Ballet Stars

There are few opportunities as rewarding for a dancer as having choreography created on you. Sir Anthony Dowell, former principal and then artistic director of The Royal Ballet, is one of those rare few who had the chance to originate many roles throughout his performing career. Dowell was a particular inspiration for Sir Frederick Ashton; the choreographer created many roles for him, including original choreography for the Prince in The Royal Ballet's production of Sleeping Beauty. In this variation from Act II, Dowell comments on, and demonstrates, the unique sense of self-possession that comes with performing a specially-created role.

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Rojo and Polunin in Marguerite and Armand. Bill Cooper via The Telegraph.

Whether it's an oh-so fashionably late arrival to a ball or an endless line of impressively in-sync penchés, ballets know the power of a dramatic entrance. (Appropriate, perhaps, that the word “entrance" has a double meaning, depending on how you pronounce it: “an entry" and also “to enthrall.") Take a look at some of our favorite wing-to-stage moments.

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Sir Anthony Dowell, principal dancer at The Royal Ballet from 1966 to 1984 and director of the company from 1986 to 2001, celebrates his 70th birthday this Saturday, February 16th.

A strong and masterful technical dancer, Dowell created the role of Oberon in Frederick Ashton’s masterpiece The Dream. Anotinette Sibley was his Titania, and the Dowell-Sibley team quickly became a legendary ballet partnership. Dowell also created dramatic dance poetry with Lynn Seymour in Ashton’s A Month in the Country and Natalia Makarova in Swan Lake, and as Solor in La Bayadère. American audiences got to know Dowell in the 1970s, when he danced with American Ballet Theatre and the Joffrey Ballet.

After retiring from the stage in the 1980s, he took the helm of The Royal, where he fostered the careers of Sylvie Guillen, Jonathan Cope, Carlos Acosta, Darcey Bussell and Alina Cojocaru, to name just a few. In the last program he directed, Dowell chose to feature The Dream and A Month in the Country, both left to him in Ashton's will.

It seems fitting that as he celebrates his 70th, Dowell is again paired with Sibley: The pair are coaching The Royal’s tribute to Ashton, which runs through February 23.  

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