The Australian Ballet

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Now and Then: 60 Years of The Australian Ballet School

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Dame Margaret Scott with Ross Stretton, 1971 The Australian Ballet School
Photo Paul Cox

How Dame Margaret Scott and Dame Peggy van Praagh's vision for an independent national dance school cultivated The Australian's Ballet's most esteemed artists.

On the 2nd of March 1964, the very first students of The Australian Ballet School walked into the studio to begin class. Established by Dame Margaret Scott, the school was part of Dame Peggy van Praagh’s artistic vision to provide specialised training for aspiring professional dancers and complement the newly formed national company, The Australian Ballet.

Van Praagh saw the need for an independent classical dance school to feed into The Australian Ballet and help develop a national style of classical ballet in Australia.

On the 2nd of March 2024, we celebrate 60 years of The Australian Ballet School and look back at some of the esteemed alumni who started their ballet journey in the studios and have gone on to grace stages at leading companies in Australia and internationally.

1960s

The Australian Ballet School opens its doors to aspiring dancers. Future Artistic Director of The School, Marilyn Rowe and renowned choreographer Graeme Murphy were among the first students.

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Marilyn Rowe and Robert Olup, La Fille mal gardee (Ashton) 1967
Photo Gregory McCloskey

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Graeme Murphy, The Dream (Ashton) 1969
Photo Hugh Fisher

1970s

As The Australian Ballet School becomes more established future, The Australian Ballet Principal Artist Christine Walsh and current Artistic Director of The School, Lisa Pavane hone their skills.

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Lisa Pavane and Artists of The Australian Ballet, Études (Lander) 1986
Photo Branco Gaica

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David Ashmole and Christine Walsh, The Sleeping Beauty (Gielgud) 1988
Photo Anthony Crickmay

1980s

Superstars Steven Heathcote, Paul Mercurio, Lisa Bolte and future Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet David McAllister all train at The Australian Ballet School.

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Steven Heathcote and David McAllister, Gallery (Murphy) 1987
Photo David B Simmons

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David McAllister and Steven Heathcote with artists of The Australian Ballet School and The Dancers Company, 1980
Photo Jim McFarlane

1990s

Former The Australian Ballet Principal Artist Kirsty Martin was invited to perform at the Bolshoi Ballet in 2009, it all started in the 1990s at The Australian Ballet School.

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Kirsty Martin, The Sleeping Beauty (Gielgud) 1996
Photo Jim McFarlane

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Kirsty Martin, The Merry Widow (Hynd) 2011
Photo Jeff Busby

2000s

In what reads like a roll call of future Principal Artists, the 2000s saw Amber Scott, Amy Harris, Lana Jones, Adam Bull, Kevin Jackson, Robyn Hendricks, Ty King-Wall, Dimity Azoury, Chengwu Guo, Brett Chynoweth and Ako Kondo all graduate from The Australian Ballet School.

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Principal Artists Chengwu Guo and Ako Kondo, Swan Lake (Baynes) 2016
Photo Daniel Boud

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Principal Artist Brett Chynoweth, The Dream (Ashton) 2016
Photo Daniel Boud

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Adam Bull and Amber Scott with artists and guests of The Australian Ballet, Paragon (Topp) 2023
Photo Daniel Boud

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Ty King-Wall and Principal Artist Robyn Hendricks, Cinderella (Ratmansky), 2019
Photo Jeff Busby

2010s

The stars keep on coming with Benedicte Bemet, Callum Linnane, Marcus Morelli and Jill Ogai all graduating in the 2010s.

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Benedicte Bemet and Callum Linnane, Kunstkamer (León & Lightfoot & Pite & Goecke) 2022
Photo Daniel Boud

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Marcus Morelli with students of The Australian Ballet School, 2013
Photo Courtesy of The Australian Ballet School

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Principal Artists Jill Ogai Marcus Morelli, Don Quixote (Nureyev) 2023
Photo Christopher Rodgers Wilson

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Coco Mathieson, Jill Ogai, Benedicte Bemet and Jasmin Durham with students of The Australian Ballet School, 2011
Photo Courtesy of The Australian Ballet School

2020s

A new generation of ballet dancers enter the company from The Australian Ballet School. Amy Ronnfeldt, Charlie Young, Corey Gavan, Tully Cook, Jeremy Hargreaves, Macy Trethewey, Charlton Tough, Yary Xu and Isabella Smith join the ranks of The Australian Ballet Corps de Ballet in the 2020s.

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Artistic Director David Hallberg with The Australian Ballet's newest company members.
Photo The Australian Ballet

L-R Isabella Smith, Mia Heathcote, Victor Estevez, Alexandra Walton, David Hallberg, Alice McArthur, Yaru Xu, Laura Griffiths, Macy Trethewey and Davi Ramos

To learn more about The Australian Ballet School

The Australian Ballet School