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A Countess’s Chassè: Sophie attends ballet performance in Newbury, Berkshire

The Countess of Wessex has spent a night at the ballet and it was all part of her work to promote education and the arts. The Countess attended a performance by dancers from the Central School of Ballet at the Newbury Spring Festival in Berkshire.


The Countess of Wessex has been Royal Patron of the Central School of Ballet since 2003 – she is seen here with one of its dancers on a visit to Paris in 2013.

Sophie is the Royal Patron of the Central School of Ballet – a role she took on in 2003. Students in their final year at the school are given the chance to experience professional performing through working with the school’s touring company, Ballet Central. And it was this group that entertained their royal visitor as well as several hundred others in the audience on this special evening.

The President of the Central School of Ballet, Anna Sieff, was on hand to welcome The Countess of Wessex to the Corn Exchange in Newbury where the performance took place. Sophie was also welcomed by the school’s chairman, Ralph Bernard and its director, Sara Matthews before taking her seat for a show which incorporated ballet, contemporary and narrative dance.

‘We were thrilled that Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex was able to join us,’ Sara Matthews said. ‘The annual tour offers a chance to see some of the most  highly skilled, new dance talent perform newly commissioned works and much-loved revivals  by the industry’s top choreographers.’

Ballet Central is marking its 30th anniversary this year and its performance at Newbury is part of a nationwide tour celebrating that landmark. The company is around halfway through its special performances which began back in March and which will take it around the UK until the middle of July.

The Newbury Spring Festival began in 1979 and aims to bring music and entertainment to a wide audience. This year there will be 45 concerts across its two weeks and they will take place in 20 venues either in or near Newbury including Englefield House where Elizabeth I once dined and Highclere Castle which is now better known as the setting for Downton Abbey, a show which hasn’t been short of royal visitors this year including Sophie herself who popped on to the set with the First Lady of Mexico, Angelica Rivera, during the State Visit in March.

The Newbury Spring Festival has grown greatly since those first concerts back in 1979 and this year, thanks to the visit of The Countess of Wessex, it also has royal approval.

Photo credit: UK in France via Flickr

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