DEBORAH WEISS meets The Royal Ballet’s senior Benesh notator

Photographer: Emma Kauldhar Dance Europe no. 185, June 2014

Photographer: Emma Kauldhar
Dance Europe no. 185, June 2014

Are choreologists the unsung heroes of the dance world?

Of course! Yes, is the answer – a definite yes! We’re a hidden-in-the-wings backbone, specially here in this building, where it all begun. We do a lot of the nitty-gritty work, the hard stuff that no one else wants to do, then we hand it over to the ballet masters to do all the lovely embellishments afterwards – you know, the fun bits!

What drew you to choreology rather than a professional dance career?

It was a combination of several things. I was first introduced to Benesh at a summer school when I was about twelve. I went to the Yorkshire Seminars. Someone did an introduction to Benesh Notation, which I took part in and found very interesting. Then, when I was at Central School of Ballet, I did an ‘A’ level in dance and I did Benesh as part of that. It occurred to me that it was something that I enjoyed doing, so when I was in my final year of training and also in my Mum’s ballet school, putting on shows and realising I actually enjoyed being out front and coordinating the dancers, the music, the lighting – the different parts of the theatre – I thought it was really exciting bringing it all together. And you never quite know until the show actually happens if it’s going to be a success or not! You get that adrenaline moment, which I always really enjoyed. Normally people come to Benesh later in their career but I just thought, why not do it now.

Didn’t you feel tempted to try and work as a professional dancer?

I did, of course, however, I wouldn’t have been able to make it into the company that I wanted to make it into and I wasn’t willing to content myself with something less! I know I wouldn’t have been able to be a performer here, but I’ve ended up working here – it’s been an amazing opportunity, which I wouldn’t even have dreamt of originally.

It’s a rare skill and you are much in demand. Tell me about the pressure.

Well, it’s a very complex job – somehow you are like a pivotal point, without actually being a pivotal point. The ballet world would still revolve even if we weren’t there, but we help a lot. We’re like a lynch pin holding it all together, but in a loose, funny way. You’re always in between people, you and your little pencil and rubber and your piece of paper. In between the dancers, the choreographers, ballet staff, management, ballet stage management, lighting cues and music staff, obviously. So you’re trying to coordinate all those different bits without taking over. Depending on your involvement in the project, you have to have enough psychology and common sense to know when and where you’re most needed and where you can help most. It depends tremendously on what you’re doing. If you’re writing a ballet, the demands are hugely different from putting on a ballet.


Read the complete interview in Dance Europe no. 185, June 2014

And this is the link:



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