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 and became a Principal in 1968, dancing repertory that included classical and dramatic roles. Roles MacMillan created on her included Lescaut’s Mistress (Manon), Calliope Rag (Elite Syncopations), Summer (The Four Seasons) and the Midwife (Rituals). 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.
News and features
27 March 2014
The portrait by Saied Dai reflects Dame Monica's careers as dancer and director.
16 April 2013
Tributes to the former Music Director of The Royal Opera from Dame Monica Mason, Sir John Tooley and others.
6 December 2012
From The Rite of Spring to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, ballet's specially-created roles.
9 October 2012
Annual list celebrates those who have influenced the creative industries over the previous year.
24 July 2012
Book will include original works by Chris Ofili, Conrad Shawcross and Mark Wallinger.
21 July 2012
Retiring Director given traditional flower throw.
Monica Mason by Saied Dai © National Portrait Gallery
Monica Mason and John Tooley © ROH / Neil Gillespie 2014
David Drew, Monica Mason, David Wall, Jennifer Penney, Anthony Dowell and members of The Royal Ballet during the curtain call for Manon © 1981 Royal Opera House Collections / Donald Southern
Sir Colin Southgate, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Monica Mason, Golden Jubilee Gala 23 July 2002 © Rob Moore/ROH 2002
Monica Mason with Alexander Grant and Georgina Parkinson in La traviata (1965) © Donald Southern/ROH 1965
Dame Monica Mason with David Drew, Derek Rencher and Rudolf Nureyev in Hamlet (1964) © Donald Southern/ROH 1964
Dame Monica Mason with Rudolf Nureyev in Hamlet (1964) © Donald Southern/ROH 1964
Dame Monica Mason in Les Noces (1967) © Donald Southern/ROH 1967
Monica Mason at the Olivier Awards 2012
Dame Monica Mason © Johan Persson/ROH 2011