Scottish Ballet principal Bethany Kingsley-Garner – 'I have the happiest memories of being on the Royal Opera House stage'

Interview: Scottish Ballet principal Bethany Kingsley-Garner

Bethany Kingsley Garner as the Fiancée in The Fairy's Kiss / credit: Andy Ross

The last time she performed on the Royal Opera House stage, Bethany Kingsley-Garner was a new graduate waiting for her career to start. Ten years later, she's returning to that hallowed theatre as a principal with Scottish Ballet

'I feel emotional just talking about it,' says Bethany Kingsley-Garner, when asked about Scottish Ballet's upcoming performance at the Royal Opera House. 'But I think "proud" is probably the first word that comes to mind – and it's not for myself as much as feeling proud to be there with a company that I feel so passionate about. I wouldn't want to be sharing the stage with anyone else.'

It's the first time in Scottish Ballet's 60-year history that the company will play the Covent Garden venue, but for Kingsley-Garner, it's a kind of home-coming. Trained at the Royal Ballet School, she regularly appeared at the Opera House from the age of 11 onwards, playing small roles in Swan Lake and The Nutcracker alongside former Royal Ballet principal Darcey Bussell.

Then, in 2007, Kingsley-Garner and her graduating class danced their final steps there as students. And when she returns to the Opera House this month for Kenneth MacMillan: A National Celebration, performed by companies from across the UK, she'll see a lot of familiar – albeit slightly more grown-up faces – backstage.

'From my year at the Royal Ballet School I'll see Claire Calvert who's in the Royal Ballet, Yvette Knight from Birmingham Royal Ballet, Antoinette Brooks-Daw from Northern Ballet, and others who were in the year above and below me,' says Kingsley-Garner. 'It's going to be so nice to be with everyone again – and in that theatre. I have the happiest memories of being on the Royal Opera House stage. I can still remember looking up at the spotlight during our graduation performance, and thinking I'm about to start my life in Scotland now, which was huge.'

As part of Kenneth MacMillan: A National Celebration, Kingsley-Garner will perform the role of the fiancée in the late choreographer's 1960 work, Le Baiser de la Fée (The Fairy's Kiss). Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's fairytale, The Ice Maiden, the piece has been lovingly re-staged by Scottish Ballet, including a new set.

For Kingsley-Garner, performing a work by Sir Kenneth MacMillan (artistic director of the Royal Ballet from 1970–77, and principal choreographer there until his death in 1992) is the perfect fit.

'Kenneth MacMillan's work is imbedded in your DNA as a pupil at the Royal Ballet School,' she says, 'and that's still how I feel. His movement is something which comes very naturally to me, and I feel so blessed that it's his work that we're performing at the Royal Opera House.

'He was definitely an icon when I was growing up – and to perform his work, in London or anywhere, is lovely and something that I can tick off the bucket list.'

Concerto/Le Baiser De La Fee/Elite Syncopations

Dancers from the UK’s five leading ballet companies perform two of MacMillan’s sunniest works alongside a new production of his dark, classical fairytale. Birmingham Royal Ballet performs Concerto, Scottish Ballet performs Le Baiser de la fée and Birmingham Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Northern Ballet, The…

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