Here is todays Australian Ballet news release - it has some wonderful quotes. I hope it is all fine - breaking the text out of the original pdf has not been straightforward for some unknown reason.
Australian Ballet Press Release
16 June 2005
Ross Stretton 1952 - 2005
Creativity, Energy and Passion
One of the world's most important ballet figures, former Artistic Director and Principal Artist Ross Stretton passed away today in Melbourne after a long battle with the disease Melanoma. He was 53.
David McAllister, Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet said, "I was lucky enough to dance as a Principal Artist under Ross and had the most exciting and stimulating end to my career. Folowing him as Artistic Director I inherited a company that was talented, versatile and passionate about the art form. His time at The Australian Balet was a fertile and creative one as he brought the company and its dancers bounding into the 21st century. Thank you Ross."
Both Ross Stretton's directorships at The Royal Ballet (2001-02)and The Australian Ballet (1997-2001) were marked by his strong belief in ballet as an exciting contemporary art form. His uncompromising determination to present both classical and contemporary works with integrity and passionate commitment inspired his dancers to produce performances of outstanding physicality and artistry.
His distinctive style can be described in his own words about The Australian Ballet, in a desire to have the company show "creativity, energy and passion". He wanted audiences to have their hearts and minds touched, that they had been overwhelmed by the physicality of this wonderful art form. He wanted a company which centred on creativity - creativity in the choreography, the dancing, the music, and all the production elements.
Teacher, long-time friend and Assistant, Janet Karin said today, "Ross loved dance, he devoted his life to it. As a teenager he bounded across the studio, hair flying, intoxicated with the pleasure of moving. As a performer he was inspired by poetry, music and visual art and the achievements of those around him. As an Artistic Director Ross believed that dance should be passionate, exciting, challenging and inspiring; that it should make a difference to people's lives. He would fight for the best because he thought dance and dancers were worth it."
Ross Stretton was born in Canberra where he first developed his talent as a tap-dancer. After discovering ballet at the age of 17he trained with Janet Karin and Bryan Lawrence in Canberra, and later at The Australian Ballet School. On graduation he joined the Corps de Ballet of The Australian Ballet and two years later he was promoted to Soloist. In 1976, he became a Principal Artist, dancing the leading roles in all the classical ballets in the repertoire and also creating roles in many contemporary works.
While Sir Robert Helpmann was Artistic Director of the company, he awarded Ross Stretton a scholarship to study in New York for three months. Inspired by the challenges and excitement of this experience, Ross Stretton moved to the United States in 1979 and joined The Joffrey Ballet in New York. Mikhail Baryshnikov invited him to dance as a guest artist in American Ballet Theatre's 1980-81 season, and then asked him to join American Ballet Theatre permanently.
As a Principal Artist with American Ballet Theatre, Ross Stretton again danced leading roles in all the classics. He also performed in a wide range of contemporary works and in new works by international choreographers. During his time with American Ballet Theatre he also toured internationally with Baryshnikov and Company for many years and appeared extensively as a guest artist in other companies in America and abroad.
On retiring from dancing in May 1990 Ross Stretton was invited to take the position of Assistant to the Directors of American Ballet Theatre. He was made Regisseur of the company in September 1991 and Assistant Director from 1993. Ross Stretton also founded New York Dancers, presenting concert performances by stars of American Ballet Theatre.
After a world-wide search, Ross Stretton was appointed Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet from January 1997. He enriched the company's repertoire with notable works from a range of leading choreographers such as Jiri Kylian, William Forsythe, Nacho Duato and Twyla Tharp, and stimulated a new interest in triple bill programmes. He also held the position of Artistic Director of The Dancers Company.
In September 2001 Ross Stretton commenced as Director of The Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London. As in Australia, he inspired the dancers with a challenging repertoire from innovative choreographers. He resigned from The Royal Ballet in October 2002 and retired to Australia.
Ross is survived by former wife Valmai Roberts and their three children Luke, Adam and Kyra.
The family will hold a private funeral. A memorial service to celebrate his life will be held at the State Theatre in the Arts Centre, Melbourne later this year.
"These people are all extraordinary human beings; they love art and they dedicated their lives to developing their own art form. They all have creativity, abundant energy and highly developed human qualities. They are honest, intelligent and passionate people who have taken control of their own destinies."
Ross Stretton on The Australian Ballet dancers
"One of the greatest gifts an Artistic Director can give to his dancers is a repertoire which challenges them, moves them, inspires them and thus allows them to grow both technically and artistically. As Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet, Ross Stretton bestowed many of these gifts on his dancers.
Ross was instrumental in forging closer ties with other leading Australian arts companies and festivals. This,coupled with his vision to continue bringing the work of the best international and Australian choreographers in to the repertoire, served to strengthen not only The Australian Balet's identity but its international standing.
He will be remembered well here."
Principal Artists of the Australian Ballet.