The Australian Ballet

Sydney Opera House

From the classics to contemporary dance - and with Swan Lake as its talisman - The Australian Ballet continues to navigate the past, present and future of an august art form.

The Australian Ballet has been delivering extraordinary performances for more than 50 years, since its first full-length performance of Swan Lake in 1962. Where Australian audiences once had to wait for the next tour of Anna Pavlova, the Borovansky Ballet or another in the Ballets Russes tradition, they now have this home-grown and renowned company, which tours the nation and the world. And Swan Lake - reimagined for The Australian Ballet by Graeme Murphy for its 40th Anniversary in 2002 and by Stephen Baynes’ traditional production for its 50th in 2012 - remains a firm favourite at home and abroad.

As those productions show, the company has been both daringly contemporary and careful with the classic repertoire under Artistic Director and former Principal Artist David McAllister AM. A commitment to excellence, a spirited approach and a willingness to take risks have defined the company, both onstage and off, from its earliest days through artistic directors such as Peggy van Praagh, Robert Helpmann, Anne Woolliams and Maina Gielgud.

Supporting 70 acclaimed dancers, a network of elite artisans works tirelessly behind the scenes to create the splendour you see on stage – costumes are made with couture-like the care. The company also includes trainers and physical therapists, marketers, musicians, digital and education specialists. Together they present more than 250 shows and 1000 events each year.

Moving effortlessly between the great classical ballets and contemporary commissions, the company creates a uniquely Australian beauty powered by athleticism. As it embarks on its second half-century, The Australian Ballet is poised to reach more audiences than ever, both at home and abroad.

A preview of David McAllister’s 2015 production of The Sleeping Beauty, starring principal artists Lana Jones and Kevin Jackson.

Maina Gielgud, The Australian Ballet's artistic director from 1983 to 1996, on Giselle.

A graduate of the Australian Ballet School, Perth-born David McAllister joined the Australian Ballet in 1983. He was promoted to senior artist in 1986 and to principal artist in 1989.

His many principal roles with the company included those in Onegin, Romeo and Juliet, La Fille mal gardée, The Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, The Sentimental Bloke, Coppélia, Manon, La Sylphide, Sinfonietta and Stepping Stones.

In 1985 he won a bronze medal at the Fifth International Ballet Competition in Moscow, after which he was invited to return to the USSR as a guest artist where he made numerous appearances with the Bolshoi Ballet, the Kirov Ballet, the Georgian State Ballet and other companies.

Jade Wood, Jasmin Durham and Imogen Chapman in a publicity shoot for Imperial Suite.

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Created by Sam Doust and the
Sydney Opera House GCI Team


The Australian Ballet

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