Happy Birthday to a Ballet Legend

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.