After almost 40 years atop the Australian Ballet, David McAllister is forging a freelance career that includes choreographing a new production of Swan Lake for the Finnish National Ballet, co-writing his autobiography Soar and… taking the Elite Masterclass at The McDonald College during the Autumn holidays.
Alongside Queensland Ballet’s Rani Luther, and The McDonald College alumnus Natasha Crook, ex-Nederlands Danse Theatre, McAllister put 60 dancers through their paces over three days to April 14.
“It’s much more enjoyable teaching now because I’m NOT the Artistic Director of the Australian Ballet,” McAllister said. “I still love being around dancers.”
The fully-subscribed series attracted children of varying standards from dance schools around Sydney and interstate. They did not have to audition for entry.
“Talent does emerge from all sorts of places, you never know,” he said.
McAlister’s final season at AB in 2020, which was to have celebrated some of the many highlights of his long tenure there both as a dancer and as the Artistic Director, was largely cancelled due to Coronavirus.
After so many years fully-immersed in the elite dance world he is remarkably sanguine about how that part of his career drew to a close.
“I had a lot of time at home by myself and I thought, it’s OK, I can do this,” he said.
McAllister’s recently-released biography charts his journey from growing up in suburban Perth and lobbying his parents to pursue a career in ballet, to his time as the boss.
McAllister’s parents insisted his finish his secondary education before he joined the AB in Melbourne.
“I am very grateful my parents insisted I finished my education (although at the time I thought they had ruined my life). Parents really do know best, who knew!!,” he said.
Rani Luther taught Masterclass participants an excerpt from her Queensland Ballet choreography and Natasha Crook returned to the studio for the first time in 15 years to teach an excerpt from Jiří Kylián’s Falling Angels. McAllister put the students through Signets from Swan Lake and Fairies and a male variation from Sleeping Beauty.
He said he enjoyed working with the children.
“All of us have that child within. I remember the fear of not being good enough so if you give them the opportunity to feel comfortable the magic glow comes forward,” he said.
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