Feature: Recommended by... Jonathan Cope

Friday 9 April 2010

Jonathan Cope **

*Former Royal Ballet principal Jonathan Cope returns to the stage to partner Darcey
Bussell for her Farewell performances at Sadler’s Wells (15-18 May) but he’ll
be on the other side of the curtain for her final appearance at the Royal Opera
House next month.*

*He tells us what makes Darcey the perfect ballerina and which young dancer might
be following in her footsteps at the Royal Ballet, where he continues to work
as company Repititeur.*

Farewell Darcey BussellPhoto: Greg Barratt Darcey is almost the perfect classical ballerina. Her legs and feet are perfectly
formed, proportion-wise everything’s the right length, she’s physically strong
and she also has a beautiful face. God gave her the lot. She’s such an honest
person, there’s no veneer, she’s very true to herself and she gets on with the
job of performing, and I think that honest approach comes across on stage.

I think it’s too soon for her to retire but she has a very full life and ballet’s
a part of it but I think she’ll be perfectly happy with everything else. Physically
she could certainly go on for quite a lot longer, there are so many roles she
could still do very well, but it’s always a very difficult decision for any artist,
to decide when it’s crunch time.

The triple bill, Song of the Earth, Symphonic Variations and Checkmate, is going to include Darcey’s last performance at the Royal Opera House. She’s dancing The Woman in Song of the Earth and it’s my favourite MacMillan ballet, I’ve always loved it. Mahler’s music to the pas de deux is spectacular and it builds such an atmosphere, it
really calls me. The theme of the ballet is death and the possibility of eternal
life and heaven. It’s very poetic. There is a man and a woman and a figure with
a mask, which is death – the idea is the man is gradually being taken over by
death. Gary Avis will be The Man and Carlos Acosta will be Death. The pas de deux is technically very tricky partnering and Gary is a fine, fine
partner so he’ll have no problem with that, and Darcey has done it before, but
I think it’ll be particularly poignant it being her last one.

Lauren Cuthbertson in 'Symphonic Variations'Photo: Dee Conway The bill also includes Symphonic Variations, which is one of my all time favourites, certainly of Ashton’s ballets. It’s almost the perfect classical ballet, a joy every time. I never
actually got to dance it – it wasn’t the sort of thing that would have suited
my style. The style has got to be so pure, so clean and classical. Federico Bonelli, Johan Kobborg and Stephen McRae all have those natural gifts so I think it’ll be great.

I was pleased that Darcey asked me to dance with her at Sadler’s Wells, it’s great to get my hands on her again! The Royal Ballet’s Swan Lake opens with Lauren Cuthbertson and Rupert Pennefather dancing on the same afternoon that we open at Sadler’s Wells in the evening,
so I’ve got a double that day – one watching, one dancing. Lauren has done very,
very well. I think that things are starting to open up for her now and she’s moving
into the ballerina roles, which is what she needs. Because she’s dancing with
Rupert, who is also Royal Ballet trained, they’re very much in sync with each
other and it creates a very elegant, pure, stylish look, real Royal Ballet stuff
and it’s lovely to see. They complement each other very nicely, I’m quite excited
about it.

As I’m here working and seeing ballet four nights a week I don’t get out to see
much else…

Darcey Bussell dances Song of the Earth at the Royal Opera House *2, 6, & 8 June, as well as appearing in Farewell Darcey Bussell at Sadler’s
Wells from 15 – 18 May.*

Lauren Cuthbertson and Rupert Pennefather dance Swan Lake at the Royal Opera House on 15 May and 1 June

Interview by Lyndsey Winship

Posted May 2007

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