David Wall, the first Lescaut and Rudolf

David Wall, one of the Royal Ballet’s most acclaimed principal dancers, has died at the age of 67.

Born in Chiswick, London, Wall trained at the Royal Ballet School and in 1963, on graduation, joined the touring company of the Royal Ballet under the direction of John Field. One year later he was promoted to the rank of soloist and then in 1966, he became a principal.

On tour throughout the UK, he partnered Doreen Wells, and they both danced in Frederick Ashton’s Sinfonietta and The Creatures of Prometheus, among many other roles.

In 1970, Wall joined the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden where he frequently partnered Margot Fonteyn.

Among the roles he created were Lescaut in Manon (1974) and Rudolf in Mayerling (1978), both choreographed by Kenneth MacMillan.

In her biography of MacMillan, Jann Parry recalled why the choreographer wanted Wall to portray Rudolf, who was “a great womaniser”.

Macmillan thought that Wall had “great sex appeal. You believe that women would be fascinated by him”.

Parry wrote that MacMillan “pushed Wall beyond what he thought he could do, to the point where Wall reckons Mayerling took five years off his performing life”.

Wall retired as a dancer in 1984 and became director of the Royal Academy of Dance and then ballet master of English National Ballet.

He died of cancer yesterday (June 18) and is survived by his wife and two children.

One Comment

  1. Lee Christofis
    Posted July 2, 2013 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    This is very sad news. I saw Wall dance quite a lot and always found him intelligent, clear in execution and intention in both narrative and abstract ballets. And what a great partner, especially when he had to replace Anthony Dowell in one year, probably 1978, when Dowell had a back injury. Wall was such a great all rounder too, and humble, or do he seemed to me.

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David Wall, Ninette de Valois, Merle Park, Sleeping Beauty, Royal Ballet, 1977, photo © Reg Wilson

David Wall, Ninette de Valois, Merle Park, Sleeping Beauty, Royal Ballet, 1977, photo © Reg Wilson

Lynn Seymour and David Wall in Mayerling, Royal Ballet, 1978, photo © Leslie E. Spatt

Lynn Seymour and David Wall in Mayerling, Royal Ballet, 1978, photo © Leslie E. Spatt

Lynn Seymour and David Wall in Voluntaries, Royal Ballet, 1976, photo  © Leslie E. Spatt

Lynn Seymour and David Wall in Voluntaries, Royal Ballet, 1976, photo © Leslie E. Spatt