Destinations | Perfect Weekend

Lauren Cuthbertson’s London

At 26, Lauren Cuthbertson is the youngest female prinicipal in the Royal Ballet. After leading roles in ‘Sylvia’ and ‘Swan Lake’, she stars as Alice in the world premiere of ‘Alice in Wonderland’.

February 17 2011
Alison Gunn

“It’s rare that I get a weekend without a performance or rehearsal, so if I do, I make the most of it with a mixture of relaxation, seeing friends and going out. I go at my own pace, though, and I don’t plan everything – it’s important to be spontaneous.

I share a flat in Butler’s Wharf in London with my best friend, Hayley, who’s also in the company. A lot of the dancers live in Covent Garden but I like to have some space between work and home. We look out onto a communal Japanese garden and decking, where ducks waddle up and down, and it’s a stone’s throw from the Thames.

On Saturday morning I like to wander around Bermondsey, which has a lot of character and a proper residential feel. I’ll go to the market and buy cheese, fruit, meat pies and delicious apple crumble, then pop into Pussy Willow boutique, run by a designer called Amanda Thompson. I’m a real fan of her fashion, which is very feminine, in great shapes and fabrics. She’ll fit clothes personally and can make any woman look amazing; I borrowed a dress from her recently to wear at the Royal Variety Show after-party.

Another local place I’ve discovered is The Garrison, a beautiful pub that does great food, especially its roast lamb and beef. For me, a meal’s not complete without meat. In the afternoon, I’ll wander along to the South Bank with my boyfriend, who’s a filmmaker. We really like the BFI, where we recently saw The Leopard by Luchino Visconti, which was fascinating; and Season’s Greetings at the National Theatre, a very funny play. I can easily lose myself watching other shows, but at the same time I pick up little things. I often think that it’s the acting part of dancing I’d miss the most if I ever stopped – inhabiting a character is what drives me through a ballet. Afterwards we’ll go to eat at Rossopomodoro on Fulham Road, which does the best Margherita pizzas. I’m not a clubbing person; six years ago my weekend would have been completely different, but now I get all that buzz from performing.

Sunday isn’t Sunday without the eggs. I’ve become a dab hand at making drop scones – which I’ll serve with sausages, bacon and maple syrup, and we’ll eat while listening to Classic FM. I’m always jumping up to my computer to find out what a piece is called; a bit fanatic, I’m afraid, but I like to log all the details.

Until recently my boyfriend lived in Kensington, so we often find ourselves going west. My favourite gym is the Virgin in Kensington; it has the best Jacuzzi, so I’ll go for a steam and a stretch, and then swim and do some yoga. It’s important to iron out all the achy bits in my body so that I can start afresh on Monday with a blank canvas.

After the gym we’ll go for a walk in Kensington Gardens and maybe end up at the Exeter Street Bakery for a café stop, or Maggie Jones’s – great for British comfort food. Then we make our way to the V&A museum, which I’ve got a lot of time for; it’s quirky and original. I loved the recent Ballets Russes exhibition – we all keep saying in the company, “If only we were alive in the 1930s!” It seems like the most exciting time – imagine working with people such as Diaghilev, and Picasso as your set designer.

If the weather’s good we’ll meet up with my brother and his girlfriend, who have a sweet dog from Battersea Dogs Home, and go for a walk – well, usually they walk while I sit in the café. One of my favourite places is Pembroke Lodge in Richmond Park, near the Royal Ballet School. It takes me back to my student days when we used to go there for tea.

Back at home I sew my pointe shoes – I get through at least five pairs a week. Sometimes I do them on the bus, but it’s nice to do while chatting to friends. Soon after I’m tucked up in bed, looking forward to the week ahead.”

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