David McAllister AM



Graduate Diploma of Arts and Entertainment Management


Off-campus (now known as Cloud Campus)

Graduation year


Deakin Alumni of the Year Award


Current position

Artistic Director, The Australian Ballet


Internationally applauded dancer and artistic director David McAllister AM has spent more than 30 years with The Australian Ballet.

He completed his Graduate Diploma of Arts and Entertainment Management at Deakin while dancing full time with The Australian Ballet and touring extensively nationally and internationally.

Career path and highlights

David joined The Australian Ballet, the nation's flagship dance company, in 1983, and rapidly became an audience favourite. As a principal artist, he danced lead roles in Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, Romeo and Juliet, Madame Butterfly and Giselle, among others. In 2001 he became Artistic Director, steering the company to further acclaim on the world stage. 

In 2004 David was awarded an Order of Australia for his service to performing arts. He is the longest serving artistic director in the company’s history and continues to push artistic boundaries, having recently produced his first ballet as a choreographer.

David McAllister: 30 years with The Australian Ballet

David McAllister: 30 years with The Australian Ballet

In 2013, Artistic Director David McAllister celebrated his 30 year anniversary with The Australian Ballet. Here, he reflects on his journey from an exuberant young dancer to leader of the nation's flagship dance company.

Interview with David McAllister

I studied...
In 1999 and 2000 while I was still dancing full time with The Australian Ballet.

I'm currently...
The Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet.

I chose Deakin because...
It offered a really interesting and highly recommended course in arts and entertainment management and I could do the study off-campus while still working full time and touring both nationally and internationally.

After leaving Deakin I...
Was appointed Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet – a position I felt more prepared to apply for having undertaken the study.

Looking back, I wish...
I had begun to study earlier in my dancing career.

At university, I was inspired...
By the wonderful facilities available to the students, especially the off-campus students like myself. Also, the ability to discover a deeper understanding of the arts industry from a completely different point of view.

Today, I am motivated by...
My fellow workers in all areas of the organisation. It is wonderful to have such talented people not only on stage but also in every department.

In my profession it is important...
To be able to listen as well as instruct, inspire rather than impose, and communicate rather than command.

Professionally, my proudest achievement has been...
To live my dream both as a dancer and now to help other dancers reach for the stars.

Success to me is...
Knowing I have done my best no matter the outcome and inspiring those around me to achieve their best.

In the future I'd like to...
See the arts, and especially dance, as a central part of our Australian way of life and for the arts to be recognised for the important role it plays in our daily lives.

The single-most important issue in the world is...
Living together in harmony as a human race and in balance with our environment.