Star ballerina in sparkling form
Whenever children ask dancer Sarah Lamb for an autograph, she always obliges.
“I know how much it means to them,” said the 37-year-old Royal Ballet principal known for roles such as the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker.
She remembers being 11 and waiting outside the stage door of famed choreographer Twyla Tharp and legendary dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov.
“They performed at the Wang Centre near my home in Boston,” she said.
“I wasn’t normally one for autographs but I did it for them.
“I can remember running down the street after Baryshnikov. I think he stopped and signed his autograph because I was so young. I didn’t frame the autograph, but I kept it for a long time.”
These days she does not have to wait outside dressing room doors. Ms Lamb just finished dancing in the premier of Ms Tharp’s An Illustrated Farewell at the Royal Opera House in London.
“She created this ballet for my partner and me,” said Ms Lamb.
“It was an incredible experience.”
Ms Lamb is in Bermuda today for a showing of the Royal Ballet’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute.
She played Alice in the production. After the film she will be doing a question-and-answer session.
The event is a fundraiser to help 13-year-old Bermudian dancer Ravi Cannonier-Watson with Royal Ballet School fees.
Her advice to dancers like Ravi is “focus on your goals”.
“Focus on how you can make yourself better,” she said. “Sometimes there is a lot of comparison with other people, but really the only person you ever compete against is yourself. That is the only thing over which you have control.”
Ms Lamb started ballet lessons at the age of five with her two sisters. She is the only one in the family who became a dancer.
“Both my parents are schoolteachers,” she said. “And both my sisters also became teachers.”
Ms Lamb was not the type of child to dream of one day dancing a particular role.
“I just always wanted to excel,” she said.
At 13, she started taking lessons with Tatiana Legat at the Boston Ballet School. In 1998, she was named a Presidential Scholar in the Arts.
She joined the Boston Ballet that same year, was promoted to soloist in 2001 and principal in 2003.
Then, at 23, she left it all behind to move to London.
“It was a gamble, but I had to take that risk,” she said. “A life lived in fear is a life half lived.”
The gamble paid off. In 2004 she was accepted as a first soloist at the Royal Ballet and a year and a half later became a principal.
Her connection with Bermuda started when she met local ballet teacher Patricia Deane Grey, through her old teacher Madame Legat.
“She and my teacher came to London to see me perform Swan Lake at the Royal Opera House,” Ms Lamb said.
She performed in Bermuda in February 2005 with a group of other dancers.
“When I arrived here on Thursday evening from London, it was wonderful to step off the plane into beautiful clean air,” she said. “It is really incredibly beautiful here so I am just enjoying being outside after living in London.”
The Royal Ballet’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland will be showing at the BUEI today, at 3pm and at 7pm.
Tickets are $20 for BUEI members, $25 for non-members and $10 for students, available from the BUEI Ocean’s Gift Shop or by calling 294-0204.
There will also be a showing of The Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker on December 17 at 3pm. Tickets are on sale at BUEI.