BENT AT A NINETY DEGREE ANGLE, Adam Cooper’s back is perfectly flat. Two strong legs maintain a precision balance. His powerful arms are fully outstretched. and his long fingers elegantly poised. But wait. What‘s wrong with this picture? Where are the figure— hugging white tights‘.’ The muscle- straining tunic? Clad in jeans and a jumper. and clutching not a principal ballerina. but a pool cue. the former Royal Ballet star still cuts a dash. And as he moves around the table. squaring up a shot (he‘s got a lovely bridge). it‘s easy to see why his performances have sent quivers down spines the world over.
An intimidating assemblage of
pool-hall pros watch the progress
14 mum 25 May—8 Jun 2000
of our game at Glasgow‘s Q Club (‘Just pretend they‘re not there. that‘s what I do when I‘m performing} whispers Cooper encouragingly) and it‘s weird to be in such a male-orientated environment
(female representation comes courtesy of
me and the bar staff) with someone who makes his living in what‘s generally seen as a girl‘s world.
Two games (and. I might add. two defeats) later. he climbs up onto a bar stool to chat. Taking alternate swigs and drags on a bottle of Bud and a .Vlayfair. Cooper does much to quash the long- running misconceptions surrounding male ballet dancing. His meteoric rise through. and subsequent departure from. the Royal Ballet led to a column inch allowance not usually afforded the oance world. But it was his now infamous performance as the male swan in Adventures In Motion
Pictures‘ Swan Lake that propelled him to
celebrity status. It also provided a much
needed shot in the arm for Cooper‘s flagging o.
’1 never really felt confident as a dancer until I left the Royal Ballet. and suddenly my confidence rocketed.’ he says. ‘When I got into the company I thought it was just a fluke. and I wasn't going to get anywhere . . . and then they made me into a principal dancer at quite a young age which was amazing. But I was always the one who went on when people were injured. because I was a quick learner. It got to the stage when it felt like that was the only time I‘d ever perform.’
And the beatilic smiles of the ballet dancer often belie their true feelings. ‘There's nothing worse than having to perform in front of 2()()() people in a ballet you absolutely hate. or dance with a partner you can‘t bear.‘ says Cooper. ‘But you have to do it because that‘s yourjob.‘