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. His principal roles have included those in Onegin, Romeo and Juliet, La Fille mal gardée, The Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, The Sentimental Bloke, Coppélia, Manon, La Sylphide, Simfonietta and Stepping Stones.
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 and Giselle , as well as 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 Études 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 McAllister appeared in The Australian Ballet’s simulcasts of Giselle (1986), La Fille mal gardée (1987), The Merry Widow (1993) and Nutcracker – The Story of Clara (1994).
David McAllister has worked as a guest teacher with The Australian Ballet School, The Dancers Company, the Royal Academy of Dancing, the Cecchetti Society, the Australian Institute of Classical Dance, and 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.
In 2015, David premiered a new production of The Sleeping Beauty for The Australian Ballet. He choreographed The Nutcracker for the company in 2016 as part of its Storytime Ballet series, versions of classics created especially for children.