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Sarah Wildor (short like will) is one of the loveliest of younger English ballerinas. I was going to say newer, but she's been around longer than I realised: born in Eastwood in Essex in 1972, she joined the Royal Ballet in 1991, and was promoted to Principal in 1999.

That was under the directorship of Anthony Dowell. Then the Australian Ross Stretton took over the Royal Ballet, and his brief stint is generally regarded as a disaster. He drove away a number of their best talents, not just Sarah Wildor in 2001 but also some who had survived the earlier defection of Tetsuya Kumakawa and others, and sapped the morale of those remaining. Luckily he's now been replaced as director by Monica Mason, but the damage is done, and Sarah Wildor is freelance.

She has a strikingly beautiful face, elfin but strong, and willowy limbs. She was faster to pick up the exotic, advanced style brought in by Sylvie Guillem than her staider compatriot Darcey Bussell had been, and she was doing some very original movements. I haven't seen her since she left the company, so I don't know what she's like now. I miss her. A recent role was in the West End musical Contact, as the abused wife (the Karen Ziemba role on Broadway): reviews all speak of her as very funny and charming in it, and she was nominated for an Olivier Award.

Particularly associated with the clever roles chorographed by Frederick Ashton, she is also very sexy when it is required, in Macmillan's passionate ballets, and an adorable Juliet. However, though not exactly typecast, the restriction to certain images or roles was one of the factors in her decision to leave; and Ross Stretton's schedule didn't give her much to do. She wants to concentrate on the dramatic more than merely dancing.

She is married to Adam Cooper, himself one of the bright stars of the Royal Ballet when they met. He had left the company a little earlier, to be associated with Adventures in Motion Pictures, the company that had put on an all-male Swan Lake. They have done some projects together since, including AMP's Cinderella. Their next one is Rodgers and Hart's On Your Toes (August 2003 at the Royal Festival Hall).

Pretty as a picture: http://www.ballerinagallery.com/wildor.htm
Contact reviews: http://www.ballet.co.uk/cgi/reviews_database_search/db_search.cgi?company_names=Contact
Did she jump or was she pushed? http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2002/03/29/btwild29.xml
On Your Toes: theatre pages of The Independent, 31 July 2003

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