Monica Mason

(b. 1941)

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(b Johannesburg, 6 Sept. 1941)

South African-born British dancer. She studied with Ruth Inglestone, Nesta Brooking, and at the Royal Ballet School before joining the Royal Ballet in 1958, aged 16, where she was appointed soloist in 1963 and principal in 1968. A particular favourite of MacMillan's, she was still a member of the corps de ballet when he picked her to create the role of the Chosen Maiden in his Rite of Spring (1962). She also created roles in his Manon (1974), Elite Syncopations (1974), The Four Seasons (1975), Rituals (1975), and Isadora (1981). A strong, versatile dancer with a vibrant personality, her other repertory included Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, The Firebird, Enigma Variations, Bayadère, Cinderella, Mayerling, and Romeo and Juliet. She was appointed principal repetiteur of the Royal Ballet in 1984 and assistant director in 1991. In 1999 she returned to the stage to create the role of Mrs Grose in William Tuckett's The Turn of the Screw. She was appointed director of the Royal Ballet in 2002, and in that role has overseen the restoration of several heritage works to the repertory—including Ashton's Sylvia, a one-act version of MacMillan's Isadora, and elements of the Royal's signature 1946 staging of Sleeping Beauty. In 2006 she was also responsible for appointing McGregor as resident choreographer, entrusting to him the task of injecting a contemporary dynamic into the company.

Subjects: Dance.

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