Anthony Dowell

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Sir Anthony James Dowell, CBE (born 16 February 1943) is a retired British ballet dancer and a former Artistic Director of The Royal Ballet. Dowell was one of the great premiers danseurs nobles of the twentieth century and the natural heir at the Royal Ballet to the classical tradition established by Harold Turner and Michael Somes.

Early Life[edit]

Dowell was born in London and trained with June Hampshire for five years before entering The Royal Ballet School aged ten. In 1960 he graduated into the Covent Garden Opera Ballet, transferring to The Royal Ballet the following year.[1] He was ultimately promoted to the most senior rank of Principal Dancer in 1966, and is recognised as one of the company's star dancers of the 1970s and early 80s. Dowell was made a CBE in 1973 (becoming the youngest dancer to be so honoured) and was knighted in 1995. The first role Dowell created and is most noted for was Oberon in The Dream by Sir Frederick Ashton. The ballet saw the beginning of his famous partnership with dancer Dame Antoinette Sibley, who danced Titania. He is also noted for his filmed performance as Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake with Natalia Makarova in 1980.

Dance Career[edit]

Proving to have a strong technique, lyrical quality, and extraordinary dramatic sensibilities, by 1966 Dowell was promoted to the rank of principal dancer and created other roles in Ashton's works including Beliaev in his A Month in the Country (1968), Troyte in Enigma Variations (1976), Lo Straniero in Varii Capricci, and with Antoinette Sibley, the pair created Ashton's Meditation from Thaïs (1971) . The Sibley-Dowell partnership also inspired Kenneth MacMillan, for whom they created Manon and Des Grieux in Manon (1974). Other MacMillan roles made for Dowell were Benvolio in Romeo and Juliet and later the character roles of the Emperor in The Prince of the Pagodas (1989) and the betrayed husband in Winter Dreams (1991). He also created roles for several other choreographers including Antony Tudor (Boy with Matted Hair, Shadowplay), Rudolf Nureyev (Prospero, The Tempest), and Hans van Manen (Four Schumann Pieces), and was acclaimed for his performances in the classics and in ballets by Jerome Robbins (La Bayadère) and George Balanchine (Agon). He made many international appearances as a guest artist during his career, even portraying Vaslav Nijinsky in Ken Russell's film Valentino (1977). Between 1978 and 1980 he took leave of absence to dance with American Ballet Theatre where he partnered with Natalia Makarova and experienced the technical challenge of a new repertoire. He continued to make occasional dance appearances into his fifties, creating roles in MacMillan's Winter Dreams (1991) and Wright's revised version of The Nutcracker (1999). That "he is, without a doubt, the finest Drosselmeyer who has ever danced the role....is without question. Sir Anthony is a consummate man of the theater...one of the last we shall know....We should rejoice in the recorded legacy of his work onstage." -Michael Maglaras

In demand[edit]

In the late 1970s he danced with both The Royal Ballet in London and American Ballet Theatre in New York, where his extensive repertory included the role of Solor in the first performances of Natalia Makarova’s production of La Bayadère. One of his last full dancing roles was as Palemon in a revival of Sir Frederick Ashton's Ondine in the late 1980s. While Artistic Director of The Royal Ballet, Dowell presented a new version of The Sleeping Beauty. The production was filmed and features Dowell in the character rôle of Carabosse.

Post-Dance Career[edit]

After retiring as a principal dancer, in 1984 he was appointed Assistant to the Director to Norman Morrice at the Royal Ballet, being promoted to Associate Director in 1985. He was appointed as Artistic Director of The Royal Ballet in 1986. Whilst he was Director, Dowell's first new production for the Company was Swan Lake (1987), which was based on meticulous research into the Petipa-Ivanov version of 1895, and has been a favourite of the repertory for nearly three decades.[2] The following Season Dowell persuaded Ashton to allow Ondine to be revived after and absence of more than 20 years. His final production for the Company, The Sleeping Beauty, was first performed in 1994. In addition to dancing and directing, Dowell has created costume designs for works including The Royal Ballet's In the Night, Meditation from Thaïs and Symphony in C. Since stepping down as Director in 2001, he has also staged several productions worldwide - including The Dream for ABT, Ballet West, Joffrey Ballet, Tokyo Ballet and Dutch National Ballet - and appeared as a narrator for companies including The Royal Ballet, Joffrey Ballet and the Metropolitan Opera, New York.[3] Dowell's position as Director for The Royal Ballet was succeeded by Ross Stretton. Dowell is a Governor of the Royal Ballet School and is also a member of organisations such as the Royal Academy of Dance[4] and the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing.[5] He continues to work with the Royal as guest coach and to stage individual Ashton ballets for other companies.[6]


On DVD[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.roh.org.uk/people/anthony-dowell
  2. ^ The Royal Opera House (2014/15). Swan Lake Programme.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. ^ The Royal Opera House (2014/15). Swan Lake Programme.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  4. ^ http://www.rad.org.uk/article.asp?id=128
  5. ^ http://www.istd.org/staff/sir-anthony-dowell/
  6. ^ Mackrell, Craine, Debra, Judith (2010). Dowell, (Sir) Anthony. Oxford University Press. 
  7. ^ Anthony Dowell filmography at BFI, accessed 21 January 2014.

External links[edit]