Curtains as Covent Garden goes into exile

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The Independent Online
The Royal Ballet last night gave its final performance at Covent Garden, central London, before the two-year closure for its controversial pounds 213m redevelopment.

Irek Mukhamedov, Darcey Bussell, Sylvie Guillem and all the company's leading dancers were taking part in a mixed programme featuring Twyla Tharp's Push Comes To Shove, William Forsythe's Steptext, Pyotr Gusev's version of The Talisman pas de deux and George Balanchine's Symphony in C.

On Monday, artists from both the Royal Ballet and Royal Opera will participate in the very last extravaganza before closure; the Farewell Gala, featuring Placido Domingo, Bryn Terfel, Sylvie Guillem and Darcey Bussell, which will be screened live on BBC2.

The Royal Opera House will be closed for two years for the renovation, being done with the help of a pounds 78m National Lottery grant. The Royal Opera and Royal Ballet will now go "on the road".

The Royal Ballet is going to the Royal Festival Hall on London's South Bank, and to the Labatt's Apollo, Hammersmith, while the Royal Opera is set to perform at the Barbican in the City of London, the Shaftsbury Theatre, the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal Festival Hall and at the Edinburgh Festival.

The last weeks of the two companies at the Royal Opera House have been tarnished by controversy surrounding the departure of the chief executive, Genista McIntosh, and her replacement with the Arts Council secretary- general, Mary Allen.

n A dance teacher yesterday won her claim for unfair dismissal against the Royal Ballet School - but she will not get her job back. Linda Goss had alleged that she was fired because in 1996 because she repeatedly alleged that children were a bullied and mocked by staff.

But an industrial tribunal in Croydon, while agreeing she was unfairly dismissed, said it was because the school needed to make changes in staff, not through victimisation.

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