Ballet Confidential

A personal behind-the-scenes guide


It’s not all tutus and tiaras: an in-depth look into the gritty and transformative world of ballet.


ISBN: 9781760763251 Category:

David McAllister


“Ballet Confidential is not a no-holds-barred expose but rather a joyfully led and personal guide into the world of ballet.”–Megan O’Brien, Books+Publishing

Beyond the formidable combination of tulle and lycra, how much can an audience ever truly understand about the demands of being a ballet dancer? What really is the pain and pleasure of pointe shoes and jockstraps? Can a wardrobe malfunction derail a scene? What happens when injury sidelines a principal dancer mid-show?

Here is your tell-all guide, an all-access pass for ballet lovers and the ballet-curious by internationally acclaimed dancer and former artistic director of The Australian Ballet, David McAllister.

From toe acting, to the perils of partnering and onstage/offstage romances, David answers in intimate detail everything you have ever wanted to know about ballet but were too afraid to ask.

‘One of the most celebrated artists of our time lifts the curtain on ballet’s intoxicating pursuit of perfection. What a brilliant book! Filled with insider knowledge for the ballet lover or the newcomer, you will be whipping through the pages wanting to hear more of David’s wisdom and humour behind bringing the art of ballet to life.’ – Sarah Murdoch

‘Nijinsky did WHAT with a scarf? Who dared call Anna Pavlova ‘the broom’? Dancers stuff Chux Superwipes WHERE? For those of us who love the ballet but are too scared to ask the silly questions – David is our friend. Let him take you behind the velvet scrim for a pas de deus into ballet paradise.’ – Catriona Rowntree

*Ebook available through all major etailers*

Additional information

Weight 328 g
Dimensions 15.3 x 23.2 cm
Publisher name Thames & Hudson Australia Pty Ltd
Publication date 25 July 2023
Number of pages 256
Format Paperback / softback
Dimensions 15.3 x 23.2 cm
Weight 328 g


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Born in Perth, David McAllister joined The Australian Ballet in 1983 and was promoted to principal artist in 1989. During his time with the company, he danced many principal roles, including those in The Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, Coppélia, Manon, La Sylphide, John Cranko's Onegin and Romeo and Juliet. In 1985 he won Bronze at the Fifth International Ballet Competition in Moscow. Throughout his career, David made numerous guest appearances worldwide, dancing with Bolshoi Ballet, the Kirov Ballet, the State Ballet of Georgia, The National Ballet of Canada, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Singapore Dance Theatre and, in 1992, as part of a Royal Gala performance in London in the presence of the Princess of Wales. In 2000, he completed a Graduate Diploma in Arts and Entertainment Management and in 2001, took his final bow as a dancer. In July of that year, David became artistic director of The Australian Ballet. He was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2004 Australia Day Honours List and was invited to become a Vice President of the Royal Academy of Dance. In 2015, David premiered a new production of The Sleeping Beauty for The Australian Ballet. After two decades at the head of The Australian Ballet, at the end of 2020 David embarked on a new freelance career, co-authoring a memoir with Amanda Dunn titled Soar and creating a new production of Swan Lake for the Finnish National Ballet. In 2021 he was awarded a Companion of the Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday's Honours list. He has also received the Queen's Coronation Medal from the Royal Academy of Dance and the J.C. Williamson Award from Live Performance Australia.