Heathcote and Radojevic: the back story

Steven Heathcote’s appointment as the Australian Ballet’s new ballet master and repetiteur, announced this week, reunites the former principal dancer with the company, but it also marks the end of a significant association between the company and Danny (Danilo) Radojevic.

Heathcote is not exactly replacing Radojevic, whose title was ‘associate artistic director’. It seems that the company’s artistic director, David McAllister, will not be appointing anyone else to that position, one that I think was unique to Radojevic.

His elevation to that role came at the same time as Ross Stretton left the Australian Ballet as artistic director and moved to London to take up the role of artistic director of the Royal Ballet in 2001.

The previous year, two of the applicants to replace Stretton at the Australian Ballet were McAllister, then a principal dancer, and Rajojevic, then balletmaster.

Radojevic, a former dancer with the Australian Ballet, had worked with Stretton at American Ballet Theatre, New York, where for a time they were both principal dancers, but in 1997, when Stretton took up the post of artistic director in Australia, Radojevic returned to Australia to become ballet master of the Australian Ballet.

Stretton told me that when he was appointed artistic director of the Royal Ballet, he asked Radojevic to work with him in London. Radojevic considered the offer but chose to stay at home.

It was then that McAllister offered him the position of associate artistic director at the Australian Ballet.

Radojevic will now move to Sydney where his wife, Lucinda Dunn, is taking the reins at one of Sydney’s largest ballet schools, Tanya Pearson’s Classical Coaching Academy.

Last March, when Rajojevic’s decision to quit the AB became public through a newspaper report, I contacted the then senior publicist at the Australian Ballet, Kasey Glazebrook, who has now left the company, to ask how the company would seek a successor.

She told me there was no hurry at all to find a replacement for Radojevic as he was not leaving until August. Glazebrook was unable to say if there would ever be a search for a new associate artistic director.

It’s now clear that there was no need for a search at all, as Plan A was already in motion to bring Heathcote back to the company.

Radojevic and Heathcote are vitally important members of the ballet community in Australia.

I’m sorry to see Radojevic retire from the company but also very pleased that the much admired Heathcote, possibly the most loved principal artist ever in the company, has at last found a place in the management of the Australian Ballet.

2 Comments

  1. Helmarri Anziliero
    Posted May 11, 2016 at 2:00 am | Permalink

    I have been following Danilo since the 1970s. His mum had a small beautiful boutique in Summer Hill next door to where my dad owned a mechanic workshop and I used to walk past everyday on my way to the station to go to high school. I was going to RAD ballet classes and I went to see him in every ballet I could. i was so proud of him when he went overseas to New York and have kept up with what he is doing ever since. Wishing him a wonderful future.

  2. valerie
    Posted May 11, 2016 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for this lovely memory, Helmarri. I saw Danilo not along ago at the Sydney Opera House. Next time I see him I’ll tell him about your message

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Danilo Radojevic in Superboy, Australian Ballet, 1977, Arts Centre Melbourne, Performing Arts Collection

Danilo Radojevic in Superboy, Australian Ballet, 1977, Arts Centre Melbourne, Performing Arts Collection

Simone Goldsmith and Steven Heathcote in Graeme Murphy's Swan Lake, Australian Ballet, photo © Jeff Busby

Simone Goldsmith and Steven Heathcote in Graeme Murphy’s Swan Lake, Australian Ballet, photo © Jeff Busby