The Australian Ballet

Our History in Tutus

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Benedicte Bemet in The Sleeping Beauty, photo Kate Longley

Every costume tells a story …

When we came to dress the dancers for our Season 2023 shoot, our Artistic Director David Hallberg put together a curation of costumes that pays tribute to our history, spanning six decades and many notable productions. David says, “We looked back at 60 years of costume making. There is a richness of texture that came through in the selected tutus and tunics, that through time have stayed entirely relevant to the art form. It was amazing to see the dancers of today wearing the history of the company. Through the garments, we were able to show the beauty of how The Australian Ballet’s history informs the company of today.”

We take a closer look at some of the costumes that feature in the shoot, and celebrate the moments they represent.

Thanks to our Living Heritage Partner CHANEL, precious memories like these are being preserved for the generations to come.

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Evie Ferris

Photo Isabella Elordi

Raymonda

On the cover of our 2023 Season brochure, Evie Ferris wears the tutu for the lead ballerina in the Petipa ballet Raymonda. In 1965, only three years after The Australian Ballet was formed, the company toured the United Kingdom in Rudolf Nureyev’s newly staged production, with Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn dancing the leading roles – a spectacular way for the new company to debut on the world stage.

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Amy Harris
Photo Isabella Elordi

Dryad

The Australian Ballet deepened its connection with Nureyev when the company starred in his 1973 film of Don Quixote, still acclaimed as one of the most innovative dance films of all time. This tutu, designed by Barry Kay and worn by Amy Harris, is for a dryad in the vision scene where the Don, after being struck on the head, dreams that he finds his love Dulcinea in a splendid garden filled with mythical creatures.

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Yuumi Yamada
Photo Isabella Elordi

Cinderella

In 1965, Robert Helpmann became the co-Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet, sharing the position with Peggy van Praagh. Helpmann had been a member of London’s Vic-Wells Ballet and was close with its choreographer, Frederick Ashton. In 1972, he brought Ashton’s Cinderella into the company’s repertoire; he and Ashton played the drag parts of the Ugly Stepsisters. Yuumi Yamada is wearing Cinderella’s tutu from the ballroom scene, designed by Kristian Fredrikson. It was his first major commission for The Australian Ballet and the start of his long relationship with the company.

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Evie Ferris
Photo Isabella Elordi

Autumn Fairy

Also from Ashton’s Cinderella is this costume for the Autumn Fairy, worn by Evie Ferris. The Fairies of the Four Seasons visit Cinderella to dress her for the ball. In this tutu you can see Fredrikson’s characteristic love of layering, painting and appliqué.

Clara

Clara

The tutu for Clara’s performance of The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy in Graeme Murphy’s 1992 ballet Nutcracker – The Story of Clara, worn by Amy Harris, is one of Kristian Fredrikson’s finest achievements, and made it into our Top 10 Tutus list. Its layers of gold, silver and topaz evoke the richness of Imperial Russia

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Isobelle Dashwood
Photo Isabella Elordi

Aurora

In 2015, then Artistic Director David McAllister created a new production of The Sleeping Beauty for the company, with sets and costumes by Gabriela Tylesova. The third act, in which Aurora marries her prince, is based on the grandeur of Louis XIV and his court. Isobelle Dashwood wears Aurora’s wedding tutu with its curlicues of gold.

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Evie Ferris
Photo Isabella Elordi

Soiree Musicale

In this short comic work by John Taras, choreographed in 1955, a haughty prima ballerina and her partner battle for the spotlight. It featured in The Australian Ballet’s 1986 gala A Galaxy of Stars. Evie Ferris wears the prima ballerina’s simple but sumptuous chocolate-brown tutu.

Autumn fairy and sugar plum fairy 2

Isobelle Dashwood and Evie Ferris
Photo Isabella Elordi

Sugar Plum Fairy

Our Storytime Ballet series is specially designed as an introduction to ballet for young children. For Storytime Ballet: The Nutcracker, choreographed by David McAllister, designer Krystal Giddings created costumes based on Edwardian style. The Sugar Plum Fairy’s tutu, worn here by Isobelle Dashwood, is a froth of lilac lace, adorned with stars.

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Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev with artists of The Australian Ballet in Raymonda, photo courtesy of Australian News

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Christine Walsh and Paul de Masson in Soirée Musicale, photo David Simmonds

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Gailene Stock, Garth Welch and artists of The Australian Ballet in Cinderella, photo Paul Cox

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Benedicte Bemet in The Sleeping Beauty, photo Kate Longley

Michela Kirkaldie Kelvin Coe Ashtons Cinderella1980 Photo Jeff Busby

Michaela Kirkaldie and Ross Stretton in Cinderella, photo Jeff Busby

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Artists of The Australian Ballet in Don Quixote, photo Bill Bachman