COVID-19: The Royal Opera House is currently closed to the public, with all performances cancelled until 19 April. We are contacting those who hold tickets for these cancelled performances.

Accessibility links


Sign In
  • Home
  • News
  • Former Royal Ballet Principal David Wall dies

Former Royal Ballet Principal David Wall dies

Wall became the youngest Principal in the history of the Company.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

19 June 2013 at 10.25am | 12 Comments

Former Royal Ballet Principal David Wall has died aged 67.

Wall became the youngest male Principal in the history of the Company aged 21 and was a frequent partner to Margot Fonteyn. He retired in 1984 and joined the Royal Academy of Dance as Director and General Secretary before becoming a Ballet Master at English National Ballet in 1995.

Kevin O'Hare, Director of The Royal Ballet said:

Everyone associated with The Royal Ballet, past and present, is deeply saddened by the death of David Wall. He was a truly exceptional artist and star of The Royal Ballet and one of its greatest dance actors. A fine classical dancer and a consummate partner, he possessed a dramatic intensity that allowed him to dance and create a huge variety of roles, all with equal success. It was these gifts that led Kenneth MacMillan to create the role of the manipulative and calculating Lescaut for him in Manon in 1974 and then, in 1978, the ground breaking role of Crown Prince Rudolf in Mayerling which is, to this day, the most challenging male role in The Royal Ballet's repertoire. It was an unforgettable experience for all us who saw him perform it.

David was a wonderful role model for all young male dancers of the generation that followed him and on his retirement from the stage he became an inspirational teacher and coach, committed to passing on his knowledge and experience, especially in so many of the roles he had made his own.

He will be sorely missed and our thoughts are with his wife Alfreda, former Principal Dancer with The Royal Ballet, and his family.”

A statue of David Wall by Enzo Plazzotta stands at Millbank on the north bank of the Thames.

Listen to David Wall on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs. His eclectic choice of music ranged from Puccini to Hendrix.

Kenneth MacMillan created the role of Prince Rudolf on Wall and it remains one of the most demanding male roles in ballet. View our gallery of David Wall in rehearsal for the 1978 premiere of Mayerling:

What are your memories of seeing David Wall perform? Do let us know via the comments section below.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

19 June 2013 at 10.25am

This article has been categorised Ballet and tagged David Wall, obituary, tribute

This article has 12 comments

  1. Thanks for linking to Londonist but the beautiful statue of David Wall is actually on the north bank of the Thames - it's on Millbank at Pimlico, SW1

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 19 June 2013 at 11:02am

      Hi Lindsey,

      Thanks for the correction - text has been amended.


      Digital Content Producer

  2. Very sad news, many condolences to his colleagues and loved ones. He was one of my favourite principals, one I would make a point of seeing. I have wonderful memories of David dancing in the 70s & 80s when I was Junior Associate sitting spellbound in the Amphitheatre. I was so lucky to have seen him in Mayerling back then too - I have the programmes still. He was a wonderful dancer.

  3. Nina Battleday responded on 19 June 2013 at 7:57pm Reply

    A marvellously versatile dancer.mercutio and Lescaut particularly memorable. Sadly i didn't see him in Mayerling on stage,but only the documentary made by ITV. He was a hugely popular dancer,an excellent partner,and gave me and many others a great deal of enjoyment.

  4. Juliet Romain responded on 19 June 2013 at 8:28pm Reply

    I am greatly saddened by the news, my deepest condolences to all his family and friends.I watched him dance all through the 70's&80's he was truly magnificent.

  5. Midsman responded on 20 June 2013 at 10:07am Reply

    I was lucky;David's career started at the same time as my ballet going.He was one of the finest Dance/Actors ever and I still treasure his performances from the Old Touring Company,especially with Doreen Wells in Lac but also in Fille Mal Gardee/Rake's Progress and he and his wife Alfreda Thorogood were my all time favourite cast in Two Pigeons.I could go on.........Mayerling/Lescaut/Dances at a Gathering.
    Well done David,you deserve every accolade!

  6. Jan Bruce responded on 20 June 2013 at 12:39pm Reply

    David Wall changed my life; I saw him as Colas in 1968 and fell in love with him, and ballet, on the spot. Like Midsman my ballet going started as David Wall's career was taking off and I got to see him in his finest performances until he retired in the 80's. He was just wonderful and no other dancer has ever come close to him for me. I hope that ROH has some archive recordings they can re-issue in his memory so that younger ballet goers can see just how fantastic he was. My condolences go to his family, I'm sure he was as magnificent a person as he was an artist.

  7. Philip Southall responded on 20 June 2013 at 6:26pm Reply

    I am very saddened by the news and send my very warm wishes to his family , friends and former colleagues who are experiencing this great loss , but who , like me and the writers of other comments on this page feel priveleged , inspired and greatly enriched by having known the truly individual and unique presence which the man and the characters he generated in his much loved and adulated body of work. All were (and in my memory remain etched in perpetuity)exceptional and totally justified the promotion to Principal Dancer when David was at the very start of his twenties.I too hope that the archives miight be forthcoming in allowing us to revisit these cherished moments.

  8. Caroline Cawston responded on 22 June 2013 at 10:36am Reply

    Such sad news. My deepest sympathies to David's family and friends, and the wider RB family, especially those with whom he danced in the seventies glory days. Not only was Wells/Wall an immediate draw on any season booking, but so was Park/Wall, Thorogood/Wall, Jenner/Wall. - I could go on. David was such an integral part of what made the RB so special in the seventies, and an integral part of my memories of that decade. A beautiful dancer.

  9. Liz Simpson responded on 28 June 2013 at 6:12pm Reply

    Like several others, David Wall's early career coincided with my return to regular ballet-going and I feel blessed in that. He was the dancer I always looked for - to the extend of sitting through operas when he danced in them, and watching 'Eric Robinson's Music Night (or whatever it was called!) and the BBC for the featured pas-de-deux - that dates me! It was his skill as an actor as well as a dancer which made him stand out for me, in a period of excellent male dancers in the Royal Ballet. I'm just thankful I saw his performances so many times and send my condolences to family and friends.

  10. Bill Woolhouse responded on 5 August 2013 at 7:13pm Reply

    I Started my ballet going in the mid 60s.I can Remember David and Alfreda in Le Deux Pigeons,and Lac,with The Old touring Company.He was always so friendly.My love and condolances to Alfreda and Family.We will place flowers at his statue In millbank.Dance In heaven David.We love and miss you.

  11. Alfreda responded on 23 October 2015 at 12:04pm Reply

    Thank you everyone who wrote such kind and beautiful words about David. I can now bare to read them and really appreciate that he meant so much to so many people. He would have been amazed and absolutely humbled by everyone's reaction. We, our children and grandchildren love him still so very much and I think of him throughout each day. He also handled dying remarkably.

Leave a reply to Juliet Romain · Cancel

Your email will not be published

Website URL is optional