Based at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, The Royal Ballet is Great Britain’s most prestigious ballet company. Led by Director Monica Mason, Principals include Leanne Benjamin, Federico Bonelli, Alina Cojocaru, Lauren Cuthbertson, Mara Galeazzi, Nehemiah Kish, Johan Kobborg, Sarah Lamb, David Makhateli, Roberta Marquez, Steven McRae, Laura Morera, Marianela Nuñez, Rupert Pennefather, Sergei Polunin, Tamara Rojo, Thiago Soares, Edward Watson and Zenaida Yanowsky . Carlos Acosta is a Principal Guest Artist.
The Company’s wide-ranging repertory showcases the great classical ballets including The Royal Ballets own heritage, alongside new works by the foremost international choreographers of today and choreographers from within the Company’s own ranks. This range embraces all the celebrated three-act classical ballets, together with works by Founder Choreographer Frederick Ashton and Principal Choreographer Kenneth MacMillan, ballets by George Balanchine, Christopher Wheeldon, Wayne McGregor and rising British talents.
Access is a key issue for the Company, via televised and cinematic performances, outdoor Big Screen performances, international touring and through the work of the Company’s Education Department which runs an enormous range of projects, varying from single preparatory workshops for school-children attending special low-priced schools’ performances to six-month projects involving professional dancers and children and culminating in performances at local theatres.
The Royal Ballet owes its existence to the vision of Dame Ninette de Valois, dancer, choreographer and entrepreneur, who assembled a small company and school, the Vic-Wells Ballet, and, in 1931, persuaded Lilian Baylis to provide it with a home at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre in North London. (The Company also performed at the Old Vic Theatre, hence its original name). They remained at Sadler’s Wells Theatre until 1939 and spent the war years touring widely in Great Britain and, to a lesser extent, in Europe, performing for the Allied troops. Immediately afterwards, in February 1946, they transferred to the Royal Opera House, premiering a new full-length production of The Sleeping Beauty to reopen Covent Garden as a lyric theatre after its war-time closure. In 1956, to mark its 25th anniversary, the name The Royal Ballet was granted by Royal Charter.
The 15 May 2006 was the 75th anniversary of The Royal Ballet. The Company marked this occasion with a recreation of The Sleeping Beauty. In December 2006, following the award-winning success of Chroma, Wayne McGregor was appointed The Royal Ballet’s Resident Choreographer. In April 2007, conductor Barry Wordsworth was re-appointed Music Director for the Company. Monica Mason was created a Dame Commander for her services to dance in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List published on 13 June 2008. She is now in her eighth season as Director, having been appointed to the post in December 2002.