Ballet star Alexander Grant dies aged 86

Alexander Grant in Frederick Ashton's ballet, Daphnis and Chloe at the Royal Opera House in 1951 Alexander Grant was best known for his character roles

Former Royal Ballet dancer Alexander Grant, who co-founded Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet, has died aged 86.

He was also artistic director of the National Ballet of Canada from 1976 to 1983.

"Alexander Grant's death is a great loss to the Royal Ballet, in whose history he holds a unique place," Monica Mason, director of the Royal Ballet, told The Stage newspaper.

The dancer, renowned for his character roles, died in London on Friday.

He had been ill for eight months after a hip operation left him hospitalised with infections and pneumonia.

During his career, he was closely associated with Ecuadoran-born choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton, the founder choreographer of The Royal Ballet.

One his most notable roles was the one he created for himself in Ashton's La Fille Mal Gardee.

He played Alain, a rich farmer's son whose deliberately "clumsy" dancing portrayed a naive and childlike character.

Ms Mason said the Royal Ballet had "welcomed him back regularly as the custodian of La Fille Mal Gardee" over the years.

The company plan to revive the ballet next year and dedicate the show to his memory, she added.

The artistic director of Canada's National Ballet, Karen Kain, described Grant as a "charming, humorous and sympathetic person".

Born in New Zealand, Grant began studying ballet aged seven, and was eventually offered a scholarship in London.

In 1946 he joined the Royal Ballet, where he danced for 30 years, appearing in 30 Ashton ballets.

He went on to work as a coach and character dancer with the English National Ballet.

Memorable roles included The Dandy in Leonide Massine's The Three-Cornered Hat; The Jester in Ashton's Cinderella; and Eros in Sylvia.

In 1965, Grant was made a Commander of the British Empire in recognition of his contribution to dance.

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