Help the performing arts recover

Discover the captivating variety and history of dance.

Explore a selection of fascinating stories and performances that have graced our stages. Take a closer look at unique objects from the Australian Performing Arts Collection; tracing the history of dance in Australia from the late nineteenth century to today.

This collection represents the works of many of Australia's major dance companies and individual performers. It spans a range of genres – from contemporary dance and ballet, to theatrical, modern, folk and social dance styles.

 

Spotlight


Industrial Strength Dance - Tap Dogs

 

Boots worn by Dein Perry in Tap Dogs, c.1990s
Gift of Dein Perry & Nigel Triffitt Management, 1999
Australian Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne


Industrial Strength Dance

Actor, dancer and choreographer, Dein Perry drew on the sights and sounds of the Newcastle Steel works and his early days as a fitter and turner to develop a new approach to tap dance. In 1995, Perry teamed up with Director Nigel Triffitt and together they took a group of rough, robust and technically accomplished tap dancers, most of them from Perry's home town of Newcastle, and in a 6 week rehearsal period turned them into Tap Dogs. Wearing jeans, flannelette shirts and Blundstone boots, the dancers created a distinctively Australian production that became an international hit and continues to thrill audiences around the world.

More info

 

Stories


Bringing Coppelia to life

Bringing 'Coppélia' to Life

The 19th century classic Coppélia is a long term favourite with ballet audiences. We reflect on the work of leading Australian designers Kenneth Rowell and Kristian Fredrikson who have helped bring the many charms of this fairy tale ballet to the stage.


Read

 


Knives, Swords, Spears and Tridents

Knives, Swords, Spears and Tridents

Explore the origins of the action-packed production of Spartacus and the pivotal role it’s played in The Australian Ballet’s repertoire since 1978.


Read

 

A Wardrobe Fit For A Very Merry Widow

A Wardrobe Fit For A Very Merry Widow

Dive into the glamorous production of The Australian Ballet’s The Merry Widow and explore the eloquent costumes that bring the story to life.


Read

 


Beyond Twelve

'Beyond Twelve': A compelling mix of things we’ve been missing, ballet, football and art

We tackle one of choreographer Graeme Murphy’s most beloved works, Beyond Twelve. For this iconic production, Murphy teamed up with visual artist Alan Oldfield to bring the suburban football field to The Australian Ballet stage.


Read

 

Designs from the Australian Ballet collection

Designs from The Australian Ballet Collection

We are digging deep into the glorious depths of The Australian Ballet Collection to bring you design highlights from acclaimed productions including Wong in Warumuk – in the dark night and Narrative of Nothing.


Read

 


From Stripped Back to Sculptural

From Stripped Back to Sculptural: The Art and Craft of Jennifer Irwin

Drawing on designs from The Australian Ballet Collection we go behind the scenes to discover more about Jennifer Irwin’s history with Graeme Murphy and Stephen Page and how she has learnt to realise their dreams.


Read

 

 

Watch


Tutu worn by Marilyn Jones in Ballet Imperial

Curator Margot Anderson reveals more to the story of this tutu by designer Kenneth Rowell and worn by Principal artist Marilyn Jones in Ballet Imperial.

 

Objects

Explore historical dance objects in our Collection.


Angelic Inspiration

Angelic Inspiration

Helen Herbertson took on the directorship of Melbourne's Dance Works in 1992 and produced some of the company's most visually stunning productions. Much of her inspiration for In the Company of Angels was drawn from the sculpture of August Rodin; and Herbertson was keen to integrate this imagery into her work. Designer Wiggy Brennan gathered tea-dyed lengths of stretch fabric to create textured, form-fitting dresses that were then overlaid with giant canvas pinafores. The colour, texture, weight and volume of the combined costume components had a major impact on Herbertson’s approach to the choreography and also informed aspects of the set design.

Gift of Dance Works, 2004
Australian Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne


Explore

 


A Royal Cloak

A Royal Cloak

King Roger is considered the most ornate of Sydney Dance Company's productions. Choreographer Graeme Murphy chose to set the work to Polish composer Karol Szymanowski’s music for the opera King Roger. Murphy also worked with designer Kristian Fredrikson to create costumes that were rich in Byzantine imagery.

The swirling motion of his expansive cloaks, and skirts combined with layers of richly coloured trims heightened the overall effect of opulence and pageantry. It also created extra weight for the dancers to contend with, an adjustment Murphy considered to be "right for the work, the work needs that weight – even the air is heavy with incense."

Gift of Sydney Dance Company, 2008
Australian Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne


Explore

 


Statement Footwear

Statement Footwear

Colin Peasley joined The Australian Ballet when the company was formed in 1962. He was chosen to play the role of Gamache in Rudolf Nureyev’s Don Quixote, when it premiered in 1970, and quickly made the appearances of this delightfully flamboyant fop a highlight of the production.

Peasley recalls the first time he was presented to Nureyev in costume as Gamache and the hysterics that followed as he insisted more frills and ribbons be added for extra comic effect.

Gift of the Australian Ballet, 2012
Australian Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne


Explore

 


Set model for the Horse Racing scene in The Sentimental Bloke

The Sentimental Bloke

In 1985, Robert Ray choreographed an adaptation of C.J. Dennis’ poem "The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke" for The Australian Ballet, set to music by Albert Arlen and John Lanchbery. The poem charts the story of a fellow named Bill and a young woman he falls in love with named Doreen. Bill vows to abandon his larrikin lifestyle of drinking and gambling in pursuit of a life of contentment with the object of his affections. Designer Kenneth Rowell created this set model for the scene where Doreen and Bill take an outing to Flemington Racecourse for the Melbourne Cup.

Australian Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre Melbourne


Explore

 

 

Go to the top