Adam Bull.

Adam Bull. Photo: Danielle Smith

Adam Bull is a ballet dancer with an adventurous streak almost as wide as Bear Grylls's. He has communed with penguins in Antarctica and is keen to check out the iguanas on the Galapagos Islands. In July, he plans to tackle the gorges in the Australian outback. After that, it's Africa.

''I love adventure travel,'' Bull says. ''I love being on the water, sailing, and I love being out in nature. I'm a beach body. We're inside in theatres all the time, so I love getting out and having a chance to breathe. When I stop dancing, I want to travel and absorb the world.''

Bull, 30, is a principal dancer with The Australian Ballet. Standing at 193 centimetres in ballet slippers, he is tall for a dancer and his long legs are capable of jaw-dropping leaps. ''I can cover the stage quite easily,'' he says with a laugh. ''But it's the artistic side of ballet that excites me the most. I am a poetic dancer and I love to act.''

Bull is now rehearsing one of the most demanding male roles in ballet, Onegin. Some say Onegin is the ultimate scoundrel, the rich and world-weary young man from St Petersberg who fills his time with parties and balls. When he inherits a country estate, he toys with the feelings of the local ladies, only to end up heartbroken himself.

''He's a hard character to play,'' Bull says. ''He's bored with life. He's had lots of women and nothing excites him any more. He's not a bastard; he just doesn't care. But he really gets his comeuppance. The woman he loves has to choose between the man she loves and the man she lusts after. It's a really tragic ending.''

Created by the late John Cranko, the sweeping Russian ballet is based on the 1837 verse novel by Alexander Pushkin. Audiences can expect a lavish version from The Australian Ballet, which first performed Onegin in 1976. The detailed costumes and set cloths are being refurbished and sent to Australia from the Royal Swedish Ballet.

Artistic director David McAllister says Onegin and his love, Tatiana, are pivotal roles for dancers - which often make careers. ''Performing this ballet will be a huge step forward for our new generation of dancers,'' he says. ''It will be the ballet that people talk about seeing them in, a turning point in their lives as artists. It couldn't have come at a better time: we have a group of dancers that are really ready for this.''

Bull will dance with Amber Scott playing Tatiana. The pair have danced together in many ballets, including Graeme Murphy's Swan Lake. ''We have a great connection together, so to be sharing this with Amber is sensational,'' Bull says, adding that they will take Swan Lake to New York in June. ''I love New York City; it has such energy and vibrancy to it.''

Africa may have to wait.

Onegin opens at the Sydney Opera House on May 1. Tickets $33-$206. Bookings (02) 9250 7777.