Alexander Campbell, former Royal Ballet Principal and new Artistic Director of the Royal Academy of Dance talked to Gerard Dowler about his career as a dancer and the challenges of his new role.  They started with the new role which encompasses responsibility for the RAD’S classical ballet syllabus and support for RAD teachers throughout the world. A former RAD student (his grandmother was an examiner), he aims to broaden the scope of the RAD and make it more representative of the world. The move had not been a long-term plan, he heard about the vacancy in December, was interviewed in February and ended up leaving the Company in March  after a farewell performance of Manon with Francesca Hayward.  

The conversation turned to his early life in Australia and his dual interests of dance and cricket (his father was a cricket coach). Aged about 11, he chose dance over cricket and a scholarship to The Royal Ballet School brought him to London. Competing in the Genée competition in 2003, which was held in Birmingham, led him to form links with BRB and he joined the company on graduating.  

Alexander thrived at BRB enjoying the breadth of the repertoire. He spoke warmly of the support of David Bintley, Marion Tait, Michael O’Hare and his former partner Natasha Oughtred. A guest appearance with Australian Ballet led him to think of stretching his wings.  He thought he might be invited to join the company but instead Director Daviid McAllister suggested he audition for The Royal Ballet. He did and was offered the position of soloist, being promoted to Principal ( a role he long thought would evade him) in 2016. Among his favourite roles he cited Colas in La Fille mal gardée, Albrecht in Giselle and Des Grieux in Manon, for which he had been coached by Sir Anthony Dowell.  Asked about the ones that got away, he said he wished he had danced Rudolf, in Mayerling, and Rhapsody.

It was an entertaining and wide-ranging conversation ranging from the role of boys in ballet to what is like to playing basketball with Vadim in the dressing room!  

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