A sad farewell to Icon Alexander Grant — 05.10.11

On Saturday, 1 October, the Arts Foundation learnt of the sad news that Arts Foundation Icon Artist Alexander Grant (ballet dancer) had passed away.

Some commentators called Alexander Grant the greatest male dancer ever produced by a British company - an outstanding accomplishment for a New Zealander born in Wellington in 1925.  He began dancing classes at the age of seven and eventually won a Royal Academy of Dance scholarship to study in London.  However, the war intervened and he was 21 before he was able to travel to England.   Within two months of arriving in England, Alexander joined the newly formed Sadlers Wells Theatre Ballet and after only two weeks of his first tour, he was recalled to Covent Garden to join the main company.

Alexander's name conjures up spectacular dancing and the wonderful range of characters he brought to life.  In recognition of his services to ballet, Queen Elizabeth II made him a Commander of the British Empire in 1965. He received the QEII Coronation Award, the highest Award given by the Royal Academy of Dance, for his services to dance in 2007 and was the recipient of De Valois Award for Outstanding Achievement at the Critics Circle National Dance Awards 2009. 

Alexander continued to work with ballet companies in Europe, America, China, Turkey, Russia and Japan well into his 80s, with the staging of the productions of La Fille Mal Gardee, which toured in 2010.

Russell Kerr accepted Alexander Grant's Arts Foundation Icon Award on his behalf in 2005 at a ceremony in Wellington.  Alexander was subsequently honoured at a presentation at New Zealand House, London, with New Zealand's High Commissioner Jonathan Hunt.  A number of Arts Foundation staff, trustees, governors, patrons and award recipients were able to be attend the occasion to celebrate the Award with Alexander.

The Arts Foundation offers its condolences to Alexander's longtime companion Jean-Pierre Gasquet and his family, friends and the ballet community.

View The Times obituary here