Ballet dancer David Wall dies of cancer aged 67

He was the Royal Ballet's youngest male principal at 21 and danced with Dame Margot Fonteyn

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The Independent Culture

Dancer David Wall, famous for being the youngest principal male ballet dancer in the history of the Royal Ballet, has died of cancer aged 67.

Wall, who was a regular partner to Dame Margot Fonteyn (1919 - 1991), became the Royal Ballet’s youngest principal aged 21 in 1966, having joined the touring company just three years earlier.

He died at his home in Croydon, South London yesterday.

His dance career started at school in Windsor where ballroom dancing was compulsory. Spotting his talent, Wall’s teacher suggested to his mother that the then five-year-old should attend ballet lessons.

Aged 10 he was sent for an audition with the Royal Ballet School and was accepted.

After spending seven years with the Royal Ballet Touring Company Wall joined the main company at Covent Garden in 1970. Having been made a principal when he was 19 at the smaller touring company, the transition to Covent Garden as a leading dancer was “difficult”.

In an interview with Ballet Magazine in 2005, Wall said: “It was a difficult change. I'd been a Principal since I was 19 or 20, but leading a much smaller company. “

“Here, I felt I had to prove myself all over again. I was performing less frequently, and I had a change of repertoire. But I was fortunate to have good support from my wife [Alfreda Thorogood], who was also in the company.”

Having retired in 1984, Wall became associate director and later director of the Royal Academy. A decade later he joined the English National Ballet as ballet master.

There is a statue of Wall on London's South Bank.

Tributes have been paid to Wall since news of his death broke. Speaking to the BBC his friend Christopher Price described him as “a great dancer and artist”.

"It has been an honour to know him and he has brought the world and his family so much joy and happiness during his lifetime," he said.

Writing on Twitter English National Ballet Director and dancer Tamara Rojo wrote:  “Yesterday, we dedicated our performance of Swan Lake to the memory of David Wall, great artist, maestro and friend”.

Ballet master and principal character artist at the Royal Ballet and Royal Opera House Gary Avis wrote: “With admiration, gratitude and respect I thank you David Wall for being a friend, mentor and gentleman! #legend”