|The Australian Ballet|
|Name||The Australian Ballet|
|Founding artistic director||Dame Peggy van Praagh|
|Principal venue||Level 5|
2 Kavanagh Street
|Associated schools||Australian Ballet School|
The Australian Ballet is the largest classical ballet company in Australia. It was founded by J. C. Williamson Theatres Ltd. and the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust in 1962, with the English-born dancer, teacher, repetiteur and director Dame Peggy van Praagh as founding artistic director. Today, it is recognised as one of the world's major international ballet companies.
The roots of the Australian Ballet can be found in the Borovansky Ballet, a company founded in 1940 by the Czech dancer Edouard Borovansky. Borovansky had been a dancer in the touring ballet company of the famous Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova and, after visiting Australia on tour with the Covent Garden Russian Ballet, he decided to remain in Australia, establishing a ballet school in Melbourne in 1939, out of which he developed a performance group which became the Borovansky Ballet. The company was supported and funded by J. C. Williamson Theatres Ltd from 1944. Following Borovansky's death in 1959, the English dancer and administrator Dame Peggy van Praagh was invited to become artistic director of the company. J. C. Williamson Theatres Ltd decided to disband the Borovansky Ballet in 1961.
In 1961, J. C. Williamson Theatres Ltd and the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust received federal subsidies towards the establishment of a national ballet company. These organisations established the Australian Ballet Foundation to assist with the establishment of a new company, which in 1962 became the Australian Ballet. Peggy van Praagh, who had been kept on a retainer by J. C. Williamson Theatres Ltd through the intervening year between the disbanding of the Borovansky Ballet and the establishment of the Australian Ballet, was invited to become the founding artistic director of the company. The majority of the dancers employed by the fledgling company were drawn from former members of the Borovansky Ballet.
The first performance by the Australian Ballet was Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, staged at Her Majesty's Theatre, Sydney on 2 November 1962. The principal dancers in the first season were Kathleen Gorham, Marilyn Jones and Garth Welch. Van Praagh also invited the Royal Ballet's Ray Powell to temporarily became the company's first ballet master, with Leon Kellaway (brother of Cecil Kellaway), a former dancer with the Covent Garden Russian Ballet, as the company's first ballet teacher. In later years Sir Robert Helpmann, Marilyn Jones and Maina Gielgud made major contributions as Artistic Directors of the Australian Ballet.
In 1964 van Praagh established the Australian Ballet School, which was formed specially to train dancers for the company and remains the company's associate school to this day. Dame Margaret Scott was the founding director of the school, followed by Gailene Stock CBE AM, Marilyn Rowe OBE, and now Lisa Pavane, all three former company principal artists.
Today the company is based in Melbourne; its Southbank headquarters is the Primrose Potter Australian Ballet Centre, named after its long term supporter Lady (Primrose) Potter. The company regularly tours to mainland state capital cities within Australia, with lengthy seasons in Melbourne at the State Theatre (accompanied by Orchestra Victoria) and in Sydney at the Sydney Opera House accompanied by the Australian Opera & Ballet Orchestra. Other regular venues are the Lyric Theatre at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre in Brisbane, and the Adelaide Festival Centre in Adelaide. The company also tours internationally, and performs annually in an intimate outdoor setting on Hamilton Island.
The Australian Ballet works in close cooperation with the Australian Ballet School, of which many of the company's dancers are graduates. Giving approximately 200 performances a year, the Australian Ballet claims to be the busiest ballet company in the world. With a vast repertoire which includes the major classical and heritage works as well as contemporary productions, it follows its artistic vision of "Caring for Tradition, Daring to be Different". Each year, the company also presents an extensive national education programme, run by Colin Peasley a former Principal Dancer with the company, to further inspire and educate its audiences. Its Dance Education Ensemble visits more than eighty primary schools per year to introduce young pupils to classical ballet and other types of dance.
Box office sales, derived from its strong and loyal audience base, are the foundation of the company's income stream. The Australian Ballet also receives funding from the Australian, Victorian and New South Wales governments, corporate sponsors, private donors and bequests.
The company's current artistic director is David McAllister AM, who was a principal dancer until 2001. The company's previous artistic directors were: Ross Stretton (1996-2001); Maina Gielgud (1983-96); Marilyn Jones (1979-82); Anne Woolliams (1976-77); Sir Robert Helpmann (1965-76) and the founding artistic director, Dame Peggy van Praagh (1962-74; 1978).
The most recent appointment to the position of executive director (July 2013) is Libby Christie, former Managing Director of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Her predecessor was Valerie Wilder, who succeeded Richard Evans.
Dancers with The Australian Ballet are:
The Telstra Ballet Dancer Awards have been made annually since 2003, in support of the aspirations of The Australian Ballet's elite young dancers. It is the biggest prize available specifically to a dancer in Australia, with a cash prize of $20,000 to the winner. The Telstra People's Choice Award is made to the most popular of the nominees in that year, using internet and SMS voting. The winner of the People's Choice receives a cash prize of $5,000.
joined The Australian Ballet in 2002, was promoted to principal in June 2008
Growing up in China, Chengwu Guo began dance classes at the age of eleven.
joined The Australian Ballet in 2003, was promoted to principal artist in 2010
joined The Australian Ballet in 2002, was promoted to coryphée in 2005, was promoted to principal artist in 2010
joined The Australian Ballet in 2000, was promoted to principal artist in 2011
joined The Australian Ballet in 2006, was promoted to soloist in 2010, to senior artist in 2011, and to principal artist on 6 April 2013
She was promoted to senior artist in 2014, and principal artist in April 2015 following her debut as Giselle.
joined The Australian Ballet in 2001, was promoted to principal artist in 2011
joined The Australian Ballet in 2001, was promoted to principal artist in 2011
joined The Australian Ballet at the beginning of 2009
joined The Australian Ballet in 2002, was promoted to coryphée in 2007, and soloist in 2011
joined The Australian Ballet at the beginning of 2008, was promoted to coryphée in 2011
was promoted to soloist in June 2013
He joined The Australian Ballet in 2013
Martino has stage presence, alert dramatic instincts, a powerful leap
Reiko Hombo will become a senior artist, Chengwu Guo will be made a soloist and Brett Chynoweth, John-Paul Idaszak, Ako Kondo, Brooke Lockett, Karen Nanasca and Sharni Spencer are moving up to the rank of coryphée. These promotions are effective in the new year.
joined The Australian Ballet's corps de ballet in 2009
Chris joined the Birmingham Royal Ballet in 2007
joined The Australian Ballet as a coryphée in July 2009, was promoted to soloist in 2011
joined The Australian Ballet at the beginning of 2008
joined The Australian Ballet in 2005, was promoted to Coryphée in 2010
joined The Australian Ballet in 2002, was promoted to coryphée in 2008, and to soloist for the 2011 season
American Ballet Theatre (2007-2010) and then the Dutch National Ballet (2010-2013)