The Australian Ballet School, the school of The Australian Ballet, is the national centre for excellence in classical dance training in Australia.
In 2014 The Australian Ballet School celebrated 50 years of excellence in classical dance training and education.
It all started In the declining days of the Borovansky Ballet; a group of enthusiastic and talented dancers, choreographers, designers and musicians gathered at the home of Margaret Scott and her husband, Derek Denton, to talk about the need of a national dance company supported by a strong and independent school.
In 1962, while Peggy van Praagh was overseas, Margaret Scott was commissioned by The Elizabethan Theatre Trust to prepare a report on the possible founding of a national school to complement the newly established Australian Ballet. The submission was successful and in 1964 Margaret Scott was appointed the School’s first Director.
The School came into being through the advocacy of Dame Margaret Scott and formed part of Dame Peggy van Praagh’s Artistic Policy for the future of dance in Australia: to establish a school for professional dance students that would work to develop a national style and directly provide the Company with trained dancers; therefore, providing select students with ‘specialised professional training in ballet and the allied theatre arts’. In March 1964 the School opened its doors to the first students, just 15 months after the formation of The Australian Ballet.
The Australian Ballet School’s aim is to produce artistic, educated and outstanding dancers of international standard. Under its first three individual and inspiring Directors – Dame Margaret Scott AC DBE, Gailene Stock CBE AM, and Marilyn Rowe OBE – it has remained the national centre for elite vocational classical dance training. Under its newest Director Lisa Pavane the School continues to train dancers of the highest calibre for The Australian Ballet and professional companies in Australia and around the world. Many of its graduates have gone on to pursue distinguished careers in dance, teaching, choreography and artistic direction.
Working in close liaison in the purpose-built facilities of The Australian Ballet Centre located in Melbourne’s vibrant arts precinct, the School and Company continue to share the same long term goal: a truly unique Australian Ballet with a distinctive style of its own. Nowhere, but in the school of the national company, can a unique company style be fostered and developed.
Most dancers in The Australian Ballet are graduates of The Australian Ballet School, including Artistic Director, David McAllister AM. Graduates can also be found as principals and soloists in major companies throughout the world. Such is the standard of excellence that within six months of graduating, 90% of students gain contracts. This is one of the highest employment rates of any tertiary institution in Australia.
The influence of the School permeates many dance related areas. For instance, choreographic talent has been nurtured over the years with graduates such as Graeme Murphy AM, Meryl Tankard, Stephen Baynes, Gideon Obarzanek, Leigh Warren, Adrian Burnett, Louise Deleur and Lucas Jervies all having distinguished international reputations. The creative influence of the School continues today with graduates, Tim Harbour, Paul Knobloch, Timothy Brown, Wakako Asano, David Jonathan, Reed Luplau and Tim O’Donnell all in the process of establishing their choreographic credentials. The School is also fortunate to have respected choreographers Simon Dow and Margaret Wilson on staff.