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Photograph: Tristram Kenton
Photograph: Tristram Kenton

A principal ballet dancer selects three albums to walk around London to

Sarah Lamb from The Royal Ballet likes her strolling music to serve up big feels

By
Kate Lloyd
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We think it's pretty fair to say that, when you spend hours dancing every day, you're going to hear some songs. Long songs, short songs, fast songs, slow songs – you're going to discover songs that are good to move to and songs that are bad. That's certainly the case for Sarah Lamb, a principal dancer with The Royal Ballet. 

Trained in Boston, she joined the company in 2004 and has held the prestigious role in London for 15 years. Leading classical, dramatic and contemporary productions, she's an expert in capturing the feelings of songs and expressing them with her body. In fact, you could argue that few people have as much insight into the art of moving to music as Sarah. 

Who better to ask, then, for music recommendations to brighten up the dullest lockdown walks? You know the ones: that boring loop of the park you do in your lunch hour every day, the 30-minute strut to the supermarket that seems to get longer every time, the 7pm power walk you've started doing just to get your step count up.... 

We've got Lamb to share three albums that she uses to brighten up those strolls. Her answers are emotive records that will add a dose of big feels to your usual circuits. This is the music she walks around London to. 

1. Thelonious Monk – ‘Solo Monk’ (1965)

‘From the first track, “Dinah (Take 2)” I am smiling and there’s a jaunt to my step. For any perambulation in London, this album is a perfect companion. The swing, the joy, the rhythm, his music makes me want to dance. The more I listen the more I appreciate his genius. I was first introduced to Monk when I was in elementary school and I thought that “I didn’t like jazz” and then I quickly changed my mind. I love how much nuance is captured on this recording.’ 

2. John Prine – ‘Bruised Orange’ (1978)

‘If I have tears in my eyes it’s because I’m thinking of John Prine and all those loved and lost. I cannot walk in London and not see the absence, loss and heartbreak everywhere. His voice is so honest; it wraps me in the hug I cannot have… Here’s a funny story about the song “That’s the Way the World goes Round”: at a gig a lady shouted, “Play the ‘Happy Enchilada Song’”, and he had no idea what she was talking about; eventually he realised “half an inch of water” slurred together quickly sounded like “happy enchilada” to her.’ 

3. Billie Holiday – ‘Songs for Distingué Lovers’ (1957)

‘“A Foggy Day” is my song for London right now. Billie Holiday can take a grey day and transform it into sunshine. She is inimitable. Ms. Holiday is someone amongst the many that I am thankful for; all the artists who give us joy, escape, hope, love and catharsis.’

The Royal Opera House is streaming productions, every Friday, here

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