Performing Arts Collection
Dance Collection
Dance Collection

The Arts Centre Melbourne's dance collection traces the history of dance in Australia from the late nineteenth century to today. The collection encompasses the work of many of Australia's major dance companies and individual performers whilst spanning a range of genres.

The story of the growth of dance culture in Australia is particularly well documented by collections relating to the development of the Borovansky Ballet, Bodenwieser Ballet, National Theatre Ballet, Laurel Martyn's Ballet Guild/Ballet Victoria and The Australian Ballet. Influential international touring artists and companies including Anna Pavlova, the Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo, Margot Fonteyn and Rudolph Nureyev are also represented.

The Dance collection is also enriched by stage designs illustrating the artistry and beauty of dance. William Constable, Anne Fraser, Kristian Fredrikson and Kenneth Rowell are just some of designers represented.

One of the highlights of the Dance collection is the exquisite core of costumes charting The Australian Ballet's development from the 1960s onwards. These include costumes from the first Australian work commissioned by The Australian Ballet, Melbourne Cup (1962) designed by Ann Church, Robert Helpmann's Red King costume for Checkmate, Margot Fonteyn's Merry Widow costume along with Kathleen Gorham and Barry Kitcher's costume from the iconic Australian ballet, The Display.
Contemporary Dance
Contemporary dance is a current focus of our Collection Development Policy as we seek to balance our rich collection of classical ballet material with a vibrant collection of material from Contemporary dance companies. A recent acquisition from the Sydney Dance Company, coupled with a major donation from the personal collections of Graeme Murphy and Janet Vernon have formed the foundation of our Contemporary Dance collections.
Folk Dance
Traditional genres of dance, including folk styles are well represented in the programme collection. A small collection in this performance area includes the Kolobok National Folk Dance Company collection.
Modern Dance
Collections documenting exponents of early twentieth century modern dance techniques include the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Karin Saar and Gertrud Bodenwieser Collections.
Social Dance
The dance collection is further enriched by photographs, scrapbooks and mementos documenting Melbourne's lively social dance scene during the first half of this century. These collections provide an important reminder of the days when thousands of dancers flocked to the Green Mill dance hall on what is now the site of the Arts Centre.
Theatrical Dance
The Dance collection also features significant holdings relating to theatrical dance. Among those represented are choreographers Betty Pounder and Joe Latona and adagio dancer Owen Laurence. Many of these collections reflect the work of dancers employed by the dominant theatrical managements of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries - J.C. Williamson Theatres Ltd and the Tivoli Circuit. In more recent times, the Arts Centre has continued to develop this part of the collection with the acquisition of costume and design material relating to Dein Perry's Tap Dogs.
Circus Collection
Music Collection
Opera Collection
Theatre Collection
Broadcast & Popular Entertainment