Lauren was born in Devon in 1984. As a child, ballet was for Lauren what it is for many youngsters – something fun and followed by Brownies one evening a week. She was initially taken along to both ballet and gymnastics, aged 3, to tame her spirited nature before starting at school; and although she loved her classes, it was only later that ballet became a serious hobby. From 1987 to 1995, Lauren was taught by Pamela de Waal and Corrine Coremi; and in 1992 she joined the Royal Ballet School’s Junior Associate (JA) Programme as a monthly student. Whilst she found JA’s a brilliant foundation for her later training, the discipline was rather challenging to her energetic ways.

In 1995, aged 10, Lauren joined her older brother, Arron, at White Lodge, The Royal Ballet Lower School. Having seen pictures of ‘baby ballerinas’ in old dance magazines, Lauren naively believed she would be a principal dancer by the age of 15 and it was only in her second year, having performed as a Little Swan in Swan Lake with the Royal Ballet, that she realized just how unrealistic this was and how hard she would have to work if she ever wanted to become a principal. From then on she became self-disciplined, driven and 100% focused on her goal. In her final year at White Lodge, Lauren was awarded the Lynn Seymour Prize (for expressive dance), was joint winner of the Phyllis Beddell Prize and came second in Young British Dancer of the Year competition. She then went on to win the Young British Dancer of the Year and also the Silver Medal at the Adeline Genée Awards in her first year at the Royal Ballet Upper School. At the end of this year she was invited to perform at an RAD gala in Japan, and upon her return she found herself thrown in at the deep end with the third years, skipping the second year entirely. It was during a tour with these third years in 2002 that Lauren discovered she had been offered not one contract but two: a soloist contract with Birmingham Royal Ballet and a corps de ballet contract with The Royal Ballet.

Characteristically Lauren chose the latter, preferring to start at the bottom and work her way up. During her first year she created roles in Christopher Wheeldon’s Tryst and Cathy Marston’s Between Shadows. She also covered a soloist role in Tryst and found herself performing this on the company’s Australian tour after Jamie Tapper sustained an injury. She was given just half an hour to learn an entire section of choreography before curtain-up, yet, as with most challenging experiences, Lauren found this chance performance invaluable.

Her first big opportunity with the company came in 2003 when she was asked to dance Juliet in Sir Kenneth Macmillan’s Romeo and Juliet. Her performances were exceptionally well received and this same year she was promoted to soloist. In her five-years as a soloist (she was promoted to First Soloist in 2006) Lauren debuted as Aurora, Gamzatti, Odette-Odile and The Sugar Plum Fairy. She also trained for The Varna International Ballet Competition under the guidance of her mentor, Anatole Grigoriev. Unfortunately Grigoriev died before seeing Lauren all the way to the competition, yet when Lauren won the silver medal in 2006 (the highest female accolade awarded that year) she dedicated her award to him. She feels she owes him much for his unwavering belief in her ability.

In 2008 Lauren was awarded principal status with the company after a critically acclaimed performance of Romeo and Juliet. She is now relishing every role thrown her way and thriving on the diversity of styles. Recent favourites include Nikiya in La Bayadère, Giselle, Wayne McGregor’s Infra, ‘M’ in Mats Ek’s Carmen and Balanchine’s Serenade. She is enjoying sharing a dressing room close to the stage with two other principal women and is very much looking forward to making many more debuts and creations as well as revisiting well loved roles. Outside of work Lauren’s key priority is recuperating from her busy schedule, but beyond that she loves film, fashion, theatre and visiting the many exhibitions and markets that London has to offer. She is also involved with many projects for young dancers, including London Children’s Ballet and is passionate about pushing ballet into the 21st century. Having won a ‘Women of the Future Award’ in 2007, Lauren is proving herself to be just that.

Sarah Wilkinson

Lauren Cuthbertson portrait001

Lauren Cuthbertson portrait

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