8 The Royal Ballet will be performing at the Labatt's Apollo, Hammersmith, till 18 October. Box Office: 0171 304 4000 or 0171 416 6082Reuse content
The stamps in Sir Anthony Dowell's passport chart his long career with the Royal Ballet. Having joined the company in 1961, his first trip was to Russia in 1962. "We were very much kept as a herd in buses," he recalls, "and all ate at big tables in the restaurant. In those days there was a very strong hierarchical system in the company, one didn't say boo to a goose as it were, and there I was plonked among big stars like Margot Fonteyn, and I was just a student. It was a bit daunting." Sir Anthony soon rose through the ranks and was made a principal dancer in 1966. He went on to tour all over the world. He says: "In the Sixties travel was still quite an occasion. It's rather a pity travel has become the norm." A stamp for China reminds him of a tour he made in the Eighties. "It was fascinating to perform to the Chinese audience because you could have heard a pin drop, such was the intense attention level and interest that they had for us." Since September 1986, Sir Anthony has been Director of the Royal Ballet, but he still tours. "I always go with the company, and sometimes I travel to see another company." In fact such is the extent of his work travel, that when he gets time off he chooses to stay at home. He says: "This year I went to California and Japan with the company, then we came back for two weeks of rehearsal and the Opera House's closing performance, and immediately got on a flight to New York for a two-week season. After that I really didn't want to see a suitcase again, so stayed put at home." That said, he glances wistfully at several stamps in his passport which remind him of his "holiday of a lifetime". "My most exotic journey was all the way to Bora-Bora in the South Pacific 10 years ago. I took the QE2 to New York, then flew to LA, to Tahiti, and on to Bora- Bora. I stayed at the Hotel Bora-Bora which has wonderful palm-thatched chalets on stilts over the reef. It was a magical place, just like the movie South Pacific."