. Public transport is by Coastliner bus numbers 840, 843 and 845, which all stop at Askham Bryan roundabout, about 6 or 7 minutes walk from the campus. For details, go to Alternatively, taxis from York centre cost about £8 each way.

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