Alexander Grant, beloved dancer and former artistic director of The National Ballet of Canada, died in London on Friday, September 30th at the age of 86. Grant had been ill for eight months following a hip surgery that resulted in infections and pneumonia. The dynamic performer will be fondly remembered for his roles in ballets such as Frederick Ashton’s La Fille mal gardée, as well as his influential presence in the international ballet scene. His classical technique and interpretation of demi-character roles distinguished him as an outstanding performer, “one of the few great, as opposed to merely magnificent, dancers of our time” according to New York Times dance critic Clive Barnes. Born in New Zealand in 1925, Grant began his dance training at the age of seven. He was quickly offered a ballet scholarship in London where he went on to perform with the Royal Ballet for thirty years. He was artistic director of The National Ballet of Canada from 1976 through 1983 and brought several Ashton ballets into the repertoire including La Fille, Monotones, Les Patineurs, The Dream and Two Pigeons. He was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award from the Royal Academy of Dance in London, as well as the 2009 De Valois award for outstanding achievement in dance.
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