1. List: Swan Lake (Australian context)
    Swan Lake (Australian context) thumbnail image

    The first full-length staging of Swan Lake on Australian soil took place in 1951, presented by the National Theatre Ballet and opening at the Princess Theatre, Melbourne, on 7 February with Lynne Golding and Henry Danton in the leading roles. Prior to this, Australian audiences had become familiar with various stagings based on Act II of the work. As early as 1934, Olga Spessivtseva and Anatole Vilzak danced the leading Act II roles during the Dandre-Levitoff Russian Ballet tour. An abridged one-act version, based on Act II, also appeared (billed as Le lac des cygnes) on programs of the touring de Basil Russian Ballet companies between 1936 and 1940 when glamorous stars like Tamara Toumanova, Irina Baronova, Helene Kirsova, Anton Dolin, Paul Petroff and Serge Lifar danced the leading roles. After the Ballets Russes stagings, a version of Act II was performed in the 1940s by the Kirsova Ballet with Peggy Sager and Paul Hammond in the lead and then by the Borovansky Ballet when artists like Edna Busse, Laurel Martyn and Serge Bousloff had starring roles. But the National's full-length production in 1951 marked the beginning of a succession of Australian versions of the full-length ballet.

    Edouard Borovansky staged his full-length version in 1957. Program notes indicate that the 'present choreography' and production were by Charles Dickson and that designs were by Anne Fraser. The Borovansky Swan Lake opened in Adelaide on 5 April. The role of Odette/Odile was shared during the season by the company's top dancers including ballerinas Kathleen Gorham, Peggy Sager and Mary Gelder and male artists Robert Pomie and Vassilie Trunoff.

    Then Peggy van Praagh produced a full-length Swan Lake for the inaugural season of the Australian Ballet in 1962. Choreography was credited to Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with the production referred to as having been revised by van Praagh and Ray Powell. Designs were those of Anne Fraser and were those used in the Borovansky Ballet production. Opening night was in Sydney at Her Majesty's Theatre on 2 November. In the lead were guest artists Sonia Arova and Erik Bruhn with Australian dancers Marilyn Jones and Kathleen Gorham alternating with Arova in subsequent shows and Garth Welch and Caj Selling alternating with Bruhn. The van Praagh production remained in the repertoire for a decade and a half. Over that period it served as a vehicle for the technical and dramatic talents of the Australian Ballet's finest artists, and frequently showcased the company's guest stars, including Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev who danced van Praagh's full-length production in 1964.

    Anne Woolliams, the third artistic director of the Australian Ballet, produced a new version of Swan Lake in 1977. Designed by Tom Lingwood it opened on 19 October at the Palais Theatre, Melbourne, with Marilyn Rowe and Kelvin Coe in the lead. Woolliams created new choreography for Acts I and IV of this production, retained the Ivanov choreography for Act II and had Ray Powell create new character dances for Act III. In her program notes Woolliams wrote: 'This production tries to avoid the trend of changing traditional ballets solely in order to be different. On the other hand, any attempt to reproduce what is believed to be an authentic version usually has a museum quality of interest only to historians'. The Woolliams production, with its dramatic logic, brooding designs and clearly patterned choreography for the corps de ballet remained in the repertoire for twenty-five years.

    Graeme Murphy's radical and hugely successful reworking of Swan Lake for the Australian Ballet opened on 17 September 2002 at the State Theatre, Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne. Leading the cast were Simone Goldsmith as Odette, Steven Heathcote as Siegfried and Margaret Illmann as the Baroness von Rothbart. The concept, which moved the story beyond its traditional Gothic narrative, was developed by the creative team of Murphy, Janet Vernon and Kristian Fredrikson, who also designed the work. The Murphy Swan Lake, its production team and cast won several awards in 2003. They included a Green Room Award for concept and realisation, two Helpmann Awards, one for choreography and one for design, and two Australian Dance Awards, one for choreography and one for best performance by a female dancer (Simone Goldsmith). The work was restaged for an 'encore season' in 2004, opening at the Sydney Opera House on 27 April with Madeleine Eastoe as Odette, Steven Heathcote as Siegfried and Lynette Wills as the Baroness von Rothbart. It was performed by the Australian Ballet in London and Cardiff in 2005, earning the company the 2005 UK Critics' Circle Award for 'Best Foreign Dance Company', and to critical acclaim in Shanghai in 2006, Tokyo in 2007, and Paris and Manchester in 2008.


    The making of the Anne Woolliams production of Swan Lake is documented in Michael Cook, Swan Lake: the making of a ballet (Sydney: Golden Press, 1978). Graeme Murphy's 2002 reworking of Swan Lake for the Australian Ballet is discussed in depth by Lee Christofis in 'Odette's evolving nightmare', Brolga 18 (June 2003), pp. 7-19. This article includes a detailed synopsis.

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  1. [Australian Ballet performance of Swan lake, swans, March 1991] Don McMurdo
    McMurdo, Don, 1930-2001
    [ Photograph : 1991 ]
    View online
    At National Library
    [Australian Ballet performance of Swan lake, swans, March 1991] Don McMurdo
  2. Geoffrey Ingram archive of Australian ballet
    Ingram, Geoffrey, 1924-2003
    [ Photograph : 1926-1980 ]
    Languages: No linguistic content
    View online
    At National Library
    Geoffrey Ingram archive of Australian ballet
  3. Dame Peggy van Praagh collection
    [ Photograph : 1912-1990 ]
    Languages: No linguistic content
    View online
    At National Library
    Dame Peggy van Praagh collection

    2010-08-11 11:09:36.0

    This collection includes colour slides of Dame Margot Fonteyn and Garth Welch rehearsing for Swan Lake in Canberra

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  4. Hugh P. Hall collection of photographs, 1938-1940 / Hugh P. Hall
    Hall, Hugh P
    [ Photograph : 1938-1940 ]
    View online
    At National Library
    Hugh P. Hall collection of photographs, 1938-1940 / Hugh P. Hall

    2010-08-11 11:10:53.0

    This is a collection of photographs taken by Hugh P. Hall of 30 ballet productions performed by the Covent Garden Russian Ballet (toured Australia 1938-1939) and the Original Ballet Russe (toured Australia 1939-1940). The photographs were taken from a seat in the circle of His Majesty's Theatre, Melbourne and mounted on cardboard for display purposes. For conservation and storage, the photographs have been demounted. The original arrangement of the photographs has been recorded, and details are available from the Pictures Branch of the National Library. The collection comprises photographs of performances of the following ballets: Les presages; Symphonie fantastique; Les cent baisers; Le coq d'or; Petrouchka; L'apres-midi d'un faune; Cendrillon; The Firebird; Paganini; Francesca da Rimini; Icare; La concurrence; Jeux d'enfants; Graduation Ball; Scuola di ballo; Le Danube bleu; The Prodigal Son; Swan Lake; Le carnaval; Cotillon; Scheherazade; Union Pacific; Les dieux mendiants; Les femmes de bonne humeur; Prince Igor; Les Sylphides; Papillons; Protee; Aurora's Wedding; Le spectre de la rose.

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  5. W.F. Stringer collection / Walter Stringer
    Stringer, Walter, 1907-2001
    [ Photograph : 1940-1992 ]
    View online
    At National Library
    W.F. Stringer collection / Walter Stringer
  6. Laurel Martyn as Odette in Swan Lake (Act 2), 1944 / Ronald Esler
    Esler, Ronald
    [ Photograph : 1944 ]
    View online
    At National Library
    Laurel Martyn as Odette in Swan Lake (Act 2), 1944 / Ronald Esler
  7. [Biographical cuttings on Anne Woolliams, choreographer and dancer, containing one or more cuttings from newspapers or journals]
    [ Published : 1900-1990 ]
    At National Library

    2010-08-11 12:27:42.0

    A selection of press articles from various Australian newspapers relating to Woolliams' career, including articles relating to her involvement with the Australian Ballet and the Victorian College of the Arts, School of Dance. Also included are articles relating to her 1977 production of Swan Lake.

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  8. Andrew Guild interviewed by Bill Stephens
    Guild, Andrew, 1946-
    [ Sound : 2006 ]
    At National Library

    2010-08-11 12:30:33.0

    Andrew Guild, born 1946 in Chester, England, talks about his family background and migration to Australia in 1949; childhood in Tasmania and Victoria; his first theatre role, as the Artful Dodger in J.C.Williamson's "Oliver" at 14; Johnny Lockwood; Sheila Bradley; playing the Crown Prince in "The King and I"; John Truscott; working for the Garnett H. Carroll Organization and at the Princess Theatre; the value of the training received from the Carroll Organisation; tour-managing "Any Wednesday" for it's season at the Canberra Theatre Centre; working with publicist, Bill Gordon; the power of reviewers; becoming involved in the Edgley Organisation in the 1960s and his first project with the Organisation; the musical "Robert and Elizabeth"; his involvement in the "Summer Festival of Musicals" run by Brett Adams; the move by Edgley's into presenting classical ballet in 1969; Alexander Godunoff; meeting his wife, Russian ballerina Ai-Gul Gaisina; describes the tour of the Leningrad Kirov Ballet; Edgley's marketing philosophy; becoming a shareholder in Edgely's in the mid 1980s; learning Russian language; the tours in Australia of ballerina Maya Plisetskaya; the importance of good theatres to the success of the tours; the logistics of bringing out a Russian dance company or a circus. Guild talks about the decline in the reputation of circuses in Australia; the method for assembling a modern Russian circus for an Australian tour; the effect of Cirque du Soleil on the public perception of the modern circus; the Edgley tours of Margot Fonteyn; obtaining permission to marry Ai-Gul Gaisina, their wedding, and the problems getting an exit visa for her; Ai-Gul's career with the Australian Ballet; his involvement in the Nureyev tours of Australia; Torvill and Dean's tour of Australia; working with Marcel Marceau; the trend towards Arts Centres taking on an entreprenaurial role in presenting dance companies; the acceptability of presenting animal acts in circus and the changes brought about by the withdrawal of animal acts in the presentation of the Moscow circuses; the National Institute of Circus Arts, and his role on the Board; touring the London Festival Ballet; the Edgley arena versions of "Swan Lake" and "Romeo and Juliet"; the presentation by the Edgley Organisation of Cirque du Soleil in Australia; current changes in marketing strategies for entertainment; the effects of changes in technology on ticket sales; the Edgley Organisation's involvement in film production; the involvement of Edgley's in the tours of "The Three Tenors" and the Stuttgart Ballet; working with Bette Davis; presenting the "The Cambridge Revue"; the arena version of "Aida".

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  9. Lynne Golding interviewed by Michelle Potter in the Keep dancing oral history project
    Golding, Lynne, 1920-2008
    [ Sound : 2001 ]
    View online
    At National Library
    Lynne Golding interviewed by Michelle Potter in the Keep dancing oral history project

    2010-08-11 12:31:46.0

    Lynne Golding discusses her role in the first full length Swan Lake in Australia for the National Theatre Ballet. The recording includes a discussion of Golding's approach to the interpretation of the role of Odette/Odile. Other material relates to Golding's dance training, including her work with Leon Kellaway in Australia and with Olga Preobrajenska in Paris, her family background, her work in Tivoli productions, and her career overseas. She also gives her recollections of the Ballets Russes visits to Australia and talks about her own choreography especially that made for Perth City Ballet.

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  10. Australian Ballet. (1962-2018)
  11. Baronova, Irina (1919-)
  12. Borovansky Ballet. (1939-1961)
  13. Bousloff, Serge
  14. Busse, Edna (-2019)
    Dancer; Teacher; Performer; Actor; Unknown
  15. Coe, Kelvin (-1992)
    Dancer; Choreographer; Performer; Director; Singer; Teacher
  16. Fonteyn, Margot (-1991)
    Dancer; Performer
  17. Fredrikson, Kristian (-2005)
    Costume Designer; Designer; Set Designer; Scenario; Devisor; Actor; Costume Maker; Production Designer; Choreographer
  18. Golding, Lynne (1920-)
  19. Gorham, Kathleen Ann (-1983)
    Dancer; Actor
  20. Heathcote, Steven (1964-)
  21. Jones, Marilyn Fay (1940-)
    Dancer; Teacher; Artistic Director; Choreographer; Associate Director; Performer
  22. Kirsova, Hélène (1911-1962)
    Prima Ballerina; Choreographer; Dancer; Stage Director; Artistic Director; Ballet Master/Mistress
  23. Kirsova Ballet. (1941-1943)
  24. Martyn, Laurel (-2013)
    Choreographer; Dancer; Director; Producer; Assistant Director; Artistic Director; Performer; Stage Director
  25. Murphy, Graeme (1950-)
    Artistic Director; Choreographer; Dancer; Devisor; Director; Designer; Creator; Scenario; Costume Designer; Original Director; Set Designer; Presenter; Composer; Lighting Designer; Producer; Adaptor
  26. Petroff, Paul (1908-1981)
  27. Pomie, Robert (1933-1991)
  28. Powell, Ray (-2003)
    Ballet dancers; Dance teachers; Choreographers; Choreographer; Compere; Dancer; Producer; Ballet Master/Mistress; Costume Designer; Associate Director; Adaptor; Assistant Director; Artistic Director; Director
  29. Rowe, Marilyn (1946-)
    Dancer; Teacher; Dance Group; Dance Director; Artistic Director; Assistant Director; Director
  30. Sager, Peggy (-2002)
  31. Spessivtseva, Olga (1895-1991)
  32. Toumanova, Tamara (1919-1996)
    Dancer; Dance Group
  33. Trunoff, Vassilie (1929-1985)
  34. Van Praagh, Peggy (1910-1990)
    Dancer; Director; Educator; Writer; Producer; Ballet Dancer; Teacher; Administrator
  35. Vernon, Janet
    Artistic Director; Dancer; Assistant Choreographer; Creative Director; Creator; Scenario; Devisor; Choreographer; Associate Director; Associate Artist
  36. Woolliams, Anne (-1999)
    Choreographer; Director; Dance Director; Production Designer; Devisor; Producer; Artistic Director; Regisseur; Production Manager; Stage Director