Interview with Royal Ballet Principal Dancer Sarah Lamb


Born in Boston Massachusetts, Sarah Lamb joined the Boston Ballet 1998 where she quickly rose to the rank of Principal dancer. In 2004 she left her hometown and The Boston Ballet to dance in London where she attained Principal Dancer status with The Royal Ballet in 2006. Sarah has danced a wide range of classical and neo classical repertoire and has had numerous roles created on her by choreographers such as Wayne McGregor, David Dawson and Christopher Wheeldon.

Sarah Lamb in the studio wearing Yumiko JESSICA in N-Dusty Rose

Sarah Lamb in the studio wearing Yumiko style JESSICA in N-Dusty Rose

What are you working on at The Royal Ballet right now?

I'm working on Mayerling. It's wonderful to do two roles in this ballet. I have performed the role of Marie Larisch before, but this is my first time performing Mary Vetsera. 

How did your training in Boston prepare you for an international career?

I had a wonderful coach, teacher and mentor, Tatiana Nicolaevna Legat. She instilled in me a work-ethic and a critical eye that has made me always strive to improve. 

What gives you inspiration?

I'm inspired by innumerable and diverse stories and ideas. I can learn so much from other artists as well as people who have fought or continue to fight for human rights or democratic ideals.  I don't feel that inspiration is limited to the artistic world. 

Sarah Lamb and Steven McRae in Mayerling
Sarah Lamb and Steven McRae in Mayerling
photo by N. Norrington

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?

Injury is the biggest challenge. Almost every dancer has to face this at some point and it is the hardest part of our form of art. 

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

I think at this point in my life it would be London. I feel London has become my home, I've recently bought a flat, I really feel this is where I belong.

If you hadn’t become a dancer, what do you imagine you would be doing?

I was always competitive so part of me thinks I would be doing some type of sport or climbing Everest. Another part of me imagines a career in law arguing before the Supreme Court or some other discipline that requires oration and persuasion.

What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?

That I know all the lyrics to quite a few Monty Python songs.

Sarah Lamb as Odette in Swan Lake
Sarah Lamb as Odette in Swan Lake

You’ve recently danced in David Dawson’s The Human seasons with costumes designed by Yumiko Takeshima. How would you compare wearing Yumiko leotards in the studio vs. wearing a costume designed by Yumiko Takeshima on stage?

I really loved the costume for Human Seasons. I also loved the costumes for The Grey Area which was the first time I ever wore a Yumiko creation, and I think it was one of Yumiko's first designs... Any time Yumiko Takeshima makes a costume it is tailor-made for you so there's that ability to really work with the design to show yourself in the best possible way. What I think makes Yumiko's creations unique is her understanding of what it really is to be a ballerina and move - no one else has that invaluable knowledge! 

What is most important to you when purchasing dancewear? What do you look for in a dancewear brand?

I don't purchase that much anymore. Mostly I look for practicality and style. I won't consider anything if it isn't a style that I know I will wear often.

How do you personalize your dancewear to give it your own signature look?  What are your favorite colors and styles to wear while rehearsing?

I wear a lot of long-sleeves now, I'm not sure why, maybe it's just a thing I have about covering my arms! I often wear light colors, but not always, I'm always impartial to blue... I used to really like shiny materials but I realized it's harder for my partners when I wear something slippery so I don't do that anymore.

Sarah Lamb and Steven McRae in David Dawson’s The Human Seasons Photograph by Dave Morgan
Sarah Lamb and Steven McRae in David Dawson's The Human Seasons
Photograph by Dave Morgan

What advice would you give to a young dancer who wants to make their passion their career?

I would say to really think about your future - ballet isn't for everyone and you need to be sure that this is what you want. It isn't always about hard work and dedication- there is an element of luck in being in the right place at the right time. Be aware of this and don't get discouraged or dejected by disappointment. Keep your confidence - that is yours and yours alone, defend it and display it onstage, it will make you shine. 

 Sarah Lamb photographed for The Language of the Soul - Photograph by Rick Guest
Sarah Lamb photographed for The Language of the Soul
Photograph by Rick Guest