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One of the principal dancers of the Royal Ballet. He is quite gorgeous, like a curly-haired Apollo, powerful and well-chiselled, in this besmitten noder's opinion, and is the partner of choice of the divine Sylvie Guillem, who is very fussy in her choice of partners. He is tall, which is important for her.

There are some bits of review at http://ballet.co.uk/links/dancers_rb_principals.htm#jonathan_cope, which says he suffered from bad crits in his early career, but is now much better liked by the critics. I'd imagine his regular partnering of Guillem did a lot to lift his profile. He is not flashy (the above link says he's "an unassuming dancer, but can be relied upon to make his partner look her best", and "never over the top and is always a perfect partner"), but he is probably my favourite male star to watch in his own right - except, oh all right, except the pyrotechnic Tetsuya Kumakawa.

He has also been called "such an easy, solid presence on stage" (Jenny Gilbert, The Independent, 15/04/2001, on his Prince in Giselle). Hunting through the reviews indexed by the above website, I keep coming across this sort of solid praise.

There's a 1998 interview with him at http://www.times-archive.co.uk/news/pages/tim/98/07/02/timartdan02002.html?1376249

Cope is near the end of his leading man career, alas, because he's about 38. When he was 27, in 1990, he and his wife, ballerina Maria Almeida, announced their retirement, because of too much work and not enough recognition. (Perhaps they'd been downvoted.) He returned two years later.

On his modesty, he said, "I haven't got one of those egos that demand to be centre stage all of the time. Maybe that's not a good thing in this business, but that's my character."

This of course is a good thing, probably even a necessary thing, when you're partnering Sylvie Guillem most of the time: she's the star, people are there to see her, and he could be part of the scenery she uses, except that you do see him, because they work so well together. When they first came together she, though younger, was already world-famous, and fanatically exacting. She threw an enormous amount of instruction at him for what he had to do. He was of course terrified at the burden. "But just before we did our first performance together, she came up to me in the wings, grabbed my wrist, looked me straight in the eyes and said one word: 'calm'. We've been all right ever since."

He got a CBE in the 2003 New Year Honours.

Originally an E1 write-up, this was expanded August 2001

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