Yesterday evening, international ballet star David Hallberg took fans by surprise with an exciting announcement: In 2021, he will become the artistic director of The Australian Ballet. Hallberg will follow in the footsteps of current director David McAllister, who's been at the helm for nearly 20 years.
Hallberg is no stranger to The Australian Ballet. He's currently a resident guest artist at the Melbourne-based company, in addition to his positions as principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre and the Bolshoi Ballet, and principal guest artist at The Royal Ballet. Hallberg has regularly guested at The Australian Ballet since 2010, and in 2014, after he was sidelined by a serious ankle injury, he spent 14 months in Melbourne working with the company's celebrated medical team. His return to the stage, in 2016, took place with The Australian Ballet in Sydney, where he debuted in the role of Franz in Coppélia.
Though Hallberg has thrilled audiences worldwide since then, he's also taken on new offstage challenges. In 2017 he published a memoir, and the following year directed ABT Incubator, a new choreographic program.
And while Hallberg jumps into this directorship without ever having run a company, his career has given him an unprecedented view inside some of the world's greatest theaters. In 2011 he became the Bolshoi's first ever American principal, and as a teenager he spent a year training at the Paris Opéra Ballet School, where he was the only non-French student in his class. He's also guested at La Scala, and toured with frequent partner Natalia Osipova. "I look forward to using the experience I've garnered over my 20-year career around the world and funneling it into the culture of The Australian Ballet," said Hallberg in a statement. "The future looks very bright for this world class company."
Fans of Hallberg's elegant prowess onstage will have through the end of next year to see him perform. He told The New York Times that he has "some performance commitments through 2021," including his official retirement during ABT's 2021 Metropolitan Opera House season, but stressed that he has no intention of performing with The Australian Ballet. Meanwhile, ABT just announced that Hallberg will be taking on the roles of Romeo and Albrecht during the company's upcoming 2020 Met season, a treat for local balletomanes before Hallberg heads to his new home down under.