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Thursday, June 3, 1999 Published at 10:56 GMT 11:56 UK


Ballet boss steps down

A design for the redeveloped Royal Opera House

Sir Anthony Dowell has announced he will step down as director of the Royal Ballet.

Sir Anthony, who has been at the helm of the Royal Ballet since 1986, will remain until August 2000.

This will allow him to steer the company through its first two seasons at its re-opened base, the Royal Opera House, to begin at the end of the year.

Sir Anthony said of his departure: "I have spent my entire life with the Royal Ballet and the decision about when to leave 'the family' is a momentous one to take.

"Both in deciding on this date and in deciding to announce it now, my paramount consideration is for the best interests of the company."

Sir Anthony joined the Royal Ballet as a dancer in 1961, a role for which he was highly acclaimed. But in recent years as director he had come under fire.

Criticism was levelled at him for his choice of repertoire. And last year he saw six of his leading male dancers leave the company.

'Untold benefits'

But despite these recent problems, Sir Anthony was upbeat about his remaining two years with the Royal Ballet.

And he said he was looking forward to the move to the redeveloped Royal Opera House.

"The fact that all our work, both rehearsals and performances, will be taking place at Covent Garden for the first time will bring untold benefits and possibilities.

"I am confident that I will be able to pass on the best possible inheritance to my successor in two years," he added.

Sir Colin Southgate, chairman of the Royal Opera House praised Sir Anthony's contribution over the years.

"It is typical of Anthony Dowell's concern for the well-being of the Royal Ballet that he has decided to announce his future plans at this time," he said.

Sir Anthony's replacement will probably be announced next year to allow time for the planning of the ballet's 2000-2001 season.

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