Sarah Lamb – from Boston to Ballet Royalty

By Deborah Searle

Bloch Star and Royal Ballet Principal Sarah Lamb is an inspiration to all. The Royal Ballet is world renowned and the opportunity to see the company perform is a treat, let alone dance in its ranks. After growing up in Boston and becoming a Principal dancer for the Boston Ballet, Sarah moved to London in 2004 to join the Royal Ballet, being promoted to Principal just two years later.

On being a Principal ballerina Sarah says, “The best part of my job is that I love what I do. I dance in many ballets, for many different choreographers and in many different styles.  I love working and rehearsing, and in the end I perform onstage in the leading role. It is the most wonderful position.”

Being a Principal dancer is a dream come true for the talented artist, however it’s not an easy job. “I can rehearse up to seven ballets a day!” she explains.  “A typical day will start with class at 10:30 and I will get in early to stretch and do some exercises.  Rehearsals start at 12. If I am lucky I will do my major ballets first at the beginning of the day when I am fresh. So I have an hour and a half for Swan lake or Sleeping Beauty, then another ballet, and then maybe a break if I am lucky! I have had days without breaks. Those are very, very hard and exhausting, but they happen sometimes.  Rehearsals finish at 6:30 unless there is a performance and then they finish at 5:30 and the performance is at 7:30.”

Royal Ballet Principal dancer Sarah Lamb.

With such a busy and strenuous schedule it can be hard for Sarah to find spare time, but when she does she likes to read and go to the beach. “I don’t have as much time as I would like. I used to draw a lot, but haven’t for a while as I am always sewing shoes if I have some free time,” she shares.  With a flair for drawing, would Sarah have become an illustrator or designer if her career in ballet hadn’t taken off? “I would like to imagine I could be a lawyer for the Southern Poverty Law Center, or ACLU, or the Innocence Project,” she says, which seems so far removed from dance or drawing, but is another interest of hers.

With so many varied interests, what inspired Sarah to become a dancer? “I must just love to move”, she explains. “Whenever I hear music I have an innate need to react to it.” With a natural sense of movement, Sarah was sure to be successful, but natural talent can only take you so far in the ballet world. “I am where I am because I have worked very hard. I believe that this is why I am a principal dancer.” Although she looks like absolute perfection to us as she graces many gorgeous advertising campaigns as a face for Bloch dancewear, Sarah confesses, “I am not naturally physically perfect for ballet (no one is), so I have had to work to achieve what I am today.”

But surely she must have a secret to her success? “I would say contemplation and self-awareness have helped me enormously. You are the only person who can really improve yourself. If you can realize this, constructively critique yourself and analyze your movement and your technique then you can improve all the time.” But self-evaluation isn’t the only thing that will bring you success, she explains. “It is not something that you can achieve just by trying. A lot has to do with the timing, if there is a position available, and if the director sees something in you he/she likes. I cannot say there is one thing or a few things that can guarantee success. Ballet is very difficult, and in order to join a major company a dancer must really think hard about what he/she wants.  Focus, dedication, determination and intelligence make you much more likely to realize your aspirations.”

So has Sarah achieved her career aspirations? “It is very hard [to pick one career highlight],” she says. “Perhaps my debut as Manon last May (2011) with Rupert Pennefather – that was a very special performance for us and it was incredible.” But after having danced so many ballets and roles there are still some works Sarah would love to perform.  “I would love to dance ‘Tatiana’ in Onegin, Giselle, and Chris Wheeldon’s After the Rain pas de deux. I would also love to have a ballet created on me”, she shared. “But above all I just want to continue enjoying what I do.”

For more information about Sarah Lamb and some exquisite photos visit

Photos of Sarah Lamb courtesy of Bloch.

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