English ballerina Cordelia Braithwaite has been a regular with Sir Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures Company productions since 2013. In a few short years, the 23 year-old has played both the Italian and Spanish Princesses and the Girlfriend in Sir Matthew’s production of SWAN LAKE before playing Mercedes, Frankie and Lana in THE CAR MAN, followed by Aurora and Hibernia in SLEEPING BEAUTY. She is currently sharing the lead role of gifted ballerina Vicky Page with Ashley Shaw in THE RED SHOES, which completed a sell-out, two-month run at Sadler’s Wells, where she signed my sketch before embarking on a national tour.
Sir Matthew Bourne’s full-length ballet adaption of the 1948 film THE RED SHOES is currently touring the UK after a sold-out, two-month season at Sadler’s Wells in London where it had it’s World Premiere over the Christmas period. It is based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale about Vicky Page, a young dancer, who is forced to choose between fulfilling her dream and falling in love. Australian ballerina Ashley Shaw plays the lead role, fresh from featuring in Sir Matthew’s dazzling re-imaging of the ballet fairytale SLEEPING BEAUTY which has smashed box office records across the UK and US. She signed this sketch for me at Sadler’s last week.
Spanish ballerina Elisa Badenes is a Principal dancer at the Stuttgart Ballet and a Guest Artist with the English National Ballet. She has just competed the London Coliseum leg of the UK tour of Abram Khan’s production of GISELLE. After attending the Conservatorio Profesional de Danna de Valencia in her home town she won a scholarship at the Prix de Lausanne in 2008 to study at the Royal Ballet, graduating a year later. She joined the Stuttgart Ballet and quickly rose to her current Principal position. I left this sketch at the stage door on Sunday, just before Elisa danced the final performance and it arrived back yesterday, signed and dedicated.
Minsk-born ballerina Ksenia Ovsyanick was awarded a scholarship to study at the English Royal Ballet School in London after performing at the 2005 Prix de Lausanne. After graduating three years later she joined the company, becoming a Soloist in 2014. This year she left the ENB to become a Principal with the Berlin Staatsballett which starts its 2016/17 season this weekend.
One of the highlights of her time at the English Ballet was performing the title role in the World Premiere of FIREBIRD at the London Coliseum in March 2012 as part of the BEYOND BALLET RUSSES programme. This sketch is based on that role with Ksenia wearing the distinctive headdress and winged harness. She signed it for me at the ENB before leaving for Germany.
When Moscow-born ballet dancer Maria Alexandrova became a Principal with the Bolshoi Ballet in 2004, she was considered by audiences and critics in both Russia and beyond as the most distinctive ballerina of the new century. She is one of those rare dancers who have a commanding stage presence and superb technique.
Her signature moves are a soaring jump and extraordinary ballon (that’s the ability to being lightweight and effortlessly airborne). She won the Gold medal at the Moscow International Ballet Competition, which she put in perspective.” The main thing is not to be first, but to be the best.” Maria was in London recently with the Bolshoi as part of it’s Diamond Jubilee three-week summer season at the Royal Opera House with a five programme repertoire, including DON QUIXOTE, THE FLAMES OF PARIS and LE CORSAIRE where she kindly signed my sketch.
I drew an initial sketch of Russian ballet star Ekaterina Krysanova and dropped it into the Royal Opera House in London for her to sign during the Bolshoi Ballet’s three-week Diamond Anniversary residency at Covent Garden recently. ‘Bolshoi’ literally means ‘big’ and she’s one of their biggest names. I immediately received a very nice complimentary note back, but, alas no signed sketch. This has happened on a few occasions when people inadvertently forget to include the sketch. I redrew this one and popped it back to the Opera House. This time my second letter contained the prize. I did say she could keep the initial drawing.
After graduating from the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in 2003, the Moscow native joined the famous company rising to Lead Soloist in 2009, before becoming a Principal.
Among her many medals is the Gold at the 2001 at the Prix de Luxemborg International Ballet Competition.
She was the only Principal to appear in all five productions DON QUIXOTE, SWAN LAKE, TAMING OF THE SHREW, THE FLAMES OF PARIS and LE CORSAIRE this year, so I was super appreciative she took the time out of a hectic schedule to accommodate my requests.
One of the more interesting autographs came back this week. Interesting in the sense of the writing implement used. Leading soloist with the Bolshoi Ballet Kristina Kretova signed her sketch in what looks like a magenta crayon, possibly a grease paint theatrical makeup without any detailed forensic analysis. As one can imagine, sharpies are obviously a low priority item in the dressing rooms at Covent Garden. She also added a little ballerina pictogram. Very cool. Sixty years after it’s first visit to London, the famous Russian company has just finished it’s Diamond Jubilee Guest Tour series of concerts at the Royal Opera House.
Kristina graduated from one of the Bolshoi’s feeder schools, the Moscow State Choreographic Academy in 2002. But instead of joining the main company, she went to a smaller one, the Kremlin Ballet Theatre, where she was immediately promoted to Soloist and able to perform lead roles in classical ballets such as GISELLE and THE SLEEPING BEAUTY. She joined the Bolshoi in 2011 and during this summer’s London run performed in all five productions, DON QUIXOTE, SWAN LAKE, THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, THE FLAMES OF PARIS and LE CORSAIRE.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal during the Bolshoi’s season at the Lincoln Center in 2014, Kristina commented on facing the New York critics. “Nerves aren’t a problem. As a mother I have bigger things to worry about.” If she worried every night she would be crazy already she added. The critics praised her performances by the way. The 32 year-old has a young son… who may have some crayons… suitable for colouring in…. and signing sketches? I wonder.
The Boshoi were back in London town. The world’s most famous ballet company, the Moscow-based Bolshoi returned for a three-week summer residency which has just concluded at the Royal Opera House. They have been regular visitors to Covent Garden and this year marked the 60th anniversary of the company’s first visit, staging five productions – DON QUIXOTE, SWAN LAKE, THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, THE FLAMES OF PARIS and LE CORSAIRE.
Considered the Company’s rising star is Prima Ballerina Olga Smirnova, was given the honour and responsibility of opening the season, dancing Kitri in DON QUIXOTE with fellow Principal Denis Rodkin. According to The Telegraph’s Mark Monahan, Olga is a truly extraordinary talent, the “brightest new Jewel in the Bolsho Ballet’s glittering crown.” He went on to praise her ‘formidable’ physical gifts, “long-limbed, with a swan-like neck, superbly pliant spine and ravishing, sway-back classical line,” all of which are ideal for drawing.
Backtrack Critic Jade Larine summed up the dazzling production, “The opening night speeded the Royal Opera House’s heartbeat to an insane level of tachycardia : the Bolshoi is coming back at its best.”
Olga also performed the lead roles in SWAN LAKE and THE TAMING OF THE SHREW during the season.
She signed my sketch for me after the opening night performance.
In early 2015 I drew American ballerina Sarah Lamb in the title role of Christopher Wheeldon’s Royal Ballet production of ALICE IN WONDERLAND, which she kindly signed and I duly posted on this site. Sarah was born in Boston and became Principal of the City’s Ballet company in 2003. She received the Gold Medal from US President Bill Clinton in 1998, being named Presidential Scholar in the Arts. Sarah moved to London and joined the Royal Ballet because it ” offered more visibility and a wider repertoire.” After becoming First Soloist in 2004 she become Principal two years later with leading roles in all the classical, dramatic and contemporary repertoires.
I drew this montage at the same time I did the initial sketch and dropped it into the Royal Opera House, which she also signed and returned to me.
Sarah is currently performing at Covent Garden in the World Premiere of Liam Scarlett’s FRANKENSTEIN, inspired by Mary Shelley’s Gothic masterpiece.
Young ballet star Yasmine Naghdi is a born and bred Londoner, with an exotic name and an exotic look, courtesy of the genes from her Iranian father and Belgian mother.
Her association with the capital’s prestigious Royal Ballet began at a young age.
She was selected to represent the Royal Ballet in an exchange programme with the Vaganova Academy in St Petersburg, the school of the Marinsky Ballet Company.
Yasmine graduated from the Royal Ballet School in 2009, winning ‘The Young British Dancer of the Year’ and was offered a contact with the company at the age of 17, becoming First Artist a year later. In 2014 she became a soloist. She has established a truly International following, performing all over the globe including China, the Bolshoi in Moscow, Taiwan Japan, Barcelona, Monaco, Milan and Columbia.
During the 2015/16 season she made her principal debut as Juliet in ROMEO & JULIET as part of the Royal Ballet’s celebration to mark 50 years since Sir Kenneth MacMillian’s production premiered at Covent Garden in 1965 with Margot Fonteyn in the lead role.
I left this drawing at the Royal Opera House last October, where Yasmine signed and dedicated it for me.