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 Post subject: Appointment of Monica Mason as Director of the Royal Bal
PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2002 11:05 am 
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PRESS RELEASE

18 December 2002

ROYAL OPERA HOUSE ANNOUNCES APPOINTMENT OF

MONICA MASON

AS DIRECTOR OF THE ROYAL BALLET

Sir Colin Southgate, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Royal Opera House, announced today the appointment of Monica Mason as the Director of The Royal Ballet with immediate effect. Since the departure of Ross Stretton, in September 2002, she has been Acting Director for the Company.

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Monica Mason came to England at the age of 14, training at the Nesta Brooking School of Ballet and the Royal Ballet School. She joined The Royal Ballet in 1958 when she was only 16, the youngest member of the Company at that time. After a brief period in the corps de ballet, she was selected by Kenneth MacMillan to create the demanding role of the Chosen Maiden in The Rite of Spring, which was premiered in 1962. One year later she was appointed Soloist. She became a Principal in 1968.

Her repertory included purely classical roles including Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, the title role in
Giselle, the Prelude and Mazurka in Les Sylphides and the leading role in Raymonda Act III as well as dramatic parts such as the Hostess in Les Biches and the Black Queen in Checkmate. In 1974 and 1975 Kenneth MacMillan created four roles for her: Lescaut's Mistress in Manon, Calliope Rag in Elite Syncopations, Summer in The Four Seasons and the Midwife in Rituals.


A highly praised interpreter of the leading roles in MacMillan's Song of the Earth, Nijinska's Les Noces and Nureyev's `Kingdom of the Shades scene from La Bayadère, she was in the first performances by The Royal Ballet of Hans van Manen's Adagio Hammerklavier, Jerome Robbins' Dances at a Gathering and In the Night, Balanchine's Liebeslieder Walzer and Tudor's Dark Elegies. Other major roles have included the Lilac Fairy in The Sleeping Beauty, Empress Elisabeth and Mitzi Caspar in MacMillan's Mayerling; the title role in The Firebird; Variation I in Frederick Ashton's Birthday Offering, the Fairy Godmother and Winter Fairy in Cinderella and Lady Elgar in Enigma Variations; and the Queen of Denmark in Helpmann's Hamlet. In 1980 she created a leading role in David Bintley's Adieu, and, in 1981, Nursey in Kenneth MacMillan's Isadora. After she stopped dancing ballerina roles, she continued to appear regularly in mime roles such as Carabosse in The Sleeping Beauty and Lady Capulet in MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet and she recently created the role of Mrs Grose in William Tuckett's The Turn of the Screw.

In 1980 Monica Mason was appointed Répétiteur to Kenneth MacMillan followed in 1984 by her appointment as Principal Répétiteur to The Royal Ballet. In January 1991, after a four year period of assisting Anthony Dowell, she became Assistant Director.

In July 1996, under the auspices of Roehampton Institute London, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Surrey. She was created an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2002 New Year Honours List.

Commenting on the appointment, Sir Colin Southgate said, "The Board is delighted that Monica Mason has agreed to take up the reins as Director of The Royal Ballet. She has already impressed us with the swiftness with which she restored calm to the Company and the changes that she has introduced to the repertory this season. I personally look forward to her exciting plans
for the future."

Tony Hall, Executive Director of the Royal Opera House, added, "I am delighted with Monica Mason's appointment as Director of The Royal Ballet. She has made an enormous contribution to the Company as a dancer, a coach and in particular through her work as custodian of the Kenneth MacMillan repertory. With such extensive knowledge and experience of the Company, she is perfectly placed to take The Royal Ballet through the next period of its history until the summer of 2007. I am thrilled to be working with Monica"

Monica Mason said, "I am deeply honoured to be appointed Director of this great Company. Over the last three months I have been overwhelmed by the support given to me by everybody at the Royal Opera House and the dance community at large. I am very excited at the prospect of leading the Company over the next four and a half years, during which we will celebrate the Company's 75th Birthday."

****************

The press release is also on the ROH website


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 Post subject: Re: Appointment of Monica Mason as Director of the Royal Bal
PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2002 1:13 pm 
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From what I hear, this is good news. What say all you?


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 Post subject: Re: Appointment of Monica Mason as Director of the Royal Bal
PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2002 1:57 pm 
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This is great news. Her biography is amazing!!

DH


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 Post subject: Re: Appointment of Monica Mason as Director of the Royal Bal
PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2002 2:03 pm 
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FINALLY!!!!!!


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 Post subject: Re: Appointment of Monica Mason as Director of the Royal Bal
PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2002 3:39 pm 
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Sounds like she has definitly paid her dues with that company. I always think it is better to promote from the inside of an organization than to bring in some stranger. With the Royal's last experience with an "outsider", I think it was wise to choose another way.


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 Post subject: Re: Appointment of Monica Mason as Director of the Royal Bal
PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2002 4:09 pm 
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This seems to me like very good news, indeed!


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 Post subject: Re: Appointment of Monica Mason as Director of the Royal Bal
PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2002 6:56 pm 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
I'm delighted that Monica Mason has been made Artistic Director. Her merits include:

- She is highly regarded by everyone in the UK dance world and beyond.
- She is steeped in the traditions of the Company.
- She is an excellent champion of and speaker about dance.
- One dancer I interviewed described how much support she had received from MM when she first joined the Company, straight from school in Italy. MM has also had responsibility for dancers returning from injury. I remember her cutting short a lecture demonstration when a dancer became tired after a day of rehearsals - the dancer came first.
- She is also tough and leads from the front. Recently when an injury necessitated major changes to the cast on a particular evening, it was Monica Mason who stepped out onto the stage to explain the changes and take the disappointment of the audience. I'm sure she will fight the corner of the RB in the ROH structure at least as strongly as her two predecessors.

The only question mark in my mind, which i hope to erase over the coming year, is her approach to new work for the RB. Although I fully support her right to change the programme for this year, I have to say that the original from Stretton looked more interesting to this fan.

<small>[ 12-18-2002, 20:00: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Appointment of Monica Mason as Director of the Royal Bal
PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2002 7:07 pm 
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Now that is an interesting point. From afar, that decision looked to me like a certain overly important widow looking over the shoulder of a temp. dir. who wasn't secure enough to say no. I suppose when next season's announcement are made we will see the true Mason. I hope.


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 Post subject: Re: Appointment of Monica Mason as Director of the Royal Bal
PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2002 2:46 am 
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Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
Article in The Guardian.

Quote:
The Royal Ballet yesterday ended the speculation over its leadership by appointing Monica Mason, who has nursed it through one of the worst crises in its history, as its new director.
Mason, 60, who is known affectionately at Covent Garden as "Mon", has been a mother and something of an inspiration to a battered company since taking the reins temporarily after the ignominious departure of Ross Stretton. The Australian former car mechanic was forced to resign two months ago amid allegations of inappropriate relationships with some of his dancers.

MORE

And in The Independent.

Quote:
The woman who has been calming dancers' nerves and tempers since the surprise departure of the Royal Ballet's director, Ross Stretton, was formally appointed as his successor yesterday.

Monica Mason, an old hand at the Royal Opera House, and the hot favourite to be confirmed in the post, has been asked by the board to take permanent charge immediately.

MORE

<small>[ 12-19-2002, 04:04: Message edited by: Joanne ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Appointment of Monica Mason as Director of the Royal Bal
PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2002 5:28 am 
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<img src="http://news.bbc.co.uk/media/images/38606000/jpg/_38606009_mason_300.jpg" alt="" />

Royal Ballet appoints head from within
from the BBC website


The UK's prestigious Royal Ballet has promoted its former assistant director, Monica Mason, to the post of director following the resignation of controversial boss Ross Stretton.
Ms Mason has had a long association with the company since becoming its youngest dancer when she joined aged 16 in 1958.

Ms Mason will be seen as a safe choice who is known and liked by those within the company.

click for more


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 Post subject: Re: Appointment of Monica Mason as Director of the Royal Bal
PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2002 8:34 am 
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Royal Ballet director Mason criticises 'outsider' Stretton
by Jeremy Austin for The Stage

New Royal Ballet director Monica Mason has publicly criticised the appointment of her predecessor and former chief Ross Stretton, claiming the 'outsider' risked losing the company's identity.

Attacking the unpopular Stretton, who stood down in September after becoming deeply disliked by the company's performers, Mason said the organisation needed the sort of continuity that her 44 years of service could bring.

"I think it is known what Ross Stretton wanted to bring to the Royal Ballet and his notion of filling it with fresh work but I think what happened to be at risk was losing our identity and losing what it is that makes the Royal Ballet particular," she said.

click for more


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 Post subject: Re: Appointment of Monica Mason as Director of the Royal Bal
PostPosted: Mon Dec 30, 2002 8:18 am 
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Poor Stretton. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the situation, he was charged by the Board of the Royal Opera House to modernise. I am surprised that Monica Mason publicly "attacked" Stretton.


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 Post subject: Re: Appointment of Monica Mason as Director of the Royal Bal
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2003 2:21 pm 
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The Evening Standard has an interview today between Norman Lebrecht and Monica Mason. Brendan McCarthy on ballet.co has cleverly found the article on another site and I thank him for this detective work.

Overall Mason shows much solidarity with Stretton and describes how she liked him and their agreement over dancer auditions. Points of difference were the MacMillan one-act rep and a celebration of Nureyev in the 10th Anniversary of his death.

Good to hear her supporting the work of Kylian and Ek.

At one point the text refers to a choreographer "William Stretton", which should be "William Tuckett".

Well worth a read.

Monica Mason - I like the idea of risk
By Norman Lebrecht / La Scena Musicale

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Monica Mason, custodian of the Royal Ballet's traditions, was initially seen as a stop-gap chief. But she may be more adventurous than first appeared.

When Monica Mason was confirmed as head of the Royal Ballet just before Christmas her room filled so thick with flowers that, weeks later, the fragrance still lingers. Hers was a hugely popular internal appointment, a healing unguent after the rough and ready rule of the Australian Ross Stretton who lasted less than a year, leaving abruptly last September.

Mason is a loyalist who has given her life to the Royal. South African born, she joined at 17 from the Royal Ballet School and lurked for years as an exquisite soloist in the shadow of Margot Fonteyn, who did not retire until she reached 60. By this time, Mason was ready to hang up her pumps. She became assistant to the company's director, Norman Morrice, and continued to serve his successors, Kenneth MacMillan, Anthony Dowell and the ill-fated Stretton. She was not cut out, she says, for anything higher.

click for more


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 Post subject: Re: Appointment of Monica Mason as Director of the Royal Bal
PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2004 2:25 am 
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Appraisal of Mason's first year at the top from The FT.

Quote:
It is 15 months sinceMonica Mason was thrust into the role of artistic director of the Royal Ballet after the sudden departure of Ross Stretton.


Not surprisingly, perhaps, after Stretton's controversial year at the helm, her appointment was greeted with relief by the company.

MORE


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 Post subject: Re: Appointment of Monica Mason as Director of the Royal Bal
PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2004 3:17 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Alistair Macaulay's interview is a good read, but it would have been even more interesting IMHO to spend less time down Memory Lane and rather tease out Monica Mason's vision for the Company.

Thereis no doubt that Mason is a VERY popular Director of the company with audiences, dancers and critics. I'm a fan too and her new commissions programme in December showed that she can be an innovator as well.

<small>[ 20 January 2004, 04:18 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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