Donald Macleary (published 2013)

Dublin Core


Donald Macleary (published 2013)


MacLeary reflects on the important influences on his career as a dancer and his experience as Ballet Master after he has retired from dancing. He discusses the importance of storytelling in dance. He cites the Shakespearean actor Robert Helpmann's performance of Hamlet as an early inspiration in the art of storytelling as the goal of the performer. MacLeary also discusses the distraction of costumes for the dancer, and the importance of always being relaxed and focused in one’s role. He also discusses his transition out of dancing, due to an Achilles injury, into his role as ballet master at the Royal Ballet.

Biographical note:

Donald MacLeary was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1937. Beginning in 1950, he trained with Sheila Ross, and joined Sadler’s Wells Theatre Ballet School in 1954. In 1959, at the request of his Swan Lake partner Svetlana Beriosova, he became principal dancer with the Royal Ballet. During his time at the Royal Ballet he created roles in Cranko's The Angels (1957), Antigone (1959), and Brandenburg 2&4 (1966), and in MacMillan's Solitaire (1956), The Burrow (1958), Baiser de la fée (1960), Diversions (1961), Symphony (1963), Images of Love (1964), Checkpoint (1970), The Poltroon (1972), and Elite Syncopations (1974). He retired in 1975 and became the master of the Royal Ballet in 1976, a position he held until 1979. He was repetiteur to principal dancers beginning in 1984.


Pratt SILS LIS-665, Barbara Newman

Date Created

May 23, 2008



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Is Part Of

Newman, B. (2013). Never Far from Dancing: Ballet Artists in New Roles. London: Routledge.


Donald Macleary 2008.mp3


Interview recorded on MiniDisc by Barbara Newman

Rights Holder

Barbara Newman, Donald Macleary

Oral History Item Type Metadata

Original Format


Digital Format


Digital Master




Bit Rate/Frequency

128 kbps/44.1 kHz


Barbara Newman


Donald MacLeary, 1937-


London, UK



“Donald Macleary (published 2013),” Dance Dialogues: Interviews by Barbara Newman, 1979-Present, accessed May 17, 2022,

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