English dancer, director and designer Anthony Dowell was Director of The Royal Ballet 1986–2001. As a dancer he was one of the great danseur nobles of the 20th century. In his time with the Company he created many roles for leading choreographers, and forged an acclaimed dance partnership with Antoinette Sibley. While Director, he staged new productions of Swan Lake (1987) and The Sleeping Beauty (1995) for the Company.
Dowell was born in London and trained with June Hampshire before entering The Royal Ballet School aged ten. In 1960 he graduated into the Covent Garden Opera Ballet, transferring to The Royal Ballet the following year. He was promoted to Principal in 1966. Dowell created his first role in 1964, with Frederick Ashton's quicksilver Oberon (The Dream). The ballet also saw the beginning of Dowell's partnership with Sibley, who created Titania. Further significant role creations included Des Grieux (Kenneth MacMillan's Manon) and Beliaev (Ashton's A Month in the Country). International appearances included dancing as a guest artist with American Ballet Theatre from the 1978/9 season on, and appearing in Ken Russell's film Valentino (1977).
As a costume designer Dowell has created designs for The Royal Ballet's productions of In the Night, Thaïs pas de deux and Symphony in C. He has also appeared as a narrator for companies including The Royal Ballet, Joffrey Ballet and the Metropolitan Opera, New York. Dowell was made a CBE in 1973 (becoming the youngest dancer to be so honoured) and was knighted in 1995.
News and features
30 May 2014
Frederick Ashton creates a wonderfully virtuoso set piece that perfectly mirrors Mendelssohn's lively music.
30 April 2014
See Anthony Dowell rehearsing Yuhui Choe as Aurora in this exclusive Insights event footage.
7 February 2014
A look at the development of the male dancer.
18 February 2013
What being in the studio with Frederick Ashton was really like.
27 July 2012
We asked you to pick your favourite production of the past season.
27 July 2012
A look at what inspired the striking cover image featuring both Minotaur and White Swan.
Antoinette Sibley as Manon and Anthony Dowell as Des Grieux in Manon © Leslie E. Spatt
Antoinette Sibley as Manon and Anthony Dowell as Des Griuex in Manon © Leslie E. Spatt 1974
Jennifer Penney as Manon, Anthony Dowell as Des Grieux and David Drew as the Gaoler in Manon 1978 © Royal Opera House / Donald Southern
David Drew, Monica Mason, David Wall, Jennifer Penney, Anthony Dowell and members of The Royal Ballet during the curtain call for Manon © 1981 Royal Opera House Collections / Donald Southern
David Wall, Kenneth MacMillan, Jennifer Penney and Anthony Dowell during the curtain call for Manon © 1981 Royal Opera House Collections / Donald Southern
Antoinette Sibley and Anthony Dowell in their dressing room after a performance of Manon © Leslie E. Spatt 1988