Dame Monica Mason, The Royal Ballet's former artistic director, has likely stood before a corps of white-tutu−clad dancers thousands of times. In this Giselle clip from a Bavarian State Ballet performance filmed in 1979, she leads the wilis not as their director, but as their queen. Though Mason is a natural Myrta, she offsets her undeniably commanding stage presence with softness. Shaping air with the fullness of her arms, swirling weightlessly in a torrent of tulle, Mason is the perfect reigning figure of her ghostly realm. (And a shout out to the corps and soloist dancers' solid variations and pattern work!)
Mason directed The Royal from 2002−2012, but she's been a figure in English ballet since 1958, when she received her company contract at 16 years old. From originating roles in Kenneth MacMillan's ballets as a dancer to commissioning new choreographers as director (the name Wayne McGregor ring a bell?), Mason has helped shepherd The Royal into the contemporary era. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!