Above: Colin Peasley and Frank Leo reminisce, as the portrait of Dame Peggy van Praagh, reflected in the studio mirror, seems to overlook proceedings.
Our evening function on 31 March 2010 celebrated the memory of Ray Powell, dancer, ballet master, teacher, choreographer, and all-round "character". Members have fond memories of Ray not only on stage but as someone who, with fellow raconteur Colin Peasley OAM, entertained us at many evening functions. The idea for the Memoir came from Barbara Nimmo. Our President Josie Woodgate OAM opened proceedings and Colin followed with a brief account of Ray's life in dance. We then watched a film compiled by Matthew Donnelly showing glimpses of Ray on stage in his many roles. After this, Frank Leo joined Colin in recalling memories of Ray, including dinner parties where the host often went to bed and the guests washed the dishes - and the small dogs who were his constant companions even during teaching sessions. After the talk, members were able to inspect some of the costumes worn by Ray in his various roles, assembled by Barbara Langley. The evening concluded as usual with a supper of sandwiches and wine, giving members a chance to socialise and to talk to the speakers.
Frank Leo, Barbara Nimmo, Widow Simone costume, Colin Peasley, and Paul Brickhill.
Ray entered the Sadler's Wells Ballet School in 1940 and danced with the Sadler's Wells and Royal Ballets. In 1962, Peggy van Praagh invited him to join her in the establishment of The Australian Ballet, as ballet master. From 1972, Ray shared, with Bryan Ashbridge, the position of Associate Director. Ray taught at The Australian Ballet School from 1985. His choreography included One in Five (justly described by Colin as a "mini-classic"), Just for Fun, Roundelay, Symphony in Gold, and Beethoven Dances. Ray's roles on stage included Bootface in Lady and the Fool, Sancho Panza in Don Quixote, the Widow Simone in La Fille mal gardée, Njegus in The Merry Widow and Dr Coppélius in Coppélia. Colin noted that in all these roles, Ray entered into the character with feeling and sensitivity, rather than playing the simple buffoon or stage widow.
Grateful thanks to the following busy people who contributed their time to make the evening a success:
From The Australian Ballet:
Colin Peasley OAM, Education Programme Manager,
Frank Leo, Artistic Administrator & Assistant to Music Director & Chief Conductor,
Barbara Langley, Wardrobe Manager,
Matthew Donnelly, Soloist.
From The Australian Ballet School:
Paul Brickhill, Head of Music and Audio-Visual Coordinator.
Reference: Australia Dancing.