The Australian-born principal is part of two new Royal Ballet works coming to Brisbane.

When The Royal Ballet last toured to Australia some 15 years ago, a 17-year old dance student from western Sydney went to see them and was totally enraptured.

“I was a student in Sydney with Hilary Kaplan in 2002 and I remember watching them perform a mixed program of one-act ballets. I was in awe of the dancers and the repertoire, and I knew that The Royal Ballet was where I wanted to go,” recalls Steven McRae, now one of the Company’s star dancers.

The Royal Ballet, The Winter's Tale, Steven McRae Steven McRae in The Royal Ballet’s The Winter’s Tale. Photo © Johan Persson

With a father who was a drag racer and auto electrician, McRae grew up trackside and loved it – he’s still something of a revhead – but he was driven to succeed in the altogether different world of ballet, having discovered the joy of dancing at age seven when he performed in a group  jazz number in a school concert.

In the same year that the Royal Ballet toured here, McRae won the Gold...