The Australian Ballet

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David McAllister AC

Artistic Director 2001-2020

David Mc Allister by Justin Ridler 2017

David McAllister AC

A graduate of The Australian Ballet School, Perth-born David McAllister began his training with Evelyn Hodgkinson and joined The Australian Ballet in 1983. He was promoted to senior artist in 1986 and to principal artist in January 1989.

During his time with the company, he danced many principal roles, including those in The Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, Coppélia, Manon, La Sylphide, John Cranko's Onegin and Romeo and Juliet, and Jiří Kylián's Stepping Stones; in 1985 he won Bronze at the Fifth International Ballet Competition in Moscow.

Throughout his career, David made numerous guest appearances worldwide, dancing with Bolshoi Ballet, the Kirov Ballet, the Georgian State Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Singapore Dance Theatre and, in 1992, as part of a Royal Gala performance in London in the presence of the Princess of Wales. In 2000, he completed a Graduate Diploma in Arts and Entertainment Management and in 2001, took his final bow as a dancer after a performance of Albrecht in Giselle at the Sydney Opera House, partnering Miranda Coney. In July of that year, David became artistic director of The Australian Ballet. He was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2004 Australia Day Honours List.

Over the next two decades, on his way to becoming The Australian Ballet's longest-serving artistic director, David invigorated the company's repertoire with a series of new commissions from the world's foremost choreographers, including Alexei Ratmansky, Graeme Murphy and Wayne McGregor. He appointed two new resident choreographers, Tim Harbour and Alice Topp, and, through co-productions with leading international companies, secured major works such as Christopher Wheeldon's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland© and Yuri Possokhov's Anna Karenina. As a director/choreographer, he gifted the company with a lavish and widely acclaimed new production of The Sleeping Beauty, funded largely through donations from philanthropic supporters, and three works in the Storytime Ballet series, made especially for young children.

In 2019, David announced that the 2020 season would be his last with the company.

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30 years with The Australian Ballet

How do you sum up three decades dedicated to ballet? In 2013 we celebrated Artistic Director David McAllister's 30-year anniversary with The Australian Ballet and his journey from an exuberant young dancer to leader of the nation's flagship dance company. Along the way he was lauded by both audiences and critics in Australia and internationally for his dancing; formed incredible partnerships with extraordinary ballerinas such as Elizabeth Toohey, Miranda Coney and Fiona Tonkin; and has steered the company to acclaim on the world stage.

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Professional accolades

  • Australia Day Honours List, 2004
  • Member of the Order of Australia, 2004
  • Bronze Medal at the Fifth International Ballet Competition in Moscow, 1985
  • Oceanic Equity Arts Award for Young Achievers, 1985
"McAllister and The Australian Ballet have set an interesting new course for the next half-century and I, for one, am very much on-board." Cur­tain Call