Steven McRae

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Steven McRae
Born (1985-12-19)19 December 1985
Residence London
Nationality Australian
Education Royal Ballet School
Occupation Principal Dancer
Years active 2004-
Height 173 cm (5 ft 8 in)
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Harrod
Children Two
Current group The Royal Ballet

Steven McRae (born 19 December 1985, Sydney) is an Australian ballet dancer.[1] He is a principal dancer with the Royal Ballet, London.[2]

Early life[edit]

Steven McRae was raised in Sydney, the son of a drag racer.[2]

He started dancing aged seven, after watching his older sister in her dance classes. Steven McRae studied tap as well as ballet.[2] He was soon being entered for the performing-arts competitions in Australia known as eisteddfods, often gracing 25 sections at a time.[3] By his teens, already an extremely capable tapper, Steven McRae knew that his future lay in dance, and trained throughout high school.

In 2002, at 16, he won the gold medal at the 2002 Genée held in Sydney that year. In 2003, at 17, he won the Prix de Lausanne in Switzerland, earning a scholarship, and entered the Royal Ballet School in London.


He graduated into The Royal Ballet in 2004 and was promoted to first artist in 2005, soloist in 2006, first soloist in 2008 and principal in 2009.

The Guardian has called McRae "a modern-day Fred Astaire".[1] In 2014, he was named "Young Australian Achiever of the Year in the UK" for his work with the Royal Ballet.[4]

First principal role[edit]

In 2005, in his first season with the Royal Ballet McRae jumped on the occasion to dance Symphonic Variations by Frederick Ashton, which is an iconic piece of the Royal Ballet.[5] Symphonic Variations was Ashton’s first work after World War II, and one of the Company’s first to be performed on the huge main stage of the Royal Opera House.[6]

On stage[edit]

In 2011 McRae originated the role of the Mad Hatter in Christopher Wheeldon's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland at the Royal Opera House.[1] In 2014 he originated the role of Prince Florizel in Christopher Wheeldon's new full-length ballet The Winter's Tale.[7]

In 2016 McRae originated the role of "The Creature" in Liam Scarlett's full-length ballet of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.[8]

"There is a moment before Steven McRae steps on stage that you easily can mistake for nerves and he has learnt over the years that it's not nerves, it's adrenaline and a slight sense of anxiety. It's almost impossible to dance as a soloist without this performance element."[5]

He is frequently used in works from Royal Ballet choreographer Wayne Mcgregor such as Chroma, Multiverse, and Limen as he is very quick in picking up on McGregor's modern style as well as the way he can manipulate his body.

One year absence for injury in 2008[edit]

In January 2008, at 22, McRae partially tore his Achilles tendon and was told that not only would he never dance again but he would have an enduring limp. He found “a most incredible” Swedish surgeon and it took a year, until December 2008, to recover.

He started rehabilitation classes with his coach, Lesley Collier, and psychological rehabilitation, and studied for a BA Hons in business management and leadership.[9][10]

McRae completed his University Degree in Business Management and Leadership whilst working full time.

He works still with Lesley Collier, a principal dancer with the Royal Ballet from 1972 to 1995 and répétiteur since 2000, as his coach at the Royal Ballet.


McRae's most marked characteristic is his speed and his red hair.[11] Among the principal dancers of the world's leading ballet companies he is the only one with red hair. Karl Paquette, principal dancer with the Paris Opera Ballet has sandy hair.

Personal life[edit]

McRae is married to Elizabeth Harrod, soloist with the Royal Ballet, and they have one daughter, Audrey Bluebell, born in December 2014,[12] and one son, Frederick Charles, born in November 2016.


  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland : Magician/Mad Hatter
  • Sweet Violets : Jack
  • Hansel and Gretel : Sandman
  • Frankenstein : Creature
  • Swan Lake : Siegfried[13]
  • Giselle : Albrecht
  • Romeo and Juliet : Romeo
  • Manon : Des Grieux
  • The Sleeping Beauty : Prince Florimund


  • 2002 : Genée International Ballet Competition, Gold Medal[10]
  • 2003 : Prix de Lausanne
  • 2007 : Emerging Male Artist (Classical)[11]
  • 2012 : Best Male Dancer Awards at the Critics’ Circle Dance Awards
  • 2014 : Young Australian Achiever in the UK by the Australia Day Foundation

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Mackrell, Judith. "Steven McRae – the ballet star who's a modern-day Fred Astaire". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Steven McRae, website of the Royal Opera House.
  3. ^ Steven McRae: Dancing at full throttle, by Mark Monahan, 26 April 2011, The Telegraph.
  4. ^ "Steven McRae – Young Australian Achiever Of The Year 2014". Retrieved 2 May 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Steven McRae Q&A, interview by Bloch from 2014 (9 min 31 s).
  6. ^ Royal Ballet: Dream/Symphonic Variations/Marguerite and Armand, announcement for the performance scheduled on 7 June 2017, Times.
  7. ^ Jennings, Luke. "The Winter's Tale review – 'a ballet to keep'". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 3 June 2014. 
  8. ^ "The Royal Ballet has created a monster with Frankenstein - review". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2017-05-11. 
  9. ^ The Royal Ballet’s Steven McRae on injury: turning weakness into strength, Gramilano, 6 February 2016.
  10. ^ a b Steven McRae: ‘Sometimes I feel 100 years old’ – the pain and the ecstasy driving star of Swan Lake, 22 March 2015, The Guardian.
  11. ^ a b Steven McRae answers the Gramilano Questionnaire… Dancers’ Edition with biography, 4 April 2014, Gramilano.
  12. ^ Steven McRae interview en l'air, by Armando Braswell, 17 August 2015.
  13. ^ Steven McRae, website of the ABT.