David McAllister. Pic Chris Pavlich
Liz Toohey and David McAllister. Pic Chris Pavlich

At a gala lunch held today attended by hundreds of ballet lovers, David McAllister AM,  the immediate past Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet, was surprised when the event  took a turn and became “David McAllister This Is Your Life”. The lunch entitled  “Celebrating David McAllister AM with a little help from his Friends” was a joyous  occasion with many surprise guests.  

David McAllister This Is Your Life was hosted by Elizabeth Toohey, currently Ballet  Mistress of The Australian Ballet and long-term dance partner and close personal friend.  Elizabeth surprised David with the following guests either in person or by video who  recounted stories from David’s career. They included Don McAllister (David’s father) and  Dianne Morris (David’s sister); Wesley Enoch AM (David’s partner and outgoing Director  of the Sydney Festival); Graeme Murphy AO and Janet Vernon AM; Maina Gielgud AO;  past General Managers of The Australian Ballet Ian McRae AO and Richard Evans; and  Darren Spowart (an ex-dancer of The Australian Ballet and childhood friend of David).  

The big surprise of the event was the presentation to David of the Queen Elizabeth II  Coronation Award, recognised internationally as one of the most sought-after in the  world of dance and the highest honour from the Royal Academy of Dance. Past  recipients of the Award include Sir Frederick Ashton, Dame Marie Rambert DBE, Rudolf  Nureyev, Dame Gillian Lynne DBE, Sir Peter Wright CBE, Sir Matthew Bourne OBE,  Maina Gielgud AO and Carlos Acosta CBE. The Award administered by the Royal  Academy of Dance was presented by Dame Darcey Bussell DBE and Audrey Nicholls  OAM FRAD on behalf of the Royal Academy of Dance. Dame Darcey said “I am  absolutely thrilled that David is receiving the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award, the  highest honour the Royal Academy of Dance can bestow, given in recognition of  outstanding service to the art of dance.” 

The lunch was planned as a fundraising event for The David McAllister Fund. The Australian  Ballet established The David McAllister Fund to recognise and celebrate the extraordinary  career of David McAllister. David has generously donated to the company for many years;  this gave him the freedom to invest in the people around him and make special projects  possible. The vision is that The David McAllister Fund will give future artistic directors of  The Australian Ballet the same opportunities. 

Organised by the Friends of the Australian Ballet (NSW), this not-for-profit organisation  has been connecting members and inspiring ballet audiences for almost 50 years with a  goal to make ballet accessible, inviting and inclusive.  

Royal Academy of Dance (RAD), established in 1920 to improve standards and re invigorate dance training, is one of the most influential dance education and training  organisations in the world with a strong global membership in 85 countries, with around a  quarter of a million pupils per year going on to take RAD exams.  

David McAllister and his memoir, ‘Soar’.

David McAllister’s memoir ‘Soar’ is a hit and can be purchased online or through leading bookstores.

Featured image ; David McAllister AM with his long time dance partner Liz Toohey and the new Artist director of the Australian Ballet David Hallberg. Picture Chris Pavlich


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