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a life in architecture

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Deborah Bull, a principal dancer with the Royal Ballet, is also a member of the Arts Council, columnist for the Daily Telegraph and the subject of Travels with My Tutu, soon to be seen on bbc Two. She claims that her mental filing system is reserved for dance and that she forgets buildings: 'In London it's hard to notice architecture because the streets are so dense.'

Not so in Sydney where Jorn Utzon's Opera House is unmissable. 'As a building in a landscape it's so modern and it looks so right. On one of those harbour trips you get an ever-changing kaleidoscopic view and it never looks wrong.' She has not danced there because the stage doors are too small. 'You'd have to slice the sets for something like Swan Lake to get them through.'

If Bull decided to have a swimming pool it would be a replica of Berthold Lubetkin's Penguin Pool at London Zoo (see picture). She loves the juxtaposition of waddling penguins and the graceful form of the architecture. 'It has a very ocean liner, cocktail-hour Thirties look about it, evocative of its era. And it's wonderful that it should have been built for penguins.'

Finally a personal choice: the Royal Opera House, as transformed by Dixon Jones with bdp, now the Royal Ballet's new home. 'It's a huge site; even so it was hard to fit in everything in. We ballet dancers need space. We couldn't have wished for better. We're over the moon about it.'

Deborah Singmaster

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