The dance world has been deeply saddened by the loss of Ross Stretton, who died in his hometown of Melbourne, Australia, on June 16, from melanoma, a skin cancer. He was 53. Stretton began his career as a dancer: first with the Australian Ballet from 1973 to 1978, the Joffrey Ballet (1979) in New York, and then American Ballet Theatre (from 1980), having been invited to join by its then director, Mikhail Baryshnikov. In 1993 he was appointed assistant to the director of that company (by then Kevin McKenzie).
In 1997 he was appointed artistic director of the Australian Ballet.
Passionately convinced of classical ballet‘s endurance as a modern art form, he set about modernising the company‘s repertoire and image, promoting the dancers as athletic and sexy beings, and emphasising “creativity, energy and passion“ as the company's new hallmarks. In September 2001 he was appointed artistic director of the Royal Ballet in London, chosen by a board “impressed with his success in broadening the appeal of ballet in Australia.“ His tenure was cut short, however, when he resigned unexpectedly after just over a year in the job, amid rumours of clashes with the board and a questionable management ...