van Praagh, Margaret, (Dame) (1910-1990)

Also known as
Praagh, Peggy van (1910-1990)
Van Praagh, Margaret, (Dame, DBE, OBE, FISTD) (1910-1990)
Van Praagh, Margaret (1910-1990)
Van Praagh, Peggy, (Dame) (1910-1990)
van Praagh, Peggy (1910-1990)
Van Praagh, Peggy (1910-1990)
Field of activity
Ballet dancer; Choreographer; Teacher; Dancer; Director; Educator; Writer; Producer; Ballet Dancer; Administrator
Libraries Australia
http://nla.gov.au/anbd.aut-an35796751
NLA Persistent Identifier
https://nla.gov.au/nla.party-568846

Biographies

Dame Margaret (Peggy) van Praagh (1910–1990), ballet dancer, producer, director, teacher and administrator, was born on 1 September 1910 at Hampstead, London, younger child of Harold John van Praagh,...

View the full record at Australian Dictionary of Biography

Born in London, Dame Peggy van Praagh had a long and distinguished career in ballet as a dancer, teacher, producer, advocate and director. She came to Australia in 1959 to direct the Borovansky Ballet, and was instrumental in establishing the Australian Ballet in 1962. She was artistic director of the Australian Ballet from 1962-1974 and again in 1978. Dame Peggy received much recognition for her services to ballet, including her appointment to the Order of the British Empire (OBE, 1966) and as Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE, 14 June 1970).

Peggy van Praagh was educated at King Alfred School, London. She studied dance in London, and danced with Ballet Rambert and Sadler's Wells from 1933-1945 before moving into teaching at Sadler's Wells Dance Theatre, 1945-1956. She then undertook freelance teaching and producing in Germany, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Holland and USA 1956-1960.

Van Praagh became artistic director of the Borovansky Ballet in Australia in 1960. She became a Fellow of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (London), 1933, and a member of the Royal Academy of Dancing, 1969; received an Hon D Litt (University of New England), 1974; DBE 1970; OBE 1965; Queen Elizabeth Coronation Prize; Special Artist's Award, Australia Council, 1975; Britannica Australia Award for Arts 1970; and was made an honorary life member of the Australian Ballet Foundation, 1979.

  • Inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women

View the full record at Australian Women's Register

Peggy van Praagh was first artistic director of the Australian Ballet. She held the position from 1962, the year of the company's inception, until 1974, sharing it with Robert Helpmann between 1965 and 1974. She returned to direct the company again during 1978.

Van Praagh began dancing very early in her life. As little more than a toddler she was performing at charity functions and by age six she was attracting press coverage:

At last night's concert a dainty extra was a very charming dance by little Peggy van Praagh ... Peggy is only six but she is quite a clever little artiste and is booked again for Saturday's matinee by request.

Van Praagh's career as a professional dancer began when she joined Ballet Rambert in 1933. Later she also danced with Antony Tudor's London Ballet and with Rambert and London Ballet van Praagh created roles and performed in some of Tudor's best known works including Lilac Garden, Dark Elegies, Gala Performance, Soiree musicale and The Planets. In the early years of World War II van Praagh was heavily involved in staging lunch time ballet shows called Ballet for a Bob, which attracted large audiences of civilian and military personnel. In 1941 she was employed by Ninette de Valois largely to teach company classes for Sadler's Wells Ballet, although van Praagh also danced in a number of company productions including Les Patineurs, Comus and Coppelia in which she danced the leading role of Swanilda. She also taught extensively and staged ballets throughout England and in Canada, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway in the 1950s. Her time as artistic director of the Australian Ballet followed on from this career as a dancer, teacher and director and from a brief period, following the death of Edouard Borovansky in 1959, directing the Borovansky Ballet in Australia in 1960 and 1961.

Under van Praagh's direction the Australian Ballet made the first of many overseas tours, developed a repertoire of ballets that included works from the established international repertoire as well as commissioned works from Australian and overseas choreographers, and hosted guest appearances by a number of notable dancers including Sonia Arova, Erik Bruhn, Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev. While with the Australian Ballet she also nurtured the development of Australian choreographers including Graeme Murphy, Ian Spink, John Meehan and Leigh Warren.

Van Praagh was also an educator and a tireless advocate for dance. During her career in Australia, along with Bernard James of the University of New England's continuing education program, she was instrumental in organising a series of summer schools in dance that had a long-lasting influence on dance in Australia. She also helped establish the advocacy body, Ausdance (formerly Australian Association for Dance Education). In 1982 she was coordinator of dance studies at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, Edith Cowan University, Perth. She was posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame at the 2000 Australian Dance Awards.

In 2010, the Australian Ballet will mark the centenary year of van Praagh's birth in a tribute program entitled 'Peggy!'.

For a discussion of van Praagh's career in Australia as reflected in her personal papers held in the National Library of Australia see Documenting Australian Dance: The Peggy van Praagh Collection in National Library of Australia News, January 2000.

For more on van Praagh's involvement with the University of New England summer schools see The Armidale Summer Schools in National Library of Australia News, April 2002.

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Resources for Margaret van Praagh

Selected resources (15)

Australian Women's Register

  1. Van Praagh, Margaret
    Published: National Foundation for Australian Women
    Series: IspartOf The Australian Women's Register
  2. van Praagh, Dame Margaret (Peggy) (1910-1990)
    Sexton, Christopher
    Published: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University
    Series: IspartOf Australian Dictionary of Biography
  3. The Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in Twentieth-Century Australia
    Smart, Judith and Swain, Shurlee (eds.)
    [2014]
    Published: Australian Women's Archives Project
  4. Ballet in Australia
    Van Praagh, Margaret
    [Melbourne]
    Published: Longmans
  5. The arts in Australia - ballet
    Van Praagh, Margaret
    [Melbourne]
    Published: Longmans
  6. The choreographic art; an outline of its principles and craft
    Van Praagh, Margaret and Brinson, Peter
    [London]
    Published: Adam and Charles Black
  7. How I became a ballet dancer
    Van Praagh, Margaret
    [London]
    Published: Nelson
  8. Fourth Ausdance Dame Peggy van Praagh Memorial Address
    Tankard, Meryl
    [Braddon, ACT]
    Published: Australian Dance Council
    Series: IspartOf New dance from old cultures : Green Mill papers 1996Crusader Hillis and Urszula Dawkins
  9. Guide to the Papers of Peggy van Praagh
    National Library of Australia
  10. Van Praagh, Peggy (1910-1990)
    National Library of Australia
    [2002]
    Published: National Library of Australia
    Series: IspartOf The Australian Dance Collection : a Directory of ResourcesNational Library of Australia
  11. Peggy van Praagh - a life of dance
    Sexton, Christopher
    [South Melbourne]
    Published: Macmillan
  12. Faith, Hope and Charity Australian Women and Imperial Honours: 1901-1989
    Australian Women's Archives Project
    [2003]
    Published: Australian Women's Archives Project
  13. Documenting Australian Dance: The Peggy van Praagh Collection
    Potter, M.
    [2000]
    Series: IspartOf National Library of Australia News
  14. Who's Who of Australian Women
    Lofthouse, Andrea
    [North Ryde (NSW)]
    Published: Methuen Australia
  15. Papers of Dame Peggy van Praagh, 1912-1986 [manuscript]
    [7 m : 1912 - 1986]
    Series: National Library of Australia, Manuscript Collection
    The papers in MS 7223 provide a record of Peggy van Praagh's long and distinguished career as a dancer, teacher, producer and director of ballet. They include personal and business correspondence, diaries, newscuttings, photographs, first night messages, theatre programs, greeting cards, postcards, journal articles, reports and other memorabilia. Personal correspondents include friends such as John (Jay) Sweet and there are also many messages of congratulations from admirers and fans. Business correspondents include J.C. Williamson and the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust. The collection includes a copy of Gala performance, edited by Arnold Haskell, Mark Bonham Carter and Michael Wood, with a foreword by H.R.H. The Princess Margaret (London: Collins, 1955). This 248 page "Record of the Sadler's Wells Ballet over twenty-five years" (cover title) is signed by Princess Margaret, and by members of the Ballet (22 boxes, 9 fol. Boxes). The Acc06.092 instalment comprises letters from C.W. Beaumont and Marie Rambert, and programs and press clippings relating to van Praagh's career and various ballet companies (1 binder).
    MS 7223

Resources by Margaret van Praagh (33)

  1. Letters of Dame Peggy van Praagh
    Van Praagh, Peggy, 1910-1990
    [ Unpublished : 1968-1985 ]
    At National Library
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 69,907.312)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 69,907.312)

  2. How I became a ballet dancer / Peggy Van Praagh
    Van Praagh, Peggy, 1910-1990
    [ Book : 1954-1959 ]
    At 8 libraries
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 65,290.336)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 65,290.336)

  3. Peggy Van Praagh speaking at the Arts Council, A.C.T. Branch
    Van Praagh, Peggy, 1910-1990
    [ Sound : 1980 ]
    At National Library
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 61,747.844)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 61,747.844)

  4. Peggy Van Praagh address at the National Press Club on 5 September 1985
    Van Praagh, Peggy, 1910-1990
    [ Sound : 1985 ]
    View online
    At National Library
    Peggy Van Praagh address at the National Press Club on 5 September 1985
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 59,412.105)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 59,412.105)

  5. Ballet in Australia / P. Van Praagh
    Van Praagh, Peggy, 1910-1990
    [ Book : 1965 ]
    At 34 libraries
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 58,064.438)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 58,064.438)

  6. Papers of Dame Peggy van Praagh
    Van Praagh, Peggy, 1910-1990
    [ Unpublished : 1912-1986 ]
    View online
    At National Library
    Papers of Dame Peggy van Praagh
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 48,279.309)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 48,279.309)

  7. Journey to the moon [ballet program] : 1960, Theatre Royal, Borovansky Ballet
    Grinwis, Paul
    [ Book : 1960 ]
    At State Library S Aust
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 44,662.781)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 44,662.781)

  8. Peggy Van Praagh interviewed by Hazel de Berg in the Hazel de Berg collection
    Van Praagh, Peggy, 1910-1990
    [ Sound : 1973 ]
    View online
    At National Library
    Peggy Van Praagh interviewed by Hazel de Berg in the Hazel de Berg collection
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 44,322.227)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 44,322.227)

  9. The Australian Ballet [ballet program] : "Jazz spectrum", "The display", "Aurora's wedding"
    Van Praagh, Peggy, 1910-1990
    [ Book : 1964 ]
    At State Library S Aust
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 38,833.047)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 38,833.047)

  10. The choreographic art : an outline of its principles and craft / by Peggy Van Praagh and Peter Brinson ; with a foreword by Cyril Beaumont ; seventy-three photographs and 11 drawings by Robert Bruce Church
    Van Praagh, Peggy, 1910-1990
    [ Book : 1963 ]
    Languages: English;lis, [1 other]
    At 18 libraries
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 38,111.75)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 38,111.75)

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Archived websites (1996 – now)

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  1. Snapshots of websites, web pages and online publications about Australia and Australians collected since 1996.

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  1. Fonteyn, Margot (-1991)
    Dancer; Performer
    ... van Praagh, Peggy ... van Praagh's production of Giselle, and in a full-length ...
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 671.673)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 671.673)

  2. The Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust (1955-1990)
    ... van Praagh, Peggy ... Scott, Margaret ... van Praagh as artistic director. The company commenced its inaugural tour ... School. The school, under the direction of Margaret Scott, received its first ...
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 308.358)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 308.358)

  3. Alder, Alan (1937-)
    Ballet dancer; Choreographer; Dance teacher
    ... van Praagh, Peggy ... Scott, Margaret ... senior soloist at the invitation of Peggy van Praagh. He was promoted ... teaching with Dame Margaret Scott and Anne Woolliams at the dance school of ...
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 26.874)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 26.874)

  1. She's Dame Margot's 'twin'
    The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982) Wednesday 22 April 1964 p 43 Article Illustrated
    ... scholarship. "Nervous" The examiners who chose Pauline were Miss Peggy Van Praagh, Artis-tic Director of the ... She's Dame   Margots 'twin' By DIANE ROBERTS Among the dancers hoping to   win a ... 660 words
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 2,246.781)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 2,246.781)

  2. She knows her job
    The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995) Tuesday 10 September 1968 p 18 Article Illustrated
    ... Miss Peggy van Praagh, [" co-director of The Australian Ballet will be in Canberra with the com ... pany on Monday. She knows her job From MARY CLARKE in London * pEGGY van Praagh, co-director of The ... 922 words
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 410.202)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 410.202)

  3. People Boxer does his rounds post-haste
    The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982) Wednesday 30 September 1981 p 22 Article Illustrated
    ... Peggy Van Praagh. Among the eminent guests at the gala evening to honour Dame Margaret, who is the ... newcomer to their ranks. Seen greeting Dame Margaret Scott, at the right of our picture, who received her ... 1494 words
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 154.408)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 154.408)

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  1. Dame Margaret Scott
    AFI [au]
    [ Video : 1990 ]
    At Moving Image Coll
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 442.403)

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  2. Marilyn Rowe interviewed by Michelle Potter
    Rowe, Marilyn, 1946-
    [ Sound : 2003 ]
    At National Library
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  1. Swan Lake (Australian context)
    Swan Lake (Australian context)
    Created by NLAdance, 36 items.

    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 wit...

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 48.776)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 48.776)

  2. Armidale Summer Schools (1967 - 1976)
    Armidale Summer Schools (1967 - 1976)
    Created by NLAdance, 15 items.

    Four summer schools, momentous occasions in the development of dance in Australia, were organised by the University of New England and held on its Armidale (New South Wales) campus in 1967, 1969, 1...

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 27.821)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 27.821)

  1. Government Gazette Notices
    Commonwealth of Australia Gazette (National : 1901 - 1973) Thursday 25 June 1970 [Issue No.50] p 3915

    Government Gazette Notices

    ... of the British Empire (DJJ.E.) Miss Margaret (Peggy) Van Praagh, O B E For long and dis tinguished ... Honours, Decorations and Awards CIVIL DIVISION To be promoted a Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order ... 3234 words
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 15.836)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 15.836)

  2. Government Gazette Notices
    Commonwealth of Australia Gazette. Periodic (National : 1977 - 2011) Monday 1 August 1977 p 1

    Government Gazette Notices

    ... Commodore John W. HUBBLE, C B E , D S.O , A.F.C. Lieutenant-Colonel William D. JOYNT, V C. Robert M K A VAN ... Mr Justice Stephen George ALLEY, Melbourne. Ms Joan Margaret ALLPASS, Sydney. Mrs Pamela Ann AMOS ... 36480 words
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 10.051)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 10.051)

  3. Government Gazette Notices
    Commonwealth of Australia Gazette. Periodic (National : 1977 - 2011) Thursday 20 December 1990 p 5

    Government Gazette Notices

    ... Baxter And District Sports Club Baxter Margaret Florence Bayley Arthur Lawrence Bayley Stella Doris Beale ... Steven Charles Bealey Stephen George Beament Norman Beament Jane Beattie Margaret Edith Trustee For ... 27163 words
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 7.485)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 7.485)

  1. Papers of Christopher Sexton
    Sexton, Christopher, 1961-2018
    [ Unpublished : 1929-2008 ]
    View online
    At National Library
    Papers of Christopher Sexton
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 49.091)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 49.091)

  2. Series 01: Beth Dean and Victor Carell correspondence, 1937-1993
    [ Unpublished : 1937-1993 ]
    At State Library of NSW
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  3. Series 04: Beth Dean and Victor Carell subject files, 1933-1992
    [ Unpublished : 1933-1992 ]
    At State Library of NSW
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  1. Dame Peggy Van Praagh [The Dame Peggy Van Praagh Memorial Address (6th: 2000: Sydney Opera House).]
    Rowe, Marilyn
    Dance Forum
    [ Article : 2000 ]
    View online (conditions apply)
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 625.371)

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  2. Still true to the vision of Dame Peggy.(News)
    The Age (Melbourne, Australia)
    [ Article : 2009 ]
    View online (conditions apply)
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 189.325)

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  3. To the pointe.(A2)
    The Age (Melbourne, Australia)
    [ Article : 2010 ]
    View online (conditions apply)
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  4. AUSTRALIA COUNCIL GRANTS LISTS 1990-91 & STATISTICAL INFORMATION (30 June 1991)
    Australia Council; ; Australia Council
    Annual report
    [ Article : 1991 ]
    View online
    At Trove DigitalLibrary
    AUSTRALIA COUNCIL GRANTS LISTS 1990-91 & STATISTICAL INFORMATION (30 June 1991)
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 44.778)

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  1. Theatre board / Australia Council
    Australia Council; ; Australia Council
    Annual report
    [ Article, Book : 1979-1987 ]
    Languages: English;Undetermined, [1 other]
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    At 3 libraries
    Theatre board / Australia Council
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  2. An embodied politics : radical pedagogies of contemporary dance
    Dempster, Elizabeth, 1953-
    [ Thesis : 2002 ]
    View online
    At 2 libraries
    An embodied politics : radical pedagogies of contemporary dance
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