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Monica Mason appointed RB director

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#1 Alexandra


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Posted 18 December 2002 - 06:48 AM

Here's the press release, from the ROH site:

Monica Mason Appointed Director of The Royal Ballet

18 December 2002


Sir Colin Southgate, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Royal Opera House, announced today the appointment of Monica Mason as the Director of The Royal Ballet with immediate effect. Since the departure of Ross Stretton, in September 2002, she has been Acting Director for the Company.

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Monica Mason came to England at the age of 14, training at the Nesta Brooking School of Ballet and the Royal Ballet School. She joined The Royal Ballet in 1958 when she was only 16, the youngest member of the Company at that time. After a brief period in the corps de ballet, she was selected by Kenneth MacMillan to create the demanding role of the Chosen Maiden in The Rite of Spring, which was premiered in 1962. One year later she was appointed Soloist. She became a Principal in 1968.

Her repertory included purely classical roles including Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, the title role in Giselle, the Prelude and Mazurka in Les Sylphides and the leading role in Raymonda Act III as well as dramatic parts such as the Hostess in Les Biches and the Black Queen in Checkmate. In 1974 and 1975 Kenneth MacMillan created four roles for her: Lescaut's Mistress in Manon, Calliope Rag in Elite Syncopations, Summer in The Four Seasons and the Midwife in Rituals.

A highly praised interpreter of the leading roles in MacMillan's Song of the Earth, Nijinska's Les Noces and Nureyev's `Kingdom of the Shades scene from La Bayadère, she was in the first performances by The Royal Ballet of Hans van Manen's Adagio Hammerklavier, Jerome Robbins’ Dances at a Gathering and In the Night, Balanchine's Liebeslieder Walzer and Tudor's Dark Elegies. Other major roles have included the Lilac Fairy in The Sleeping Beauty, Empress Elisabeth and Mitzi Caspar in MacMillan's Mayerling; the title role in The Firebird; Variation I in Frederick Ashton's Birthday Offering, the Fairy Godmother and Winter Fairy in Cinderella and Lady Elgar in Enigma Variations; and the Queen of Denmark in Helpmann's Hamlet. In 1980 she created a leading role in David Bintley's Adieu, and, in 1981, Nursey in Kenneth MacMillan's Isadora. After she stopped dancing ballerina roles, she continued to appear regularly in mime roles such as Carabosse in The Sleeping Beauty and Lady Capulet in MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet and she recently created the role of Mrs Grose in William Tuckett’s The Turn of the Screw.

In 1980 Monica Mason was appointed Répétiteur to Kenneth MacMillan followed in 1984 by her appointment as Principal Répétiteur to The Royal Ballet. In January 1991, after a four year period of assisting Anthony Dowell, she became Assistant Director.

In July 1996, under the auspices of Roehampton Institute London, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Surrey. She was created an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2002 New Year Honours List.

Commenting on the appointment, Sir Colin Southgate said, “The Board is delighted that Monica Mason has agreed to take up the reins as Director of The Royal Ballet. She has already impressed us with the swiftness with which she restored calm to the Company and the changes that she has introduced to the repertory this season. I personally look forward to her exciting plans for the future.”

Tony Hall, Executive Director of the Royal Opera House, added, “I am delighted with Monica Mason’s appointment as Director of The Royal Ballet. She has made an enormous contribution to the Company as a dancer, a coach and in particular through her work as custodian of the Kenneth MacMillan repertory. With such extensive knowledge and experience of the Company, she is perfectly placed to take The Royal Ballet through the next period of its history until the summer of 2007. I am thrilled to be working with Monica”

Monica Mason said, “I am deeply honoured to be appointed Director of this great Company. Over the last three months I have been overwhelmed by the support given to me by everybody at the Royal Opera House and the dance community at large. I am very excited at the prospect of leading the Company over the next four and a half years, during which we will celebrate the Company’s 75th Birthday.”

#2 Brendan McCarthy

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Posted 18 December 2002 - 06:49 AM

The news was announced this afternoon.

There will be inevitable speculation about the appointment of an assistant. Whoever it is will be a strong favourite to succeed Monica Mason when her term finishes.

#3 Lolly


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Posted 18 December 2002 - 08:26 AM


#4 anoushka



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Posted 18 December 2002 - 09:08 AM

Oh what good news! Who do you think for her Assistant Director then?

#5 Juliet


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Posted 18 December 2002 - 09:17 AM

Well, they didn't waste any time.
Why is it only until the summer of 2007? (Sorry if I missed something important along the way.)

#6 Alexandra


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Posted 18 December 2002 - 09:19 AM

Filling out Stretton's three-year term and then a three-year term of her own? (That's a guess -- if anyone knows, please correct.)

#7 Jane Simpson

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Posted 18 December 2002 - 09:21 AM

She'll be 65 at the start of the 2006/2007 season, which is compulsory retiring age in the company. (At least, it is now, but our government seems to be moving towards a 'work till you drop' culture, so who knows what it will be by that time?)

#8 Ari


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Posted 18 December 2002 - 09:26 AM

What a lucky thing they didn't have a compulsory retirement age when de Valois was around. :)

#9 grace


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Posted 18 December 2002 - 11:40 AM



#10 Mel Johnson

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Posted 18 December 2002 - 11:44 AM

This is the best news I've heard in a loooong time! Thanks!:)

#11 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 18 December 2002 - 12:10 PM

aaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! :) :) :) :) :)

#12 Dale


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Posted 18 December 2002 - 12:34 PM

I hope people in London consider this wonderful news, because I do. I was trying to explain why I was happy after just reading the news to somebody who is not interested in ballet, "You know how we're always complaining that the people who get put in charge are the wrong ones, who are only interested in their own betterment and make self-centered moves and then tell everybody how great it is? Well, for the first time in a long time the right person with good judgement and the best intentions was given the reigns some place."

#13 sylvia


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Posted 18 December 2002 - 01:00 PM

I think it's great news! I think the RB's in good hands and given just the changes to the 2002-3 season I'm really positive about it's future.

#14 grace


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Posted 18 December 2002 - 01:02 PM

brendan's point is certainly a good one.

"There will be inevitable speculation about the appointment of an assistant. Whoever it is will be a strong favourite to succeed Monica Mason when her term finishes."

the obvious choices of sansom and/or bull will likely generate some debate...

it seems to me that it is inevitable that sansom will become RB AD at some point - and rightly so. the question is just 'when?' today's appointment makes for an appropriate timeline, for mason to hand over to one or other of these people, who, by then, will have acquired a reasonable amount of management experience.

still...who knows how the world will change in 4 years...

#15 LMCtech


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Posted 18 December 2002 - 03:06 PM

Bruce Sansom is a wonderful, intelligent, resourceful guy who is getting himself the best possible training to become an AD somewhere. I would be very happy to hear he had been apponted assistant.

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