An Evening with Yorkshire Ballet Summer School

  • Film "Madam and The Dying Swan"
  • Q&A with Marguerite Porter, Director of Yorkshire Ballet Summer School
  • Drinks Reception
  • Pas de Deux performed by 2014 Summer School students

Join us for a special evening on Wednesday 23 July in the Conference Hall at Askham Bryan College, Askham Fields Lane, York YO23 3FR.

The screening of the film will be at 5.00 pm, followed by the Q&A session with Marguerite Porter. There will then be a drinks Reception, followed by a short performance by some of this year’s Summer School students. The evening will end at about 7.00 pm.

Yorkshire Ballet Summer School is a charity that encourages young dancers from all backgrounds and socio-economic environments, in an annual residential summer school in York. Members of The Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and other leading companies have benefitted over the years, taking students who have attended our Summer School. "Madam" herself encouraged and supported us in our early years.

Anna Pavlova from "Madam and The Dying Swan" © Blenheim Films

The beautiful solo, The Dying Swan, was originally choreographed for Anna Pavlova. In 1981 Marguerite Porter had the privilege of performing it at a charity Gala at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London. It was taught to her by "Madam", Dame Ninette de Valois, the founder of The Royal Ballet, who had watched the great Pavlova and had carefully notated the dance.

A documentary film was made in 2012 about "Madam" handing this precious piece of history on to Marguerite Porter. We screened it for our Friends in London last year and were overwhelmed by the warmth of the reception it 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 07582 822135.

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

Beyond the Barre Newsletter. Edition 4 - February 2014


This year opens with us preparing to hold the Summer School in our new venue, Askham Bryan College.  We are excited about the move, having got over the shock of having to move – you will find out how this came about in The Director’s Update.


We have good news to tell you, about both the Sadler’s Wells Gala held on 29 September 2013 and this year’s Summer School. 


We hope you enjoy this edition of Beyond the Barre.

The Director’s Update

Dear Friends,

What a year last was, certainly the most eventful since 2005 when I became Director. I was left exhilarated and exhausted in equal measure. Early in the year I received news that York St John University no longer wanted us, and as from 2014 we needed to find another venue. This was of course a tremendous shock after 13 years of what had appeared to be a mutually happy association. This news came just before our first fundraiser of the year, our Dying Swan Evening at the Linbury in February. Sheila Zajac, friend and YBSS Trustee, took on the task of trying to find a new venue as I was frantic with The Dying Swan. After many enquiries she found Askham Bryan College, which is 10 minutes from the centre of York.

© Nobby Clark

The Head of the College and her team were very enthusiastic, so on a cold and very wet spring day I went up to York to meet them. The campus is beautiful, the accommodation great with every room en suite, the studios spacious and most importantly the people are delightful and are very excited about having us. Hopefully this will be a long and happy relationship.

The Dying Swan Evening was a great success and, although not enough tickets sold, we felt it raised the profile and brought us many new Friends. Straight after ‘The Swan’ came preparations for the scholarship audition, which I spoke of in the last edition of Beyond the Barre.

The Summer School was a joy. I lost two teachers at the eleventh hour. Laura Connor suggested Yosvani Ramos, former Principal with English National Ballet and now freelance. Still at his peak as a dancer (a treat for the students to see such beautifully demonstrated work), he was wonderful.His teaching skills are impeccable. Coming from Cuba, part of their training as a dancer from a young age is to learn to teach. Paul Lewis, Patricia Linton and David Pickering returned to us, all marvellous teachers and Laurent Novis (Ballet Master with the Paris Opera) also returned. He is a very fine teacher indeed. Sir Anthony Dowell gave a Master Class of outstanding quality to the boys and the glorious Donald MacLeary taught a pas de deux class. Both were hugely successful.

After the Summer School it was straight into Gala preparations and you’ll find the good news about the Gala and the story behind it below.

It is impossible to find words to express my deep and heartfelt gratitude to all of you who have supported us loyally throughout the year and through The Dying Swan and the Gala. It means so much to all of us at YBSS.

Warmest wishes

Marguerite Porter

Student news

Matthew Ball is now fully recovered from a very serious knee operation and is beginning to perform on stage with the Royal Ballet. 

Reece Clarke © Johan Persson

Reece Clarke, who was taken into the Royal Ballet Company before he had completed his 3 years at the Royal Ballet School, is doing extremely well. He looked marvellous in Jewels and is very happy.

Kieran Brooks who is in his final year at the Royal Ballet School has accepted an offer of a contract to join the Zurich Ballet Company.

Ryan Gascinski, who was a scholarship recipient of YBSS for many years, has just returned from New York where he auditioned for a Broadway show. He was offered a job but sadly at present cannot accept since he hasn’t got a Green Card. He is turning more towards musical theatre than classical ballet, and we wish him well in this transition.

Laurretta Summerscales is ‘flying’ in English National Ballet.  I was thrilled to see her perform so beautifully in Le Corsaire alongside Tamara Rojo.

Finally our Brandon Lawrence continues to enjoy his time in Birmingham Royal Ballet. He is doing more and more ‘special’ roles and is extremely happy.

© Brendan Hopkinson

An Autumn Gala of Dance & Song

The Director reports:

“By August I was trying to ‘pin the artists down’ and get a show together (difficult August being holiday time).  The programme was to go to print early September and without confirmed artists it was a tricky time.   Trustee Anthony Vernon was a godsend during this period and helped (along with the BalletBoyz and James Illman at Oberon Books) to get the programme done. 

Richard Clifford, dear friend, Trustee and Gala Director was an enormous support;  I could not have got through it without him.

Diary Entry August 30th:  In despair, exhausted, not sleeping, builders in house, noise, mess, squalor. Still working on programme trying to get ads, blogs, text, music etc… Still do not know if Sergei is coming and cannot ‘raise’ BalletBoyz to tell them Craig Revel Horwood has cancelled.

On September 9th, 399 tickets had sold – 20 days to go and 1,100 more to sell – holding my nerve was very difficult.  Then dear Anya Sainsbury telephoned (having ‘met up’ with her the previous week, she had seen the fear in my eyes) and gaily said she had bought 30 seats for The Rambert students. This was followed by a call from the wonderful Aud Jebsen who bought 60 tickets for Royal Ballet School students, and finally James Hogan and Charles Glanville (Oberon Books) who had so generously sponsored the programme bought 69 seats for the English National Ballet students, all unbelievable generosity from such dear friends. This was a huge turning point, it lifted our spirits no end and what a thrill for the very appreciative students.

The Gala was a joy, a happy day from beginning to end with not one Diva moment from anyone. We sold 1,100 tickets and made our target of almost £35,000."

Read the review of the Gala on Dancing Review

Looking Ahead

We are hoping to hold a ticketed event in York during this year’s Summer School (19 July to 1 August) and will let you know as soon as we have details confirmed.  Our first priority will be to install ourselves in Askham Bryan and planning this event will be easier once the practical details of running the Summer School from there are in place.

A Message to our “Dying Swan” Friends

Some of you were made Friends as a thank you for coming to our “Dying Swan” evening in February last year. Your year of free membership is now expiring and we very much hope you – and any other Friends whose memberships have expired – will wish to renew your membership, as a way to keep in touch with us but also, vitally, to support our work.

To renew your membership, please click below to go to our website, then fill in and return to us the form which you’ll find there. Please remember to fill in the Gift Aid section of the form too.

Renew your membership

If you want any help filling in the form or can’t access our website, please call us on 020 8332 3080 or write to us at

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

Priority tickets will be available to watch class at Askham Bryan during the 2014 Summer School (between 19 July and 1 August, excluding Friday afternoon 25 July and Saturday 26 July).

We will give you further details about how to apply in the June edition of Beyond the Barre.  Priority booking will open on 1 July.

become a friend
new venue for 2014
Tickets to Madam and the dying Swan