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Alexander Grant (1925-2011)

Former dancer and director dies aged 86.

By Kitty Greenleaf (Former Ballet Press Assistant)

3 October 2011 at 3.39pm | 3 Comments

The Royal Ballet is deeply saddened to hear of the death of Alexander Grant, who died on Friday 30 September, aged 86.

Alexander Grant’s death is a great loss to The Royal Ballet in whose history he holds a unique place. As a dancer he created many roles for Frederick Ashton and returned often to work with today’s dancers on those roles. We also welcomed him back regularly as the custodian of La Fille mal gardée, and this season’s revival of the ballet in April and May of next year will be dedicated to his memory.

- Dame Monica Mason, Director of The Royal Ballet

Alexander Grant was born in Wellington, New Zealand in 1925. He started dance classes, aged 7, later winning a scholarship from the Royal Academy of Dance to study in England. However, Grant remained in New Zealand due to the outbreak of World War II, eventually taking a place at the Sadler's Wells Ballet School in 1946, when he was 21. Within a short time, he became a founder member of the Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet, and during his first tour with the company, transferred to the parent company at the Royal Opera House, today's Royal Ballet. He was later promoted to the rank of soloist, and during his career with The Royal Ballet became noted for his interpretation of character roles, creating many roles for Frederick Ashton, The Royal Ballet’s Founder Choreographer. One of the most famous roles he created was Alain in La Fille mal gardée, a rich farmer’s son who is rejected by Lise, a widow’s daughter who finally marries her poor sweetheart. For five years from 1971, Grant directed The Royal Ballet’s popular touring offshoot, Ballet For All. In 1976, he moved to Toronto to take up the position of Artistic Director of the National Ballet of Canada which he held until 1983.

He is survived by his partner of 54 years Jean-Pierre Gasquet, and his brother Garry Grant, also a former dancer of The Royal Ballet.

Do you have any memories of Alexander Grant? Share by commenting

By Kitty Greenleaf (Former Ballet Press Assistant)

3 October 2011 at 3.39pm

This article has been categorised Ballet and tagged alexander grant, Ballet, La Fille mal gardee

This article has 3 comments

  1. Caroline Rand responded on 4 October 2011 at 10:11am Reply

    I was privileged to see Alexander Grant perform several roles, but the one which stands out in my memory was Alain. A tremendous character performer.

  2. Alexopoulou Christina responded on 8 October 2011 at 9:30am Reply

    Dear Mr. Jean-Pierre,
    i don't know if you remember me. I'm your pianist in ''La fille mal garde'' from the Greek National Opera, the cat lover! Please, if you read this message i'd love to hear from you. I hope you are ok, i'm so sorry for Mr. Grant ... i miss so much the wonderfull rehearsals we had and the cat-talking! I still have your amazing card you gave me at the night of the ''La fille'' premiere! I 'm sending you all my love and my respect. I will allways keep Mr Grant and you in my heart! It was an amazing honor for me to be his rehearsal pianist!

  3. Hi All
    I am distantly related to Alexander and although I never saw him perform, his cousin, who is my dad's wife (convoluted chain of connections) spoke highly of him and his performances!
    Very sad to hear of his death, as if I had known he was in London (thought he was still in Canada) I would have gotten in contact. If Jean-Pierre Gasquet is reading this, please contact me via my website or hunt me down on facebook!

    Chris Hall

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