South African dancer Monica Mason is a former Director of The Royal Ballet, a position she held 2002–12. She trained at The Royal Ballet School and entered the Company aged 16, becoming the Company's youngest member. Mason was appointed Répétiteur to Kenneth MacMillan in 1980, Principal Répétiteur to The Royal Ballet in 1984, Assistant Director in 1991 and Director in December 2002. To celebrate the 75th anniversary of The Royal Ballet in 2006 she and Christopher Newton revived the Company's hugely popular 1946 staging of The Sleeping Beauty.
Mason was born in Johannesburg in 1941 and came to England aged 14 to train at the Nesta Brooking School of Ballet and The Royal Ballet School, entering the Company in 1958. She was selected by MacMillan from the corps de ballet to create the demanding role of the Chosen Maiden in The Rite of Spring (1962). She went on to create several major roles for MacMillan, including Lescaut’s Mistress (Manon), Calliope Rag (Elite Syncopations), Summer (The Four Seasons) and the Midwife (Rituals). She became a Principal in 1968, dancing repertory that included classical and dramatic roles. She was also a highly praised interpreter of the lead female role in MacMillan’s Song of the Earth.
In 2002 Mason was awarded an OBE and in 2008 was created a Dame Commander for her services to dance. In 2014 she became Chairman of The Royal Ballet Benevolent Fund.
News and features
Watch: Song of the Earth discussed - 'The unique quality of the choreography and wonderful score make it a masterpiece'
Monica Mason, Barry Wordsworth and Grant Coyle on Kenneth MacMillan's acclaimed ballet.
Royal Ballet Principals Laura Morera, Nehemiah Kish and Edward Watson rehearse Kenneth MacMillan's piece with Monica Mason and notator Grant Coyle.
These expert dancer-actors are as important to the drama as the leading lady.
Monica Mason and John Tooley
Monica Mason by Saied Dai
Bruce Sansom and Monica Mason in The Turn of the Screw, The Royal Ballet
Sir Colin Southgate, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Monica Mason, Golden Jubilee Gala 23 July 2002
Dame Monica Mason in Les Noces (1967)
Dame Monica Mason with Rudolf Nureyev in Hamlet (1964)
Laura Morera, Monica Mason and Zenaida Yanowsky in The Turn of the Screw, The Royal Ballet
Dame Monica Mason
Monica Mason, Laura Morera and Ricardo Cervera backstage during The Turn of the Screw, The Royal Ballet
Monica Mason at the Olivier Awards 2012
David Drew as Laertes, Derek Rencher as King of Denmark, Rudolf Nureyev as Hamlet and Monica Mason as Queen of Denmark in Hamlet (1964)
Monica Mason with Alexander Grant and Georgina Parkinson in La traviata (1965)
David Drew, Monica Mason, David Wall, Jennifer Penney, Anthony Dowell and members of The Royal Ballet during the curtain call for Manon