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Dancer and Graphic artist Martin James was born in Christchurch, New Zealand, on 22 September 1961. He attended the New Zealand School of Dance and in 1981, became a ballet dancer with the Royal New Zealand Ballet. The following year he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council Grant for study in the United States.

In 1985, he married the former dancer Adrienne Jane Terehunga. Their daughter, Rachael Unaiiki, was born in 1990, and their son, Marcus Sebastian Tane James, in 1992.

Shortly after his marriage in 1985, Martin joined the English National Ballet, becoming the Company´s principal dancer from 1987 until 1990. He has since joined the Deutsche Opera Ballet (1990 to 1994) and the Royal Danish Ballet (1994 to present). His major performances are listed below:

Albrecht and Hilarion in Giselle
Franz in Coppelia
Prince in the Nutcracker (with Lynn Seymour)
Toreador in Petit´s Carmen
Romeo and Paris in Ashton´s Romeo and Juliet
The Poet in Les Sylphide (Dame Alicia Markova´s production)
Blackamoor in Petrushka
World premiere of Christopher Bruce´s Symphony in Three Movements
Ben Stevenson´s Three Preludes
Kevin Haigen´s Meditation (cr role with Natalia Makarova), 1987
Spectre de la Rose, 1987
Le Corsaire pas de deux, 1987
Seigfried and Benno in Makarova´s Swan Lake, 1987
Title role in John Cranko´s Onegin, 1987 (with Ekaterina Maximova, 1989)
Oedipus in Glen Tetly´s Sphinx
Title role in Balanchine´s Apollo, 1987 and 1992
Balanchine’s Symphony in C, 1987
Christopher Bruce´s Land, 1987
Bull in Christopher Bruce and Lindsey Kemp´s Cruel Garden, 1987
Leading Soldier in Antony Tudor´s Echoing of Trumpets, 1990
Donner and Hagen in Bejart´s Ring um den Ring, 1990
The Chosen One in Bejart’s Sacre du Printemps, 1991
Bejart’s Firebird, 1991
Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux (Kirov theatre Leningrad), 1991
Albrecht in Peter Shaufuss´s Giselle, 1991
James in Shaufuss´s La Sylphide, 1991
Prince in Valery Panov´s Cinderella, 1991 (Winner of Badische Zeitung Critics Award)
Peter Darrel’s Tales of Hoffman, Hong Kong Ballet, 1991
Albrecht in Paris Opera version of Giselle (with Inoue Ballet Foundation), 1992
Le Corsaire Pas de Deux (with Sylvie Guillem), Paris, 1992
Albrecht in Giselle (Guest Artist, Kirov Theatre St. Petersburg), 1993

Since joining the Royal Danish Ballet, his roles have included:

World Premiere of Anna Lærkeson´s Dromme, 1994
Albrecht in Giselle (Royal Danish Ballet’s version with Alessandra Ferri), 1994
Romeo, Paris and Benvolio in Ashton´s Romeo and Juliet, 1994
Premiere of Marie Bronlin Tanis Dance Piece, 1994
James and Gurn in La Sylphide, 1994
Paul Taylor’s Aureole, 1994
Kim Brandstrup´s Mysteries, 1994
Flower Festival of Genzano Pas de deux, 1994
Title Role in Cranko´s Onegin, 1994
Oberon in Neumier´s Midsummer Night’s Dream, 1995
Dance Master in Bournonville’s Conservatoire, 1995
The King in flemming Flint’s Caroline Matilde, 1995
Peter Martin’s Ash, 1995
The Role of the King in Peter Shaufuss´s Hamlet, 1996
Seigfried, Russian and Hungarian in Peter Martin’s Swan Lake, 1997
Role of Amor in Kim Brandstrup´s Amor and Psyche (cr), 1997
James in Royal Danish Ballet version of La Sylphide, 1997
Juri Kalian’s Return to a Strange Land (Brown Pas de Deux), 1997
Nutcracker Prince in Flemming Flindt´s Nutcracker, 1997
Copain in Bejart’s Gaite Parisienne, 1998
Basilio in Nereyev´s Don Quixote, 1998
Camillo in Ronald Hind’s The Merry Widow, 1998
Pas de Tois, Lifar´s Suite en Blanc, 1998
The Husband in Jerome Robbins’s The Concert, 1999
Albrecht in Royal Danish Ballet version of Giselle, 1999
Nacho Duato´s Jardi Tancat, 1999
Pas de Six in Helgi Tomasson`s (after Petipa) Sleeping Beauty, 2000
Peter Martin’s Jazz, 2000
Actors with the Role of the Father in Neumier´s Romeo and Juliet, 2000

Mr James has also made numerous guest appearances in Spain, Italy, England, France, Denmark, Russia, Finland, New Zealand, Germany, Hong Kong and Japan. He was a guest teacher in Malmo, Sweden, in 1997, as well as with Peter Shaufuss´s Company, The Peter Schaufuss Ballet, 1998, and his film and television performances have included the role of Eros in Gillian Lynne’s Look of Love (1989), the created role of Benno in Natalia Makarova´s Swan Lake, and the performance of La Sylphide (1990).

Still, knowing that he will not dance forever, Mr James has begun to pursue an interest in painting and graphic arts. He held his first one-man exhibition of graphic arts at the Molesworth Gallery in Wellington, New Zealand in 1984, giving much commission work and in 1999, he sold an exhibition of paintings and graphics to the Royal Theatre Art Club in Copenhagen. In addition, he has been recently included in 2000 Outstanding Artist’s and Designers of the 20th Century, and named one of the Outstanding People of the 20th century in 1999. He has received a Golden Scroll of Excellence, 1997 and his Biographical information has been included in such noted reference volumes as International Directory of Distinguished Leadership 1997, Dictionary of International Biography (28th Edition) 2000, Five Hundred Leaders of Influence 1996 as well as 2000 Outstanding Intellectuals of the 20th Century.

Whilst being fascinated to find that I share an interest with someone like Martin I was really curious to know where his love of cooking came from. This was what he had to say:

My interest in cooking and recipes is internationally simple! When travelling around the world with the Prestigeous Ballet Companies I have been associated with, as well as a Guest Artist, has given me the desire to cook and experiment with different foods.

Often after performances dancers have no option but to eat in restaurants because there is simply no time or the energy level is at it´s lowest point. I have been priviledged to have been treated to extremely excellent restaurants the world over and developed an avid interest over the years to try and make recipes as true to taste as possible, whatever the style of cooking.

I love to cook for people and there is nothing more satisfying than having people comment on what you have cooked for them. I spend hours in the kitchen and have, even for fun, been pushed into a home Ready Steady Cook! This really tests ones skills, although I am given a half hour by my family and friends

Ballet dancers' interest in food to the normal person (shall we say), sometimes seems a little strange, especially the passion I have for it, but indeed this is very common in many dancers, particularly male! Many of us here in Denmark for example, will have cooking recipe evenings where we share our collective experiences. In fact another of the principal dancers who is French cooks wonderful country style French Cooking.

Dancers like to eat but have to be a little careful with the quantities (especially the women), and with the massive stresses we are putting onto our bodies we deserve to eat well I believe, so in conclusion, this is a relaxing way for me to get away from the daily difficulties of my industry and use my talents in another way, after all, cooking is in fact an art form isn´t it.

Take care,