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Steven McRae, Full Throttle

Episode 5

Steven McRae talks about becoming principal at the Royal Ballet, bullying, crippling home sickness, and devastating injuries.

Today I am speaking with Steven McRae, principal dancer with the Royal Ballet, London. Steven grew up in Western Sydney, in a suburb called Plumpton, 45kms West of Sydney. His Dad was a drag car racer, and no one in the family had ever learnt to dance. But somehow, dance found Steven, And at the age of 7, he asked his mum and dad if he could start dance lessons and he enrolled in a local studio around the corner from home. It was a life changing decision. By 17, he had not only won the Genée International Ballet Competition and the Prix de Lausanne, he was standing alone in London having been accepted into the Royal Ballet School—his heartbroken mother on the plane home. In this beautifully candid conversation, Steven talks about his journey to principal at the Royal Ballet by the age of 23—and that, it’s not all as it seems; he speaks about early bullying, crippling home sickness, not always fitting in, and devastating injuries.

But Steven speaks of more than that, he talks about starting his own family with his wife Elizabeth Harrod—also a dancer at the Royal Ballet, his post retirement plans, and the moment he snapped his Achilles tendon live on stage in front of 2,500 people, and how he climbed back from the impossible, to perform with the Royal Ballet once again.

Steven continues to perform as a principal artist with the Royal Ballet, all the while juggling life with his wife Elizabeth and their three children Audrey, Frederick and Rupert. If you’re in London, the Royal Ballet is back on stage, for show times and tickets head to, and to follow all of Steven’s adventures, you can follow him @StevenMcRae_

Steven and I recorded our conversation remotely, with Steven dialling in from London, while the podcast recorded on the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation, to whom we pay our greatest respects.

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  1. Steven McRae. Photograph by Rick Guest, with Olivia Pomp
  2. Steven McRae. Photograph by Rick Guest, with Olivia Pomp
  3. Steven McRae as Prince Rupert in “Mayerling” by Kenneth MacMillan. Photograph by Alice Pennefather
  4. Steven McRae as Oberon in “The Dream” by Frederick Ashton. Photograph by Bill Cooper
  5. Steven McRae and Sarah Lamb in Christopher Wheeldon's “Within the Golden Hour.” Photograph by by Bill Cooper

Claudia Lawson

Claudia Lawson is a dance critic based in Sydney, Australia, writing regularly for ABC Radio National, ABC Arts, and Fjord Review. After graduating with degrees in Law and Forensic Science, Claudia worked as a media lawyer for the ABC, FOXTEL and the BBC in London, where she also co-founded Street Sessions dance company. Returning to Sydney, Claudia studied medicine and now works as a doctor. She is the host of the award-winning Talking Pointes Podcast.


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