Portrait of a Dancer: Steven McRae | The English Channel

Portrait of a Dancer: Steven McRae


As an engine revs and smoke billows out from behind a spinning tire, Royal Ballet Principal dancer Steven McRae draws parallels between his two passions, dance and motor racing.

The two activities may seem polar opposites, but as McRae points out they share elements of precision, danger and adrenaline. Growing up in the suburbs of Sydney, minutes away from the Eastern Creek International Raceway, he spent many childhood days watching his drag racer father burn rubber round the circuit. 

An interest in dance followed at the age of seven when McRae saw his older sister’s lessons, and in 2003 he joined The Royal Ballet School in London after winning the Prix de Lausanne scholarship. He became Principal dancer in 2009, performing in Swan Lake, The Nutcracker and The Rite of Spring.

Although dance has claimed McRae for now, his personal heroes still hail from the adrenaline-heavy world of motor sports, and he says he finds inspiration in the single-mindedness of 16-time world champion John Force.