Brett Chynoweth rehearsing The Sleeping Beauty © Kate Longley

Brett Chynoweth

On learning about the depths and facets within himself.

The Principal artist of The Australian Ballet discusses his childhood memories, his roles and his artistic personality. And now that he has found his voice in the world of ballet, he reveals why he loves the prince roles, why playing a villain has a different appeal and why dancing can be an isolating experience

 by Alessandro Bizzotto

Brett Chynoweth as Lescaut in Manon © The Australian Ballet


Depending on the light and the angle, Brett Chynoweth can look like a prince or a sharp-eyed villain. Maybe this is one of the secrets of his success. The Melbourne-born Principal was trained also in Toronto and in New York before graduating from the Australian Ballet School with honours and joining the company.

Today he is a very eclectic artist who performed works by Kylián, Ratmansky, Ashton, Wheeldon, McGregor and MacMillan among many others. He began his ballet training at a local school in Australia while being very young – five years old.

Brett Chynoweth in Tchaikovsky Pas De Deux with Benedicte Bemet © Daniel Boud

How was it? Did you have fun, or was it tough?

I started at five because my brother had begun dancing at a local school. I was at an age where I copied everything he did! I enjoyed learning various styles of dance and was hooked by the movement and connection to music. Only a few years passed before I was auditioning for The Australian Ballet School so I could take dance from just recreational to the next level. It was very fun for me, I couldn’t wait for ballet days to come around. Now, as someone who has been dancing for decades – I try to retain the essence of why we dance, the enjoyment of moving and communicating through our bodies. It is too difficult if there’s no enjoyment.

Brett Chynoweth in The Four Temperaments © Daniel Boud

Your fondest memories of the school years.

I am grateful to The Australian Ballet School for my time as a student. In my personal experience, it was a refuge from the bullying I was receiving at regular school. Ballet school was a creative outlet and the space for me to learn how to best position myself for the future. With a focus on extending my capacity, the School afforded me the opportunity to travel overseas and across the continent. Particularly fond memories were when I got to go on exchange to The School of American Ballet and The National Ballet School of Canada. To see how people on the other side of the world train and move and think was incredibly exciting and build important skills that I would need later in my career. Performing in theaters across Australia was such an important learning opportunity as well. The Australian Ballet School with the Company have a regional tour of Australia each year. This built my understanding and respect for everything (people and building power) that makes theatres magical spaces. Plus I have been able to see so many rural and regional parts of this vast and incredible continent which I am forever grateful for…