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50th Anniversary Year of The Australian Ballet

The Australian Ballet Society celebrated the 50th Birthday of The Australian Ballet with some of its regular and popular functions plus a few extra functions to highlight the special year that was 2012 for our national Ballet company.

Meet the New Dancers - February 2012:

David McAllister introduced six new dancers.  Five of these dancers trained with The Australian Ballet School – Benedicte Bemet, Joseph Chapman, Jasman Durham, Brodie James and Jill Ogai. Christopher Rodgers-Wilson completed his final training at the Royal Ballet School.  Under David’s gentle and funny questioning, all  these young professionals spoke enthusiastically of their ambitions for the future,  they told us of their backgrounds and it was a happy evening all round.

Parents’ Access Day (The Australian Ballet School) March 2012:

This was a very busy day with parents and families filling the Ballet Centre and taking the opportunity to see their youngsters in class.

Gailene Stock and Gary Norman – April 2012:

This was a very special function when we welcomed back to the Ballet Centre two former Principal Artists of The Australian Ballet.  Gailene was Director of The Australian Ballet School for over 10 years when she was head-hunted to be Director of The Royal Ballet School by its Board and has held that position for 14 years.  Gary has been the Senior Classical Teacher at RBS as well.  It was fascinating to listen and compare the different experiences they have had working in both famous ballet Schools; very challenging and exciting times for them both.  The Ballet Centre was packed with Members and their friends to meet up with these two great Australian talents once again.  A great evening.

Tim and More (Tim Harbour, Justine Summers and Steven Heathcote) May 2012:


Our three guests talked about Tim’s new work Sweedeedee which is part of the Let’s Dance programme.  Actually they talked about lots of things because the audience took the opportunity to ask questions of Justine and Steven about how they were coping with their return to the stage.  Of course, they were enjoying themselves immensely and it showed.  Mia Heathcote joined her Dad, Steven, on the podium as she is in the new ballet and that could be an historic occasion, which only the future will know!

Morning Melodies Studio Rehearsal: May 2012:
The Dancers Company: Performance at Frankston Centre:  July 2012:
Creating Swan Lake – Stephen Baynes:  July 2012:

Stephen and David McAllister gave insights into the new production of this majestic work and it produced lots of questions and discussion between both men and the audience.  They promised a few surprises but the same gorgeous music and choreographic beauty. Members were intrigued and looking forward to seeing the new work which celebrates the 50th Birthday of The Australian Ballet.

Colin Peasley, OAM  - 50 years with The Australian Ballet: August 2012 :


This was a unique occasion when the Members of the Ballet Society were entertained by Colin, as he has done so many times and then, gave him honour on his 50 years of service to ballet and dance in Australia and beyond.  At the end of his wonderful talk complete with reminiscences and anecdotes, the Ballet Society President  gave a short address about the ‘wonders’ of Colin including the word ‘support’ which he has demonstrated many times towards the Ballet Society.
She then presented to Colin a magnificently bronzed jock-strap encased in acrylic and mounted on a timber stand as a symbol of his long-time support.  As the audience cheered, applauded and laughed, Colin, for once, was just about speechless.  It was such a funny, happy function!

Cranlana Function with David McAllister and Colin Peasley: 50th Birthday! August 2012:


This was a special 50th Birthday Celebration held at what was the Myer Family Home. Lady Southey very generously gave the Ballet Society the use of this delightful home and more than one hundred guests enjoyed lots of memories from David and Colin.  Amber Scott, Brett Chynoweth, Jessica Fyfe, Benedicte Bemet and Jill Ogai mingled with the guests for afternoon refreshments and wine and it was a most successful way to remember 50 years of dancing.

‘The Display’ function with Barry Kitcher, the original Lyrebird: September 2012:


kitcher_lyrebird_2012Barry spent most of his life in the theatre, either on the stage as a dancer with Borovansky Ballet and The Australian Ballet or as a Theatre Manager.  He spoke about the challenge of being the first dancer to squeeze into the Lyrebird costume  
in the famous Robert Helpmann 1964 production of The Display.  Michael Williams, Manager of Costume Production, supplied the original and the new Lyrebird costume so that we could compare the weight and technology used to build them.  The dancers certainly have it easier in 2012 than Barry did in 1964. How did he move in it?  He had to use his imagination and strength with advice from the Production Department (such as it was in those days!)

50 Years of Costumes Function with Michael Williams and Barbara Langley:  October  2012:


Michael is Production Manager, Wardrobe and Barbara  is Wardrobe Manager, Store and their experience with costumes is unique and quite extraordinary.  Between them they possess an encyclopaedic knowledge of the thousands of costumes which make up The Australian Ballet wardrobe store.  As a result the audience got to see a display of costumes with hats and head-gear, plus all the bibs and bobs which go to make a theatrical costume from every year since the Company commenced in 1962.  What a show it was.
It was also an opportunity to farewell Barbara who is retiring after 35 years with the Company.  She has endeared herself to all who have had dealings with her over those years and she will be sorely missed.  But retirement happens to everyone eventually and Barbara will be kept busy in many directions I feel sure. Both Michael and Barbara are Honorary Life Members of the Ballet Society and are very proud of that appointment.


The rest of Year 2012!   Class on Stage;  Public Access Day;  ‘Out There’ Function; Chloes’ (Young and Jackson) Christmas Lunch;  plus a couple of Trading Tables and several dress rehearsals, Saturday matinees and a Preview throughout the year – it certainly was a very busy celebratory year for The Australian Ballet Society.

Josie Woodgate, OAM

The Australian Ballet Society Inc.


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