Breaking: New head of Royal Ballet

Breaking: New head of Royal Ballet


norman lebrecht

June 14, 2011

Monica Mason is retiring this summer and there has been a worldwide search for a successor.

I had a tip-off some months ago that they were going to appoint an insider, and indeed they have.

The new boss is Kevin O’Hare, who has danced and desk-jocked in British ballet all his life.

The press release has just landed. It should be a smooth handover by Monica to a safe pair of hands.


14 JUNE 2011, 10.30AM

Simon RobeyChairman of the Board of Trustees of the Royal Opera House, announced today the appointment of Kevin O’Hare as Director of The Royal Ballet following the retirement ofDame Monica Mason in July 2012. Kevin O’Hare has been Administrative Director of the Company since 2009.

On his appointment Kevin O’Hare said: “This is a great honour for me. Under Monica Mason’s inspired leadership The Royal Ballet has had a great ten years. I am equally ambitious for the Company and dance in general. I plan to bring together the most talented artists of the 21st century to collaborate on the same stage – world class dancers, choreographers, designers, and musicians. I will aim to use all the traditional and new platforms now available to engage our audiences in our classic repertoire, and The Royal Ballet’s unique heritage. I want to continue to invigorate audiences with new work and emerging talents and I am thrilled that Wayne McGregor and Christopher Wheeldon – two of the world’s leading choreographers – have agreed to join me and Jeanetta Laurence, Associate Director to become part of the senior artistic team. Both Wayne and Christopher share my exciting ambitions for the Company. ”

Kevin was trained at The Royal Ballet School, joining Sadlers Wells Royal Ballet in 1984, becoming a Principal with Birmingham Royal Ballet (BRB), as it then became, in 1990.  His repertory included all the leading classical roles and works by Balanchine, Cranko, Van Manen, Tudor and Tharp. He also created many roles, working with Ashton, De Valois, MacMillan, David Bintley, and Peter Wright. He retired from dancing in 2000 to work with the Royal Shakespeare Company, training in Company management.  He returned to BRB in 2001 as Company Manager, and joined The Royal Ballet as Company Manager in 2004, becoming Administrative Director in 2009.  Kevin served on the Board of Governors of the Royal Ballet School 2000 – 2009.

Tony Hall, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House, added, “All of us were impressed by Kevin’s outstanding vision for building on the achievements of the last ten years.  Kevin has a fantastic track record as a dancer, and understands the importance of nurturing dancers at all levels of the Company.  He has championed a range of new choreographic initiatives, and possesses all the skills needed to be a visionary artistic leader and producer. I look forward enormously to working with him in this new role.”

Simon Robey said, “I would like to thank my colleagues on the search committee, Michael Berkeley, David Clementi, Nicholas Hytner, Peter Wright, Tony Hall and Robert Wallace for all their work on what was a rigorous and exhaustive world wide search.  We have seen some outstanding candidates over the past few weeks and it is a pleasure to be able to announce that the right person for this important position has a life long knowledge and first hand experience of the Company and its repertoire, as well as having some great plans for the future.”

Michael Berkeley, Chairman of the Governors of The Royal Ballet also confirmed, “Kevin, like Monica, has made a happy transition from dancer to senior management where he has shone brightly.  His plans build not only on the great heritage of The Royal Ballet but look forward to a new partnership with two of the world’s outstanding choreographers.”




  • Alexander Zilo says:

    Ms. Monica merits great recognition for all her dedication and commitment to the Royal Ballet. Best wishes for a happy retirement.