April 2016 Speaker
CHELMSFORD BALLET COMPANY – BEHIND THE SCENES
[It was announced that the new Chairman would be Avis Thompson and that there would be a Tea Party for members on Saturday, 4th June, 2016 from 2-4pm to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday.]
The speaker was Marion Pettet, chairman of the Chelmsford Ballet Company, who began by asking how many of the audience had been ballet dancers. She was disappointed that just a handful of members had tried this form of dancing in the past. She explained how the Company had come about - in 1947 when Joan Weston created the Broomfield YMCA Ballet Company, then the Company was formed in 1949 to give senior students, at the existing dance school, the opportunity to perform to the public. The then Mayor of Chelmsford attended the 1949 performance of Coppelia at the Shire Hall and he suggested the name of The Chelmsford Ballet Company.
Marion said they hold regular classes and standards are such that both junior (age 10) and standard grade (up to 13) and senior (over 13) must audition to become members and again each year to perform in any production. These standards are maintained through the monthly Company classes.
Now each year the Civic Theatre gives a date in advance when the yearly production will take place. This year in March Sleeping Beauty was performed and in 2015 it was The Carnival of the Animals. Unfortunately choosing a ballet, which the public is unfamiliar with, may lead to a loss due to lack of support. In recent years a loss was made of £18,000 over two productions, which is difficult to bear with the slender resources that are available. She said Cinderella is very popular but the music is difficult to dance to.
Members had it explained to them that making masks for some characters is expensive and there are few makers , often resulting in the Company never actually meeting the maker. Some costumes are made in the workshops and some at a cost of $450 from overseas. Behind the scenes lightweight scaffolding is made to hold props and Marion said her husband is responsible for the design and making of many fittings. She showed short videos and pictures to illustrate a “behind the scenes” look at the props. Throughout her talk many photos were shown of dancers and some videos with music were also displayed.
After questions Marion was given a well-deserved round of applause and she responded by saying that members might like to see some of the artefacts she had at the front of the hall. When people came forward she explained the materials used in them and that anyone who was a size 8 could try one of the dresses – there were no takers!