BRB's O'Hare awarded Royal Ballet Gold Medal

Published: 3 November 2019
Reporter: Vera Liber

BRB's Michael O'Hare receives The Royal Ballet Governor's Gold Medal on the set of Giselle at Sadler's Wells Credit: Ty Singleton
BRB's Michael O'Hare receives The Royal Ballet Governor's Gold Medal on the set of Giselle at Sadler's Wells Credit: Ty Singleton

The governors of the Royal Ballet companies have awarded this year's gold medal for an individual who has demonstrated an outstanding contribution to ballet to Birmingham Royal Ballet Acting Assistant Director and Senior Ballet Master Michael O’Hare.

BRB dancers and orchestra members joined the governors of the Royal Ballet companies and Chair Dame Jenny Abramsky alongside O’Hare’s family on stage prior to the opening night of Giselle at Sadler’s Wells on Friday 1 November for a surprise presentation of the award.

Abramsky said, "The Royal Ballet governors want to recognise the amazing contribution that Michael has made to BRB both as a dancer and then as a teacher. His commitment to the company and his support of numerous dancers has helped ensure that Birmingham Royal Ballet is one of the great ballet companies of the world. The gold medal is given annually to someone who has made a unique contribution to the Royal Ballet companies. Michael has done just that."

Acting Director of BRB Marion Tait said, "I have known and worked with Michael for 38 years (from his very first days performing with SWRB). Throughout his outstanding career, as dancer, teacher, repetiteur and 'rehearsal scheduler', I have never known Michael give less than 200% to everything he does—and that means 200% of commitment, care and love for the ballets in our repertoire and our dancers. Only the other day I quipped, 'Michael, you deserve a medal' and now he has one! There is no one more deserving than he."

Born in Hull, O’Hare, trained with Louise Browne before joining the Royal Ballet School. He joined Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet in 1980, became Principal in 1987 and relocated to Birmingham in 1990. He danced leading classical and character roles and was the first person to perform all three principal male roles in La Fille mal gardée. He has created roles in a number of David Bintley’s ballets, including Hobson’s Choice (Will Mossop), Far from the Madding Crowd (Gabriel Oak), Sylvia (Eros), The Nutcracker Sweeties (Buttons), Flowers of the Forest, Brahms Handel Variations, Choros, The Snow Queen and Carmina burana.

He was appointed Assistant Ballet Master in 2002 and Ballet Master in 2008. He continues to perform character roles, including Widow Simone (La Fille mal gardée), Kostcheï (The Firebird), Grandfather (The Nutcracker), Dr Coppélius (Coppélia), Lord Capulet (Romeo and Juliet), the Merchant (Beauty and the Beast), Capuchin (Cyrano), Red King (Checkmate) and Catalabutte (The Sleeping Beauty). He created the role of the Beggar in Gillian Lynne's reconstruction of Robert Helpmann's Miracle in the Gorbals.