Versatile Brilliance: The Royal Ballet's Sarah Lamb Loves Dostoyevsky and the BBC

April 2, 2015

This story originally appeared in the April/May 2015 issue of
Pointe.

What qualities do you admire most in other dancers?

When you watch someone and have absolutely no worries. Even if something terrible happens, you know they’re going to get out of it, in the best way imaginable. You really trust them. I would love to have that.

What would you say is the stamp of your dancing?

I’d say being a chameleon is my trademark—being able to go from Chroma to Manon or Rubies. I think being able to change is something to be proud of. I try to make myself fit each ballet, to really show the specific repertoire as it should be, to its fullest.

Sarah Lamb in “Don Quixote.” Photo by Bill Cooper, Courtesy ROH.

You’ve been a muse for Wayne McGregor. Do you find freedom or pressure in creating new roles?

No pressure at all. It’s like a gift; it’s really personal. What I find difficult is seeing someone else doing my part. When we first started working, we didn’t know that Chroma would be franchised out to so many companies. It’s almost like you own it, it’s your little child, and someone has rented it for a sleepover.

Have you had a worst nightmare onstage?

In MacMillan’s Prince of the Pagodas, I had a blindfold on, and it was so tight that when it was taken off one of my contact lenses flipped out. I had to do the last part unable to see anything, and that was a challenge!

You’re a union representative at The Royal. What made you want to get involved?

I believe in unions. Dancers are young, so they’re a difficult group to represent because there’s a culture of always saying yes. But I think it’s important to find the best scenario for each dancer, because it’s such a short career.

Sarah Lamb in “Rubies.” Photo by Bill Cooper, Courtesy ROH.


What would you take with you to a desert island?

If I had a solar battery, I would take a radio so I could listen to the BBC. It’s very British of me, but I’m a huge fan. If someone followed my radio-listening habits, they’d think I was 87!

You love literature. What are some of your favorite books?

I read mostly for my own interests outside of dance. The Brothers Karamazov made a big impression on me the first time I read it, but I also like William Faulkner, a lot of James Joyce, and contemporary books such as Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch.

Do you have a specialty in the kitchen?

Turning on the kettle! And staying out of it so my husband can cook.