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Subject: "Boys are back in town for beefed-up ballet" Archived thread - Read only
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #1751
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Trog Woolley

11-06-01, 06:08 AM (GMT)
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"Boys are back in town for beefed-up ballet"
   Here is an article that I quote verbatim from "The Australian" 08/06/01.

Incoming Australian Ballet artistic director David McAllister has a message for the company's dancers: don't panic.

McAllister was referring to his appointment this week if a second male principal from outside the company ranks, former AB dancer and London-based performer Campbell McKenzie. The news follows McAllister's appointment in March of another principal and former AB dancer, Nigel Burley, a soloist with the Royal Ballet in London.

"It's not a trend, I promise," McAllister says. "I'm really committed to the talent in the company, but I felt room for some beefing up of the male ranks. There are a few boys who are on the path to that rank, but immediately there was room to bring back."

McKenzie, 29, spent four years dancing with the AB in the early 1990s. He left to reassess where his life was headed, joining the Scottish Ballet for four years in 1994 and performing as a guest artist with the Royal Ballet and City Ballet of London. For the past 18 months he has been performing in the dance musical 'Cats' and working on a new classical dance piece with British choreographer Cathy Martson.

"He's not your classical dancer in the traditional sense, but then neither was I," McAllister says. "He's very versatile and will mould into the company repertoire very well."

McKenzie approached McAllister about returning to the company during the latter's recent visits to various international dance companies. Over the years McKenzie has spoken with outgoing artistic director Ross Stretton about the possibility of returning but felt now was the right time.

McKenzie and Burley will complete a "diverse line-up" of male principals when they join the company in August, McAllister says.

"Steven Heathcote is very mature; Mathew Trent is wonderful in the contemporary work and very tall; Nigel Burley is great in the prince roles and Campbell McKenzie will being a dynamic quality," he says.

Many of the dancers will be disappointed to hear there will not be any promotions before contacts are renewed at year's end.

"I think to walk in the door from day one and start handing out big promotions ", says McAllister. "I need to be secure in myself. Six months isn't going to change a lot of things and the work is there anyway."

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