Performing Arts Collection
The Australian Ballet
The Australian Ballet

Company History

The Australian Ballet was founded in 1962 under the Elizabethan Theatre Trust and was the first dance company in Australia to be subsidised by the Federal government. It aimed to provide full-time employment to professional dancers, to establish a school, build a repertoire of nineteenth and twentieth century ballets and to encourage new Australian works.

The company also made it a deliberate policy to bring international dancers and choreographers to Australia in order to lift both the technical standards of the company and to raise public awareness. Most notable among these artists were Dame Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev whose long association with the company started in 1964.

The Australian Ballet presented its first season in 1962. It opened at Her Majesty's Theatre, Sydney with Swan Lake, starring guest artists Erik Bruhn and Sonia Arova. In its first three years of operation the company not only toured every major city in Australia and New Zealand but also embarked on one of the longest tours ever undertaken by a ballet company - 67 performances across Europe and the United States. The Australian Ballet continues to perform in all capital cities and to regularly tour overseas.

Collection Holdings

The Australian Ballet Collection was transferred to the Performing Arts Collection in 1998. Originally named The Australian Archives of the Dance, the collection, which documents The Australian Ballet's own history within the context of international developments in dance, was established at the behest of the Ballet's inaurgural Artistic Director, Dame Peggy Van Praagh in 1972. 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.

From Lola Montez and Anna Pavlova to Robert Helpmann, Marilyn Jones, Rudolph Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn, this Collection is unique in its scope and depth of coverage. Highlights of the Collection include a garland of flowers worn by Anna Pavlova during her 1920 tour of Australia, and the guitar used by Rudolph Nureyev in The Australian Ballet's film version of Don Quixote.

> View online catalogue records associated with The Australian Ballet