Principal Character Artist
Gary Avis is Ballet Master and a Principal Character Artist with The Royal Ballet. He joined the Company in 1989, promoted to Soloist in 1995 and Principal Character Artist in 2005. He was made Assistant Ballet Master in 2007 and Ballet Master in 2010. His many roles with the Company include almost all the male Principal Character roles, including Drosselmeyer (The Nutcracker), Von Rothbart (Swan Lake) and Step-Sister (Cinderella). His role creations include Father Shepherd (Christopher Wheeldon's The Winter's Tale).
Avis was born in Ipswich and began ballet training aged 12, having originally planned to go into musical theatre; Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire remain significant inspirations. He trained locally at the Linda Shipton School of Dance and at Bird College, Kent, before joining The Royal Ballet Upper School and graduating into the Company. He left the Company in 1999 to co-found K-Ballet Company in Japan, and danced with English National Ballet for two years before returning to The Royal Ballet in 2004. Avis has enjoyed a long partnership with Darcey Bussell, creating a role with her in Wheeldon's DGV: Danse à grande vitesse and partnering her in her Viva la Diva Arena Tour, on ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ and at the London 2012 Olympics Closing Ceremony.
In 2011 Avis was made an Honorary Graduate of University Campus Suffolk and was awarded the Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for Outstanding Male Performance – Classical. He has close ties with The Hunger Project UK, a charity committed to ending world hunger and for whom he has arranged a number of fund-raising gala performances.
News and features
Highlights from The Big Question debate, held at the Royal Opera House.
A selection of tweets and comments following our Big Question debate.
First in a new series of live-streamed events to feature debate, performance, and audience questions.
The Principal Character Artist's answers to your questions.
Darcey Bussell joins Royal Ballet Principals and 200-strong ensemble for finale.
Patron Gary Avis of The Royal Ballet involved in event to promote World Hunger Day.