A graduate of The Australian Ballet School, Perth-born David McAllister began his training with Evelyn Hodgkinson and joined The Australian Ballet in 1983. He was promoted to Senior Artist in 1986 and to Principal Artist in January 1989.
During his career, David performed a wide variety of Principal roles from the major classical repertoire including Onegin, Romeo and Juliet,La Fille mal gardée and Don Quixote. He also performed in many contemporary pieces and world premieres working with choreographers such as Jiri Kylian (Benois de la Danse laureate), William Forsythe (Benois de la Danse laureate), Twyla Tharp, Graeme Murphy, Stephen Baynes and Stanton Welch.
In 1985 he won a Bronze Medal at the Fifth International Ballet Competition in Moscow and the same year won the Oceanic Equity Arts Award for Young Achievers in Perth. As a result of the Moscow Competition he was invited to return to the USSR as a guest artist and made numerous appearances with the Bolshoi Ballet, the Kirov Ballet, the Georgian State Ballet and other companies in Don Quixote, Giselle and in gala performances.
In 1989 he was guest artist with The National Ballet of Canada alternating in the roles of Mercutio and Benvolio in John Cranko's Romeo and Juliet and in Etudes and The Four Temperaments. He has also been a guest artist with Birmingham Royal Ballet and Singapore Dance Theatre. In London in 1992, he took part in the Royal Gala performance of Coppélia in the presence of the Princess of Wales.
David has worked as a guest teacher with The Australian Ballet School, The Dancers Company, the Royal Academy of Dancing, the Cecchetti Society, Australian Institute of Classical Dance and at various summer schools. In November 2000, he completed a Graduate Diploma in Arts and Entertainment Management at Deakin University.
David McAllister danced for the final time in Giselle on 24 March 2001 at the Sydney Opera House and became Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet in July 2001. He was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2004 Australia Day Honours List and was elected Vice President of the Royal Academy of Dance in 2005.
During his Directorship David has commissioned several ballets including new productions of Sleeping Beauty(Welch), Swan Lake(Murphy) and Raymonda (Baynes) and new works such as Wild Swans(Tankard), Amalgamate(Page) and Molto Vicace(Baynes). In 2005 David led The Australian Ballet on a UK tour with their new production of Swan Lake for which the company received the Best Foreign Dance Company award.