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The Australian Ballet Timeline

By maggs91
  • First Performance

    First Performance
    On 2 November 1962, The Australian Ballet staged its very first performance at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Sydney. Over the next five decades, hundreds of dancers, choreographers, designers, teachers, composers, costumiers and a passionate supporting cast would make the company what it is today.
  • First Internatioanl Tour

    First Internatioanl Tour
    The Australian Ballet travels to New Zealand for its first international tour, performing repertoire including Peggy van Praagh’s Swan Lake, Les Sylphides, The Lady and the Fool and Melbourne Cup. It’s financially unsuccessful.
  • Fitzroy

    The company moves briefly into its most colourful home, rented premises in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy. The building had a mixed past, and men would loiter around outside, apparently remembering its previous incarnation. The company only stayed a few months before moving on to new premises.
  • Margot Fonteyn & Rudolf Nureyev

    Margot Fonteyn & Rudolf Nureyev
    Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev, whose legendary partnership is driving audiences into rapturous frenzies akin to Beatlemania, arrive to guest with The Australian Ballet in Swan Lake and Giselle. It’s the first time they dance a complete ballet with any company other than The Royal Ballet.
  • Dancers Strike

    Dancers Strike
    Disparities in pay cause unrest among the dancers, who eventually strike, holding placards that say “Proper payment for skill” and “Why pirouette into poverty?” They win their case and the pay structure is overhauled.
  • USA Tour

    USA Tour
    The company embark on a 17-city, 69-performance, 10-week tour of the USA with Don Quixote and acquires a group of die-hard fans who follow the dancers from city to city, taking casual work to buy tickets and live.
  • First Choreographic Workshop

    First Choreographic Workshop
    The Australian Ballet’s first choreographic workshop is presented in Melbourne. Nine young members of the company present works. Among them are John Meehan, Graeme Murphy and Leigh Warren.
  • Silver Medals - Moscow

    Silver Medals - Moscow
    Kelvin Coe and Marilyn Rowe win individual silver medals at the Second International Ballet Competition in Moscow, performing pas de deux and variations from La fille mal gardée, Esmeralda, Nureyev’s Raymonda and Glen Tetley’s Gemini. They also win the Publisher’s Prize for Most Outstanding Couple.
  • Romeo & Juliet

    Romeo & Juliet
    Anne Woolliams comes to Australia to stage John Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet, which will be a favourite of both dancers and audiences for years to come. Lucette Aldous and Kelvin Coe dance in the lead roles in the Australian premiere at the Sydney Opera House.
  • The Merry Widow

    The Merry Widow
    The Merry Widow, the first full-length work commissioned by The Australian Ballet, has its world premiere in Melbourne. The ballet is Helpmann’s dream and he overlooks every aspect of its production. With choreography by Ronald Hynd and opulent sets and costumes by Desmond Heeley, it waltzes straight into its audiences’ hearts. So popular is it that it is the first ballet the company notates; it is thought prudent to claim copyright to deter circling entrepreneurs.
  • China Tour

    China Tour
    The Australian Ballet tours China – the first time a major ballet company has visited the country since the Cultural Revolution. Performing Don Quixote, the dancers are noisily feted everywhere they go.
  • 26 Days

    26 Days
    The dancers are outraged over proposed changes to their contracts, which increase the numbers of their performances and effectively demotes some of them. When the issues cannot be resolved, the dancers go on strike for 26 days, and parts of the Melbourne and Sydney seasons are cancelled. In the wake of the strike, some of the company’s top dancers resign.
  • Marilyn Jones

    Marilyn Jones
    Marilyn Jones, shaken and disillusioned by the experience of the strike, resigns to spend more time with her two young sons. Marilyn Rowe, who has been acting as her artistic advisor, is appointed as “ballet director” while the search begins for a new artistic director.
  • Myer Music Bowl

    Myer Music Bowl
    The company’s performance of La Fille Mal Gardée at the Myer Music Bowl, part of the Moomba celebrations, is a smash: an audience of 15,000 watches the ballet.
  • Ballet Centre

    Ballet Centre
    Work begins on the new Ballet Centre in South Melbourne. The six-storey building will be the company’s first purpose-built base.
  • Moving In

    Moving In
    The Australian Ballet moves to its new purpose-built home in Southbank, Melbourne, opened by Prime Minister Bob Hawke and the Premier of Victoria, John Cain.
  • Noel Pelly

    Noel Pelly
    Noel Pelly, an original member of the The Australian Ballet’s staff, (he began his career with the company as a press officer, and finished it as its much-respected Administrator) retires. To give him an appropriate send-off, the company prepares a farewell performance – in great secrecy, sometimes in dressing rooms behind closed doors. Given at the State Theatre, the performance consists of extracts from Pelly’s favourite ballets; to finish the evening, Act III of The Merry Widow is performed w
  • Kelvin Coe

    Kelvin Coe
    Kelvin Coe dies at the age of 42. His last performance was as an Ugly Sister in Ashton’s Cinderella in December 1991. He was the first dancer in The Australian Ballet to work his way from the ranks of the corps de ballet to principal artist and was one of its greatest stars.
  • First Extensive Education Program

    First Extensive Education Program
    The company launches its first extensive education program, initiated and managed by its longest serving dancer and ex-ballet master Colin Peasley, to foster and expand knowledge of dance across Australia through informative talks, behind-the-scenes tours and master classes.
  • Telstra

    Telstra becomes The Australian Ballet’s principal sponsor, providing vital support that continues to this day.
  • New York

    New York
    The company wows New York and Washington with its program of works by Australian choreographers, including Divergence, At the edge of night, Dark Lullaby and Madame Butterfly.
  • Sydney Olympics Arts Festival

    Sydney Olympics Arts Festival
    Sylvie Guillem appears with the company in Maurice Béjart’s Bolero as part of the Sydney Olympics Arts Festival; The Australian Ballet performs that perennial favourite The Merry Widow as part of the same festival.
  • Sydney Dance Company

    Sydney Dance Company
    For the Centenary of Federation celebrations, The Australian Ballet teams up with the Sydney Dance Company for Graeme Murphy’s Tivoli, an affectionate tribute to the showgirls and comedians of the Tivoli Theatre, complete with a Burlesque version of Swan Lake.
  • Telstra Ballet Dancer Award

    Telstra Ballet Dancer Award
    The Telstra Ballet Dancer Award is launched, on the eve of the company’s 40th birthday, with the aim of nurturing young talent. Many of the dancers who have been winners or even nominees speak of the Award as a massive incentive to their careers, and the winners of the award often go on to great success.
  • Out There

    Out There
    After a detailed scoping exercise, Out There – The Australian Ballet in schools, the company’s in-school program, begins.
  • Nutcracker

    A performance of Peter Wright’s spectacular production of The Nutcracker is filmed live at the Sydney Opera House and beamed via satellite to eight regional cinemas throughout Australia. In addition to the capacity house in the Opera Theatre, thousands view the live performance on a giant screen on the forecourt.
  • Ian Potter Foundation

    Ian Potter Foundation
    The Ian Potter Foundation gives the company a transformative gift of eight million dollars – the largest in The Australian Ballet’s history. The Potter family have a long history with the Ballet; The Primrose Potter Australian Ballet Centre is named in honour of Lady Potter’s long involvement with the company.
  • Kirsty Martin

    Kirsty Martin
    Kirsty Martin, a principal artist who has spent part of her career with Nederlands Dans Theater and is the first Australian to win the coveted Benois de la Danse prize (known as the Oscar of ballet, and awarded to the most outstanding dancer internationally) retires to spend more time with her two children and husband Damien Welch. Her last performance is as Hanna in The Merry Widow.
  • 50th Year

    50th Year
    The Australian Ballet reaches its 50th year with some impressive numbers under its belt. The company has given 7,201 performances, amassed a repertoire of 389 ballets, commissioned 237 new works, toured to 37 countries and produced 12 ballet babies!