Some thoughts from Scotland on Genée 2013
Jennifer MacFarlane, our Regional Manager in Scotland reflects after a very successful Genée in Glasgow:
As the curtain closes on 13 very exciting months of fundraising events in the lead up to the Glasgow Genée International Ballet Competition, I reflect on just some of the highlights.
Our fundraising campaign got off to a great start with the '2012 Christmas with Chris' talk and accompanying fun ballet class from Julie Bowers. Over the following months teachers and schools across the country baked, danced and held all manner of sponsored events. Dansarena held a very successful costume sale, CSBS tirelessly took photographs at every single RAD regional event and donated 50% of photograph sales. We held an extra Awards day raising over £3,000 at the Junior Awards in May. The biggest single fundraising project we had was 'Genée Uncovered' – a national initiative that united RAD schools, Dance School of Scotland, musicians and Scottish Ballet in a quirky and slightly risky 2013 Academic Calendar. It was a great team building exercise to see people putting historical difference aside for the good of the Academy and the competition.
A newly created Genée fundraising committee by the Regional Advisory Committee of Scotland was formed to help me with all the extra duties and consisted of Sara Wood, Eilidh McRae, Amanda Clark and chaired by Yvonne Gray – each had a very important part to play and various fundraising responsibilities. We sourced goody bag items for the candidates from as far as Australia, organised fundraisers, coordinated the calendar photo shoots and encouraged colleagues to engage fully too in any chosen aspect of the fundraising process. My huge thanks go to everyone who has helped and especially to RAD Scotland chairman Yvonne Gray who has given tirelessly of her time and effort throughout the past 13 months.
And the regional RAD team played an important part too in raising the competition's profile in each region and also by taking part in the most amusing sponsored dance class – the 'Highland Fling Humiliation' took place in Edinburgh in June 2013 with Karen Berry teaching an arduous modern Highland Dance class which was filmed – all the regional team took part. The day was also supported by the attendance of Artistic Director Lynn Wallis, Finance & Administration Director Richard Thom and Interim Director of Marketing & Communications Matthew Cunningham. Matthew's finale was a high point of the entire performance!
Our main fundraising focus during the Genée itself was the 'Highland Fling ceilidh dinner' which took place on the Saturday evening before the Final. With 297 guests in attendance at the Thistle hotel Ballroom, this truly turned into a night to remember. Scottish teachers kindly donated some fantastic auction prizes and the auction raised £8,400. The highlight of the evening for many was lot 6 in the exciting auction – a Darcey Bussell tutu which was finally sold for £3,000 to Scottish teacher Gail Neish. As you see from the photo, she was very pleased with her purchase and the opportunity to meet Darcey Bussell the next day! With a raffle taking place as well plus proceeds from ticket sales, this one evening raised over £15,700. Guests enjoyed short performances by the Celia Orr School of Highland Dancers, the Dance School of Scotland and the Royal Conservatoire. The evening was rounded off by ceilidh dancing to the Picts Band.
With the second day of the Semi-finals and the Final sold out, Scotland enjoyed a truly fantastic weekend of ballet and of course, the icing on the cake was a Scottish medal winner at the Final – Natasha Watson from Ballet West gained a bronze medal (after being the overall winner at the Senior Awards day earlier in September) Natasha commented: 'it was the biggest surprise ever to win. I had an extraordinary week and the highlight for me was working with Robert Binet. Now it is back to work in the studio as I start Year 1 of my degree at Ballet West'. Her teacher Jonathan Barton commented: 'The experience of all our students at each Genée is like the equivalent of six months additional training for each student – they come back inspired and focused. When I heard Natasha had won a medal, I literally jumped out of my seat in excitement and I am really happy that all the extra hours of work, effort and commitment put in has been rewarded. The entire school is looking forward to Antwerp already'.
Overall, I am very very proud of all that Scotland has achieved in the last 13 months – for a small country, our fundraising total was £36,100 (over five times our original target). Finances are important but even more so is the sense of team work within and between RAD schools, for me to have had the chance to work on a project with RAD HQ colleagues and to be supported by the fantastic regional team plus a real feeling that along with our legacy partner, Creative Scotland and 'Get Scotland Dancing', we will make a difference to the lives of people in Scotland through the legacy of the Glasgow Genée International Ballet Competition. With the recent BBC main news bulletin coverage plus other Scottish media coverage, the profile of the Academy has also significantly been raised in Scotland.
I have received calls and emails from lots of people in various countries over the last few days but as one person commented: 'This was the greatest weekend of my life and at 70, I have had some remarkable times! Thanks to you and all the team for a fabulous event – the warm Scottish hospitality greeted us at the door as soon as we entered the Thistle hotel and there was not a stone unturned as regards attention to detail and making us all feel so special and most welcome. The Highland Fling dinner and ceilidh was a triumph and the atmosphere at the Final was the most exciting I have ever experienced'.
To all involved, thank you most sincerely. And as we look to 2014, I wish the members in Benelux the very best of luck in hosting the next Genée in Antwerp.