I was thrilled by Dame Monica Mason’s talk at St Hilda’s College on Wednesday and the brief extracts of archive footage of her in performance. I saw her as the Chosen Maiden in the 1982 revival at the Royal Opera House, and I remember the excitement of the occasion, and Kenneth MacMillan coming on stage at the end. Unthinking and ignorant, I had no idea at the time that she had created the role for MacMillan, or of the vital connections between her generation of dancers and the Ballets Russes. Her anecdotes about Lydia Sokolova (who shut her eyes at the first night and “danced her own version”) and Marie Rambert’s sometimes embarrassing enthusiasm were both touching and hilarious, and there was a wonderful moment when she stepped forward to demonstrate what it was like to respond to MacMillan’s suggestions as he choreographed in the studio. (more…)

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