Edward Watson, principal dancer with the Royal Ballet and now ex-colleague of Sergei Polunin (the dancer who walked), and who may not be an artist (according to Ivan Petrov, another ex-colleague, in his extraordinary statement yesterday to the BBC) yet, according to today's Times,
“Watson's performances are sparked by an extraordinary physical presence (pound for pound, stronger than a rhino, once proclaimed an Opera House marketing campaign with him on the poster) and a fierce dramatic conviction that make him utterly compelling on stage. Not for him a diet of bland Princes — he's enjoying a career that embraces everything from tortured romantic hero and blazing modernist to Kafka's giant insect. For him it's obviously a splendid time to be a male dancer.”
Watson's reasons for not walking?
I have stayed here for 17 years, because there is more going on here than anywhere else. Lots of new stuff is being made all the time and if I'm not needed in Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake I can work with other choreographers… Often I think that I have the best of both worlds. I'm involved in some great ballets here, but I can also go out and do some great ballets elsewhere. In fact, I'm having a better time now than when I was younger.
You grow up in ballet knowing that it's an art form based on what other people think of you, you can't plan or control your own career. When you join a big company you know what the rules are. You really have to want to do this job; you can't do it half-hearted. It's not nine to five, you are not sitting behind a desk and you won't get paid a whole load of cash.
But you are lucky to get paid to do it, because it's your passion and you have trained for years and years just for this. And yes, male dancers are becoming as well known as their female counterparts, if we are known at all. We're not celebrities after all.
Photo by © Johan Persson
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.