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.