During The Friends farewell event to David McAllister on Wednesday 28 April, David was surprised when the event took a turn and became “David McAllister: This Is Your Life”.
Celebrating David McAllister AM was a joyous occasion including many special moments. The day of tribute culminated in the Royal Academy of Dance bestowing the internationally coveted Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award upon David McAllister AM in a touching ceremony.
“David McAllister: This Is Your Life” was hosted by Elizabeth Toohey, current Ballet Mistress of The Australian Ballet and long-term dance partner and close personal friend of David’s. Elizabeth delighted David with a line-up of guests either in person or by video who recounted charming and cheeky stories from David’s extraordinary career.
They included Don McAllister (David’s father) and Dianne Morris (David’s sister); Darren Spowart (an ex-dancer of The Australian Ballet and childhood friend of David); Maina Gielgud AO (former Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet and Ballet Director); Ian McRae AO and Richard Evans (past General Managers of The Australian Ballet); Graeme Murphy AO and Janet Vernon AM (internationally renowned Australian dance choreographers); and Wesley Enoch AM (David’s partner and outgoing Director of the Sydney Festival); followed by a message of Farewell from the Company (The Australian Ballet at Sydney Opera House).
The biggest surprise of the event was the presentation to David of the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award, recognised internationally as one of the most sought-after in the world of dance andthe highest honour from the Royal Academy of Dance. Bestowed in recognition of David’s dedication to The Australian Ballet for 40 years and for his wider contributions to the world of ballet including the Royal Academy of Dance where, in 2005, he was elected Vice President. Past recipients of the Award have included Sir Frederick Ashton, Dame Marie Rambert DBE, Rudolf Nureyev, Dame Gillian Lynne DBE, Sir Peter Wright CBE, Sir Matthew Bourne OBE, Maina Gielgud AO and Carlos Acosta CBE.
The Award was presented by DameDarcey Bussell DBE and Audrey Nicholls OAM FRAD on behalf of the Royal Academy of Dance. Bussell is widely acclaimed as one of the great British ballerinas, having been a principal dancer at the Royal Ballet and guest artist with many leading companies around the world including The Australian Ballet. She retired from ballet in 2007, is a former judge of BBC TV dance contest Strictly Come Dancing and President of the Royal Academy of Dance. Dame Darcey said “I am absolutely thrilled that David is receiving the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award, the highest honour the Royal Academy of Dance can bestow, given in recognition of outstanding service to the art of dance.”
This joyous celebration of David also raised over $170,000 for the McAllister Fund, ensuring David’s legacy of generosity will continue well into the future.
A virtual celebration of The Australian Ballet’s longest-serving artistic director – the extraordinary David McAllister – as he prepares to bid farewell to The Company. Take a trip down memory lane with a compilation of some of David’s most memorable moments from the archives. Hear from David’s nearest and dearest as they reflect on his legacy and share some of their favourite anecdotes from his tenure as an artist and leader of the company.
On Tuesday 29 September 2020, David McAllister, in conversation with co-hosts Catriona Rowntree and Amanda Dunn, celebrated the publication of his memoir, Soar: A Life Freed by Dance. Re-watch the recording of the virtual book launch and re-live the intimate reading of one of David’s favourite excerpts and interactive Q&A session.
Hosted by Friends Deputy Chair on stage at The Concourse
Chris Yates, Director of Production and Planning with The Australian Ballet, joined FAB Deputy Chair Bruce Pollack on stage at The Concourse. With more than 30 years in the performing arts industry, Chris’ career has encompassed all facets of production within the performing arts. Passionate about all the production, technical and creative joys of the arts, Chris’ extensive experience and insight is a delight.
The Friends joined Kim Carpenter in his studio to learn more about how he became involved in production design, discuss his love for Oscar Wilde’s love story, and take a look at the paintings he has made during lockdown that will be shown as part of his upcoming exhibition, The Happy Prince.
“It has been a joy to harness all my visual references from Wilde’s book and the process of creating and designing the ballet in order to reinvent them so as to tell the story in a purely visual form to be experienced in an art gallery. So the lockdown has allowed me an absorbing, driven creative period.”
– Kim Carpenter
Kim is exhibiting The Happy Prince from 13 to 25 October at ARO Gallery in Sydney.
Acclaimed theatre devisor/director/designer Kim Carpenter AM will exhibit 26 major artworks in response to Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince – the classic story of The Prince and The Little Swallow.
Carpenter recently adapted The Happy Prince for The Australian Ballet in collaboration with renowned choreographer Graeme Murphy. He also designed the sets and costumes. The production opened at The Queensland Performing Arts Centre on 25th of February. Sadly, due to the COVID-19 pandemic The Australian Ballet cancelled the August season at The Arts Centre, Melbourne and the November-December season at The Sydney Opera House.
Wilde’s immortal tale of love and sacrifice, tenderness and joy – combined with the creative journey of making a new full-length ballet with collaborators – choreographer, Graeme Murphy, and composer Christopher Gordon – fuelled Carpenter’s inspiration to create a suite of exquisite paintings.
Carpenter’s images are imaginative and whimsical, playful and atmospheric. They reflect Wilde’s wit, poetry and social commentary. The Happy Prince’s observations of struggle and survival, the disparity between the rich and the poor, are equally relevant today. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the divisions in society that Wilde wrote about in his story in 1888.
The Happy Prince
Tue 13 to Sun 25 October
11am – 6pm
51 William St, Sydney