Royal Ballet

A compass and an additional fifteen minutes were needed to navigate the warren of offices as I wound my way through the twisting, turning hallways of London’s old Royal Opera House; I followed the sound of a piano as it grew louder. When I finally arrived at the dance studio, slightly out of breath, I felt like the luckiest person in the world. Not more than five feet from me was Darcey Bussell, rehearsing the Don Q pas de deux. Her long expressive legs and arms moved so clearly and with such direct brightness, she looked as American as apple pie. Bussell could sell tickets, but it seemed Frederick Ashton’s witty “Cinderella” could not. I devised a look-alike costume competition for neighborhood children at the Barnes & Noble across the street from Lincoln Center, where Lynn Benjamin, who was one of the Cinderella’s, read the story to the neighborhood children decked out in frothy dresses, glittering tiaras and jeweled scepters. We’d made flyers and disseminated them to all the local apartment buildings. A pair of six-year-old twins from my own apartment building surprised me at the event, Kyle dressed as the Prince and Audrey, as Cinderella. They captured the prize: a pair of tickets to the Saturday matinee, and a chance to go back stage. Finally, and perhaps most significantly, the season included the New York choreographic debut of Christopher Wheeldon. He was then 24 years old.

Country: UK

Years: 1997

Art form: Dance

royal ballet