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A Tribute to Dame Margaret

by The Australian Ballet School |

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On the 24 February our Founding Director, Dame Margaret Scott AC DBE, peacefully passed away.

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Dame Margaret began her professional dance career with Sadler’s Wells Ballet in London, where she was appointed Principal in 1941. She soon joined Ballet Rambert, also in London, and was Principal from 1943 to 1948. She arrived in Australia in 1947 as part of Ballet Rambert’s overseas tour and chose to remain.

Dame Margaret was a founding member of the National Theatre Ballet in Melbourne and danced in its early seasons as Principal. In the late 1950s, she was involved in negotiations with the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust, which led to the formation of The Australian Ballet. In 1964, she was appointed Founding Director of The Australian Ballet School, and continued in that role until 1990. 

She was invested as a Dame Commander of the British Empire (DBE) in 1981 for services to ballet. This followed the earlier award of an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1976. In 2005, she was honoured as a Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AC).

Her legacy lives on in the thousands of students she nurtured as Founding Director of The Australian Ballet School. Many of whom went onto making their own indelible mark in dance in Australia and beyond - including The Australian Ballet’s Artistic Director David McAllister AM, the School’s third Director Marilyn Rowe AM OBE, and current Director Lisa Pavane. She had a great passion for choreographic development. Choreographer Graeme Murphy AO was also one of her protégés.

We are incredibly sad to lose one of Australia’s greatest ever dance educators. She was a visionary and Australia’s great ballet tradition would not be what it is today without her pioneering work.” Leigh Johns OAM, Chair of the Board of Directors, The Australian Ballet School.

Dame MargaretFrom fostering the development of a distinctive Australian classical style and curriculum, through to the establishment of the School’s administration and facilities, Dame Margaret set the foundations of The Australian Ballet School, paving the way for the School to become one of the world’s top ballet training schools. It is impossible to tell the story of dance in Australia without her. As the founding Director of The Australian Ballet School she guided its development for almost three decades. As a student under her tutelage and care during the late 70s, I am indebted to her passion, dedication and commitment. She was my teacher, friend and mentor and I am deeply honoured to carry on her incredible legacy.” Lisa Pavane, Director, The Australian Ballet School.


Above photos are from The Australian Ballet School Archives

The 2 March was the School’s 55th Anniversary, we celebrated during the week with the students and staff. We held an assembly beginning with a minute silence in honour of Dame Margaret, remembering everything she has done for the School.

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