When did you start dancing?
I was nearly 16. Late… I never had any intention of becoming a ballet dancer.
Why did you start dancing?
So that I could play the Artful Dodger in a local production of the musical Oliver.
When did you start choreographing?
Shortly after I starting dancing, I choreographed a terrible dance to a song called Sugar Sugar for my sister's secretarial college's Christmas party!!! Not much of a hint of things to come….
Why did you start choreographing?
Because I felt the urge to be more expressive than just through dancing myself. I was encouraged by De Valois, MacMillan, Ashton and the wonderful Leslie Edwards which helped one's confidence.
Which dancer inspired you most as a child?
Which dancer do you most admire?
Difficult this question, impossible to answer, there are so many… But at the top I suppose, for me, there are two: Sibley and Dowell.. It's a generational thing.
What's your favourite role?
Anything by MacMillan but probably Crown Prince Rudolf in Mayerling. A physical and emotional marathon; draining in every way.
What role have you never played but would like to?
Carabosse in The Sleeping Beauty. I feel I have the temperament for it… I know some people who would agree with that!!!
What's your favourite ballet to watch?
One that isn't too long. I think most ballets are too long nowadays… especially nowadays! When I read it says ‘in four acts' I almost stay away, and often wish I had!
Who is your favourite choreographer?
Films? Fred Astaire. Stage? It has to be MacMillan.
Who is your favourite writer?
Alive: William Boyd. Dead: Dickens.
Who is your favourite director?
Cinema: Pedro Almadovar. Stage: Nick Hytner.
Who is your favourite actor?
Who is your favourite singer?
Opera: Jonas Kaufmann — for his vocal range,of course! — and Callas. Easy listening? It has to be Miss Streisand. But then there is Piaf, Whitney, Adele, Nina, Ella etc… Sinatra and Elvis!
What is your favourite book?
At the moment, anything from the two writers above!
What is your favourite film?
I have about ten so I can't really answer this one.
Which is your favourite city?
What do you like most about yourself?
What do you dislike about yourself?
Driving everyone mad about the ‘importance' of musicality. Most dancers today are deaf, and so are their teachers…!!!
What was your proudest moment?
Artistically it would have to be watching 12,000 people a night watching my arena production of Swan Lake in the Rod Laver tennis arena in Melbourne. Or completing the Times cryptic crossword. I'm not sure!
When and where were you happiest?
Another difficult question to answer as I've never really been happy.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
As if I'd tell you!!!
What is your greatest fear?
Running out of olive oil and garlic.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
My hips… but then I changed those last year!!!!!
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Surviving times with dancers whose egos were far greater than their talents.
What is your most treasured possession?
My father's watch.
What is your greatest extravagance?
My home in the South of France; 7 years to renovate! Ouch!!!
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
On what occasion do you lie?
When I'm talking about my weight!
If you hadn't been a dancer and choreographer what would you have liked to be?
A painter with the talent of Caravaggio, but sadly I can't paint. Except for walls…
What is your most marked characteristic?
A great sense of humour! I've really needed it.
What quality do you most value in a friend?
Honesty I suppose.
What quality do you most value in a colleague?
Vision, musicality and hard work — plain and simple.
Which historical figure do you most admire?
Which living person do you most admire?
It would have to be ‘persons': all the aid workers around the world — they are awesome.
What do you most dislike?
Suffering from depression.
What talent would you most like to have?
The talent to be able to become invisible. That would be useful!!!
What's your idea of perfect happiness?
I don't see the point of having an idea about something if it doesn't exist.
How would you like to die?
With a Cosmopolitan in each hand, on a sun bed, under an umbrella, with my feet in the sea in the Maldives!
What is your motto?
Derek Deane – a biography
Derek Deane trained at the Royal Ballet School from 1970 to 1972. He joined The Royal Ballet in 1972 and was promoted to Soloist in 1977, to Principal Dancer in 1980 and to Senior Principal Dancer in 1982.
His repertoire included: Prince in Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty; Romeo, Benvolio and Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet; Prince Rudolf in Mayerling; and other roles in ballets by MacMillan, Ashton, Balanchine, Ro
Ballets created for the Royal Ballet and the Birmingham Royal Ballet include Chanson, Impromptu, Flee
Deane joined the Teatro dell'Opera in Rome in 1990 as resident choreographer and Assistant to the Direction.
In 1993 he became Artistic Director of English National Ballet. Ballets created for English National Ballet include Giselle, Alice in Wonderland, Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, Paquita, Strictly Gershwin, Romeo and Juliet, and The Nutcracker. He also devised the hugely successful “In the round” productions for the Royal Albert Hall which include Swan Lake (seen by over 500,000 people worldwide), The Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet and Strictly Gershwin.
Ballets performed by international companies include Coppélia (Teatro La Scala, Milan), La Bayadère, Giselle, The Nutcracker (Teatro San Carlo Naples, Kobyashi Ballet Tokyo), Cinderella (National Ballet of Croatia, Teatro dell'Opera di Roma), Swan Lake, The Nutcracker (Shanghai National Ballet, National Ballet of Croatia), Romeo and Juliet (Shanghai National Ballet), The Sleeping Beauty, The Lady of the Camellias, Paquita (National Ballet of Croatia), Hungry Heart, Simple Simon, Anything Goes, Alice in Wonderland (Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre).
Deane has been featured in various TV documentaries including Princess Diana, Her Life; Diana, Her true Story; Boss Diaries — A year in the life of an Artistic Director; Agony and Ecstasy — The making of Swan Lake.
2016 sees a new creation for the Shanghai National Ballet of Hamlet as well as Strictly Gershwin (Queensland Ballet), Swan Lake (English National Ballet), The Lady of the Camellias (Teatro San Carlo Naples).
He has been nominated for 2 Laurence Olivier awards and was awarded the OBE in Her Majesty The Queen's New Years honours list in 2000.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.