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by Raylene Bliss
Sydney Central
Photograph by Erin Byrne
May 28, 2010


BALLET dancer Alexander Campbell has lit up stages across the UK, but it took seven years to get him home for a stint at the Sydney Opera House. Campbell, 23, a Birmingham Royal Ballet first soloist, was in Australia to perform in a guest role as the Prince in The Australian Ballet’s Coppélia.

“It was a wonderful opportunity for my family and friends in Australia to come and see me – some had not seen me dance before,” he said.

Campbell, who was in Australia from April 24 to May 15, was born to dance. His maternal grandparents, who were both ballet dancers, inspired his desire to be a dancer.

“I don’t feel I was pushed into ballet; I believe I had a genuine interest,” Campbell said. “My grandmother, Valma Briggs, and grandfather, Mario Desva, were both in Ballet Rambert (Britain’s flagship contemporary dance company) in London in the 1950s.”

But it was his grandmother who introduced Campbell to Academy Ballet at Randwick. Ms Briggs was a Royal Academy of Dance teacher and examiner, and worked at Academy Ballet where she oversaw her grandson’s career.

[Alexander] won the McDonald Scholarship and was a finalist in the Prix de Lausanne when he was 15.

“I trained at Academy Ballet from the age of five until I went to the Royal Ballet School in London at 16; at 18 I joined the Birmingham Royal Ballet.”

Campbell said the reality TV dance shows and spin-off resurgence in dance was a good thing. “There has been a big revival across all dance formats,” Campbell said. “People now have more of an understanding of what we do as dancers.” The reality stars must master different dance genres and the real world of dance was similarly demanding, Campbell said.

“Ballet dancers have to be adept at doing a lot of different styles. Many of my performances have included elements of gymnastics and contemporary dance, and when I go back to Birmingham I have to tap. You have to be versatile. Mind you, I certainly couldn’t breakdance!”

Campbell encouraged fans of dance to “just try it”. He said the life of a professional dancer was not easy but the rewards were great.

“It’s wonderful to get on stage, to adopt different characters and perform,” he said. “I get a real buzz from being on stage: the movement, the dancing, the performance. I absolutely love it.”


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