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Obituary: Alexander Morrow

Alexander Morrow

Alex Morrow could easily have been described as the original Billy Elliot. Born in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, on February 19, 1932, to a coal miner-father, he decided, aged 12, that he wanted to learn to dance. His mother had other ideas. “Boys don’t dance,” she insisted.

At 16, he began working for the London and North Eastern Railway, climbing gantries to replace bulbs in signals while trains roared by beneath. Earning his own money, he thought he would pay for his own dance lessons, his father siding with him against his mother’s stubborn opposition.

He enrolled in the Joan Thomas School, Retford (where the family had moved) before winning a scholarship to the International Ballet School in London, then led by Nikolai Sergeyev.

In 1951, he made his professional debut in a national tour of Oklahoma! (during which he became a lead soloist) and his first West End appearance in Pal Joey at the Princes Theatre in 1954.

He returned to the West End in The Pajama Game and Damn Yankees (Coliseum), Lady at the Wheel (Westminster Theatre), She Loves Me (Lyric Theatre) and High Spirits (Savoy Theatre). In between, there was television, including three years in Cool for Cats, numerous weekend spectaculars, and Sunday Night at the London Palladium.

After opening his own ballet school in Woking, he worked with Ruth French and later at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts.

He was a major examiner with (and created courses for) the Royal Academy of Dance for 26 years, receiving its highest award, its Fellowship, on his retirement.

Alex died on September 17, aged 85, after a prolonged illness, and left behind his brother and his partner of 61 years, Arthur Wilman. He will be missed by all who knew him.

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