Dame Monica Mason, who is to step down as Director of the Royal Ballet later this year, will be honoured with a Special Award at this week’s Olivier Awards with MasterCard.
The former dancer, who will have been head of the world-renowned dance company for a decade when she leaves the role in July, joins the previously announced Sir Tim Rice as a recipient of the award that recognises an artist’s huge influence on theatre and the arts over the course of their career.
Mason has spent more than 50 years with the Royal Ballet, joining the company as a 16-year-old in 1958 after emigrating from South Africa two years earlier. After her first major role as The Chosen One in Kenneth MacMillan’s 1962 reworking of The Rite Of Spring, MacMillan created a number of roles specifically for Mason before, after two decades with the company, she took on roles behind the scenes.
Moving from Répétiteur to Principal Répétiteur, and from Assistant Director to Acting Director, Mason was named Director of the Royal Ballet in 2002. Since then she has balanced a core repertoire including MacMillan and Frederick Ashton classics with the work of exciting new choreographers including Wayne McGregor, Christopher Wheeldon and Liam Scarlett.
Mason will collect her award at the Olivier Awards with MasterCard on 15 April, held, quite fittingly, at the home of the Royal Ballet, the Royal Opera House. She will be among a stellar audience including nervous nominees, excited presenters and the invited movers and shakers of London theatre.
Theatre fans can get involved in the action by coming down to the free public event in Covent Garden piazza, where West End shows will entertain the crowds before proceedings at the Royal Opera House are shown on big screens.
If you’re not coming to Covent Garden, you can see red carpet arrivals and the ceremony in full via the BBC Red Button or online at olivierawards.com and bbc.com/radio2. Coverage starts at 17:30.