LONDON Love&Hate 愛と憎しみのロンドン

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A life in ballet: Monica Mason


Mason grew frustrated. Yet when she steeled herself to ask Frederick Ashton – now director of the company – why he did not use her more, Ashton claimed, evasively and outrageously that he didn't like Mason's nose. He suggested she might have it fixed. Today Mason enjoys the effrontery of that remark – "imagine me having that conversation with my dancers" – although at the time she almost considered having the surgery.


She has deliberately made no plans for what she will do next, other than heading off to the Apple Shop to sign up for computer lessons. "I don't even know how to turn a computer on. I've always had someone else to do my emails for me."


The Royal Ballet: a new era awaits


She(ロホ) is also a popular teacher, in which role she could do much to align the Royal Ballet school and company, currently at damaging odds with each other.

Worldwide, the Royal Ballet is held in high regard. Inevitably, though, cracks have been papered over, the most serious of which relates to the Royal Ballet School. Most great ballet schools – the Vaganova Academy in St Petersburg, the School of American Ballet in New York, the Paris Opera Ballet School – stream home-grown students into their parent companies, in this way maintaining the traditions and national character of those companies. The Royal Ballet School, by contrast, fills itself with fee-paying foreign students and cherry-picked international competition-winners, to the degree that local talent barely gets a look in. This is a source of real anger among the parents of young British dancers, and of considerable frustration among those who would like to see the Royal Ballet rediscover its connection to the national community that, among other things, pays for it to exist.



Where is the Royal Ballet's leap of faith?



Tamara Rojo: 'Ballet dancers don't enjoy the pain. We're not masochists'


Surely the competition and jealousies between principal dancers are real – the use of several different casts for the same productions almost guarantees that, allowing critics and balletomanes to compare and contrast. "Of course there is competition, but it is – at least in my case – a very healthy competition." Rojo is said to have a fiercely competitive relationship with Alina Cojocaru, the Romanian-born dancer who has been a principal alongside her at the Royal Ballet for the past 10 years. Is there any truth in that? "We love each other," she insists. "I really admire Alina, and I learn from her all the time." She says it's the fans who stoke the wars. "They are the bad people. They have issues. They want to be pro this person or against that person. It's not us." Dancers are like footballers, and their fans come to cheer them on – and barrack the other side.


Called to the barre: Tamara Rojo interview


12,000 pack in to see Royal Ballet's Romeo and Juliet debut at the O2





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