Performing Arts Collection
Dance Collection
Dance Collection

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

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.

Ballet pointe shoes worn by Justine Summers in Divergence, The Australian Ballet, 1994
Tutu skirt worn by Justine Summers in Divergence, The Australian Ballet, 1994
Headress worn by Arthur Turnbull performing Hindi dance Alliripu, Kadimah Theatre, c 1958
Photograph of Anna Pavlova in a backstage study
Photograph of Helene Kirsova and Igor Youskevitch in 'Les Presages', Monte Carlo Russian Ballet, 1936-1937
Portrait of Sonia Revid featured in 'The Home' magazine, 1933
The Australian Ballet
The Australian Ballet presented its first season in 1962. It opened at Her Majesty's Theatre, Sydney with Swan Lake. The Australian Ballet Collection was transferred to the Performing Arts Collection in 1998. The collection comprises costume and set designs, prints, drawings, scrapbooks, photographs, posters, programmes, costumes, props and signed pointe shoes documenting the development of dance in Australia.
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Australian Ballet Society
Collection includes photographs, concept drawings and designs, archives and musical scores and material relating to Australian Ballet Society, Australian Ballet Theatre, Ballets Russes, Borovansky, Bodenwieser, National Theatre Ballet, Ballet Rambert, Ballet Guild. Membership lists and documents relating to the growth of the Australian Ballet Society from 1945.
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Ballet Guild / Ballet Victoria
Collection holdings include correspondence (1976), photographs, programmes, designs and costumes used by Ballet Victoria.
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Ballet Lab
A small collection of designs and samples created by Anastasia La Fey for the Ballet Lab production Origami, 2006.
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Ballet Rambert Australian Tour
Ballet Rambert introduced the Australian public to a broad range of classic and contemporary English works. In addition to popular classics such as Giselle, Swan Lake (Act II) and Les Sylphides, the company's repertoire for the Australian tour included works by contemporary English choreographers such as Frederick Ashton, Walter Gore, Andree Howard, Antony Tudor and Ninette de Valois. The collection includes scrapbooks, programmes. Date Range: c1946 - 1972s.
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Ballets Russes in Australia
The influence of the Ballets Russes on Australian audiences, artists and designers was profound, complex and long lasting. Notable items relating to the Ballets Russes include business records and correspondence; extensive holdings of artworks depicting dancers; extensive photographic holdings; the most extensive programme holdings in Australia; and comprehensive official and personal scrapbooks relating to each tour. In addition, the Performing Arts Collection holds extensive collection of programmes relating to the Ballets Russes in England.
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Bodenwieser, Gertrud
Collection holdings include costumes, news clippings, photographs, programmes. Date Range: 1920-1961.
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Borovansky Ballet
Materials relating to the Borovansky Ballet includes photography, archival material and programmes, costumes, scrapbooks, artworks and designs.
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Borovansky, Edouard
Collection Scope and Contents: Photo albums, Scrapbooks. Date Range: 1931 - 1959.
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Chunky Move
This collection has been drawn from the Chunky Move Archive under the guidance of Gideon Obarzanek in his final year as Artistic Director. The collection reflects the company's reputation 'for producing a distinct yet unpredictable brand of genre-defying dance performance.'
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Colman, Hugh
Hugh Colman is one of Australia's pre-eminent theatre, dance and opera designers.
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Computer Dance Programme
Material relating to a computer aided choreography system; computer notation, programme, 1983.
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Constable, William
William Constable (1906-1989) painter, printmaker and theatre designer, was born in Bendigo, Victoria. The Performing Arts Collection holds costume and set designs, including a number of works for the Borovansky Ballet.
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Dance Works
Collection holdings include photographs, costumes, programmes. Date range 1992 - 2005.
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Fonteyn, Margot
Margot Fonteyn (1919 - 1991) British born prima ballerina of international acclaim. Collection holdings include signed photograph and poster, production photography, pointe shoes.
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Fraser, Anne
Anne Fraser began her career as an advertising designer before working with the National Theatre in Melbourne. In 1955 she became the first full-time designer for the Melbourne Theatre Company. Collection holdings include contracts, correspondence, designs, documents, magazines, news clippings, photographs, scrapbooks, scripts. Design (Opera / Theatre / Ballet) 1933 - 1994.
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Fredrikson, Kristian
Kristian Fredrikson (1940 - 2005) was one of Australia's most distinguished performing arts designers, whose 40 year career encompassed ballet, opera, contemporary dance, theatre, exhibitions, film and television. Collection holdings include designs, scrapbook, sketchbooks. Date Range: 1958-1962.
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Graeme, Joyce
The Performing Arts Collection holds two collections relating to Joyce Graeme, one was received from the estate of Rex Reid the other from The Australian Ballet. Material includes: correspondence, choreographic notes, costume and set designs, artworks, photographs, scrapbooks, programmes and newspaper clippings.
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Hardwick, Adele
Adele Hardwick was a professional dancer in Australia in the 1920s and early '30s. Hardwick appeared at the Tivoli Theatre in the mid 1920s in a number of different acts for which she received good reviews.
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Helpmann, Robert
Robert Helpmann CBE (1909 - 1986) pursued a national and international career as an actor, dancer, director, entrepreneur and choreographer. Collection holdings include photographs and postcards. Date range 1940s - 1960s.
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J. C. Williamson Theatres Ltd
When the curtain finally came down on J.C.Williamson Theatres Ltd, it became apparent that a repository was required for a century's worth of company records. With the support of Lady Viola Tait, thousands of documents were recovered and donated to the Performing Arts Collection in 1980.
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King, Charles
Collection holdings include a Scrapbook 1940-1972.
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Kolobok National Folk Dance Company
Collection holdings include business records, newsletters. Date range 1974 - 1985.
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Latona, Joe
Joe Latona (1920 - 1989) Sydney born acrobatic tap dancer, choreographer and producer. Collection holdings include certificates, news clippings, photographs, posters, programmes.
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Laurence, Owen
Owen Laurence (1906-1988) born in Broken Hill, New South Wales. The Owen Laurence Collection documents Laurence's forty year dancing career as part of the adagio dance acts Latasha and Laurence (1927-1947) and Leslie and Laurence (1947-1962), and includes of two scrapbooks, as well as approximately 210 black and white photographs.
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Lindsay, Daryl
Sir Ernest Daryl Lindsay (1889 - 1976) was an Australian painter, illustrator, gallery director and arts administrator, born in Creswick, Victoria. Collection holdings include sketchbooks, drawings, watercolours, scrapbooks, books and ephemera relating to the Ballets Russes. Date Range c.1936-1940.
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Martyn, Laurel
Laurel Martyn (1916-), dancer, choreographer, teacher and founder of the Ballet Guild (later Ballet Victoria), is one of the Australian dance world's most loved and revered figures. Collection holdings include costumes, designs, photographs, scrapbook. Date range 1932 - 1986.
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Merce Cunningham Dance Company
Collection holdings include photographs, posters, programmes, promotional material. Modern Dance 1957 - 1979.
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Murphy, Graeme & Vernon, Janet
One of the most enduring and prolific partnerships in Australian dance history, the Janet Vernon and Graeme Murphy collection includes personal artefacts, costumes, accessories, awards, correspondence, scores, drawings and framed designs.
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National Theatre Ballet
Active in Melbourne under the names National Theatre Ballet Company and the Australian National Theatre Ballet Company between 1949 and 1955. Collection holdings include photographs, ephemera, objects.
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Pavinoff, Rovi
Collection holdings include choreography notes, documents, news clippings, photographs, posters, programmes, promotional material, scrapbooks, sheet music. Date Range: 1932 - 1975.
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Pavlova, Anna
Anna Pavlova (1881 - 1931) was a Russian ballerina of the late 19th and the early 20th centuries, widely regarded as one of the finest classical ballet dancers in history. Pavlova toured Australia in 1926 and 1929 under the entrepreneurial banner of the J. C. Williamson organisation. The Collection contains artworks, programmes, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, costume elements, clothing, correspondence and promotional objects. Date Range 1896-1931.
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Pearce, Michael
Michael Pearce is a Melbourne-based theatre designer, visual artist and performer who has designed for dance, drama and opera companies in Australia and New Zealand, Europe and Asia. The collection holds a representative selection of Michael Pearce’s designs for productions staged by The Australian Ballet.
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Perry, Dein
Actor, dancer and choreographer, Dein Perry is most widely known for his uniquely Australian theatrical dance show Tap Dogs. The Performing Arts Collection has a costume, promotional ephemera and photographs from the Tap Dogs show.
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Pounder, Betty
Dancer, choreographer and ballet mistress Betty Pounder (1921-1990) is best remembered for both her influence on post war theatrical dance and her outstanding contribution to the J.C. Williamson dance musicals of the 1950s and 1960s. The collection holds news clippings, photographs, production files, programmes, scrapbooks. Date Range: 1920s - 1990.
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Reid, Rex
Rex Reid was born in Adelaide in 1917 and danced in England and Europe with the Sadler's Wells Ballet, London Ballet, Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuervas, and Ballet Rambert. Collection holdings include costumes, personal documents, newspaper clippings, photographs, appointment diaries, programmes, costume and set designs, correspondence and posters.
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Rowell, Kenneth
Kenneth Rowell was a leading Australian stage designer with a prolific career both here and in the UK.
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Saar, Karin
Collection holdings include choreography book, correspondence, flyers, "Fiesta" material, news clippings, note books. Date Range: 1984 - 1985.
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Social Dancing
General subject area collection including books, dance-cards, documents, floor product, invitations, news clippings, promotional material. 1875 - 1991
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Square Dancing
General subject area collection of news clippings relating to Square Dancing. Date Range 1952 - 1960.
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State Theatre Ballet
Collection holdings include photographs, programmes. Ballet, date range 1927 - 1934.
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Sydney Dance Company
Graeme Murphy was appointed Director of the Dance Company (NSW) in 1976, changing the company's name to Sydney Dance Company three years later. He created over 60 works for the Company and along with Associate Director, Janet Vernon, helped established the careers of well-known Australian dancers and choreographers. The donation of close to 300 items from the Sydney Dance Company is predominantly costumes, but also props, photographs and awards.
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Turnbull, Arthur
Collection holdings include choreography notes, correspondence, costumes, costume and set designs, documents, flyers, magazines & journals, news clippings, posters, programmes. Date Range: 1938 - 1991.
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Van Praagh, Peggy
Dame Margaret (Peggy) van Praagh, D.B.E. (1910-1990), dancer, répétiteur, teacher, author and artistic director. Collection holdings include correspondence, personal documents, photographs, costume designs, costume elements, objects, programs and newspaper clippings, 1875-1991.
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Venues: Earls Court
Collection holdings include photographs and scrapbooks. Date range 1931 - 1963.
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Ward, Frank and Desle Todd
Dancer, choreographer, actor and producer Frank Ward (1929 - 2011) met Desle Todd on the Tivoli Circuit where Todd was performing as a Tivoli ballet girl from 1952 to 1958. Collection holdings include photographs, archives and costumes documenting the career of dancer, choreographer, actor and producer Frank Ward and dancer Desle Ward (nee Todd). 1930s - 1980s.
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Welch, Garth
Garth Welch (1936-), dancer, choreographer, artistic director and teacher. Materials include brochures, correspondence, costumes, magazines, newsletters, news clippings, photographs, programmes, reports and certificates, scrapbooks. Date range 1939 - 1996.
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Ballet
Theatrical Dance
Contemporary Dance
Folk Dance
Modern Dance
Social Dance