9 August 2023 16:47

Monica Parker Obituary

It is with sadness we announce the death of Monica Parker.

Monica Parker A.I.Chor F.I.Chor 

Monica Parker with Kenneth MacMillan ©Leslie Spatt.

Monica Parker was born in Axminster, Devonshire, England and started dancing at the age of ten in Exeter. Six years later she entered The Royal Ballet Upper School. While at the school, she studied Benesh Movement Notation (BMN) under the leadership of Joan and Rudolf Benesh. In the second year of her studies, she began to teach notation to other students. After two years she left The Royal Ballet School to pursue other interests. In 1965, following two years at the Foreign Office, she was invited by Joan to help in setting up the Institute of Choreology.

In 1966 she was one of the first to be awarded an A.I.Chor (Associate of the Institute of Choreology), one of the recognised qualifications of a Benesh Choreologist. In 1968 she was also one of the first to be awarded an F.I.Chor (Fellow of the Institute of Choreology), an honorary award recognising services to Benesh Movement Notation.

After a few years teaching BMN she accepted Kenneth MacMillan’s invitation to join the staff of Deutsche Oper Berlin as the company choreologist. Two years later, in 1970, on Kenneth’s appointment as Director of The Royal Ballet, she followed him to join the company. Monica’s association with Kenneth spanned nearly 25 years, during which time she notated, rehearsed, reconstructed and staged a huge amount of his work

Following the death of Rudolf Benesh in 1975, Monica was appointed Director of the Benesh Institute. Combining this with her role as Principal Notator with the Royal Ballet, and numerous invitations to stage works around the world, Monica persuaded many other companies to employ notators. She engaged Adrian Grater as technical director to carry on Rudolf Benesh’s work developing, and refining the notation system.  Her published works include ‘Dance Notation for Beginners’, ‘BMN Elementary Solo Syllabus – Ballet Application’ and ‘Benesh: the Notation of Dance’ in Images and Understanding.

Monica was an internationally renowned Choreologist known for her close working relationship with MacMillan and she notated many of his ballets. She continued to stage his works worldwide until her retirement.

Anders Ivarsson, interim Head of Benesh International at the Royal Academy of Dance said:

"We are saddened by the passing of Monica Parker. She was a formidable force in putting Benesh Movement Notation (BMN) firmly on the world stage. Working alongside Joan and Rudolf in the early days of BMN, and spearheading the use of BMN in companies around the world, she was, and will continue to be known as a key figure within the Benesh community."

Liz Cunliffe, a former Director of the Benesh Institute said:

"Monica Parker was an inspirational figure for notators. Backed up by a photographic memory for both live movement and the written score, she had a keen understanding of how BMN worked not just as a written system for recording movement but also how the score could reflect the choreographic intention."