The National Theatre Ballet was an intrinsic
part of the Melbourne-based National
Theatre Movement under the direction
of Gertrude Johnson. The Movement had
included dance performances in its seasons
as early as 1939 and had also presented
some early works of Edouard Borovansky.
The fully-fledged dance company, the
National Theatre Ballet (also known as
the National Theatre Ballet Company and
the Australian National Theatre Ballet
Company), however, did not give its premiere
performance until 1949 when it presented
a mixed bill comprising
Aurora's Wedding, Joyce
Romantic Suite, Jean Alexander's
Les Amours de Pierette and
The company's first artistic director
was the English dancer Joyce Graeme who
had remained in Australia following the
Ballet Rambert tour of 1947-1949. Over
the period of her directorship Graeme
produced a range of original ballets
including works by Kira Bousloff, Laurel
Martyn, Joanna Priest, Rex Reid and Graeme
herself. She also produced the first
full-length version of
Swan Lake to be performed
in Australia, which had its premiere
in Melbourne on 7 February 1951. Graeme's
directorship was also distinguished by
the premiere in Sydney of
Corroboree, a ballet choreographed
by Rex Reid to the music of John Antill.
Joyce Graeme returned to Europe in late
1951 and was succeeded in 1952 by Walter
Gore, another Rambert dancer. Gore introduced
a number of his own ballets as well as
staging several well-known classics.
The third director of the National Theatre
Ballet Company was Valrene Tweedie whose
first season took place in January 1953.
Under Tweedie's direction the company
presented, in particular, revivals of
works with which Tweedie was familiar
from her time with the Ballets Russes
companies in Australia and the Americas.
But by 1955 the company was no longer
a viable proposition and folded.