(b London, 16 Feb. 1943)
British dancer and director. He studied with June Hampshire and from 1953 at Sadler's Wells Ballet School, becoming the Royal Ballet School. In 1960 he joined Covent Garden Opera Ballet and in 1961 the Royal Ballet where he was promoted principal in 1966. With his unforced technical facility, elegant classical line, and natural poise he rapidly became the leading danseur noble of his generation, performing all the major classical roles. In 1964 Ashton paired him with Antoinette Sibley in The Dream, and in doing so initiated one of the era's great partnerships, the dancers' slender bodies and classical line achieving a startling correspondence with each other. The role of Oberon drew out a quality of magical glamour from Dowell, while the experience of working with Tudor on the leading role in Shadowplay (1967) considerably deepened his dramatic expression. He also created roles in many other ballets including Ashton's Monotones (1965), Jazz Calendar (1968), Enigma Variations (1968), Meditation from Thaïs (1971), and A Month in the Country (1976), and MacMillan's Anastasia (1971 version) and Manon (1974). Between 1978 and 1980 he took leave of absence to dance with American Ballet Theatre where he partnered Makarova and experienced the technical challenge of a new repertoire. He continued to make occasional dance appearances into his fifties, creating roles in MacMillan's Winter Dreams (1991) and Wright's revised version of The Nutcracker (1999). In 1984 he was appointed assistant to Norman Morrice, the Royal Ballet's director; a year later he was made associate director, and in 1986 was appointed artistic director, retiring in 2001. He succeeded in checking falling technical standards in the company and nurtured important new talent, notably Bussell. He staged new productions of Petipa and Ivanov's Swan Lake (1987) and Petipa's Sleeping Beauty (1994). He was knighted in 1995. He continues to work with the Royal as guest coach and to stage individual Ashton ballets for other companies.