Dance

David McAllister, known affectionately as ‘Daisy’ to his fellow dancers, completed this memoir just as Covid-19 put paid to the exciting program he had devised for his final year as artistic director of the Australian Ballet. In spite of the cancelled world premières, McAllister makes no complaint about what must surely have been a disappointing finale to a stellar career, but he remains upbeat, turning his hand to modest ‘Dancing with David’ videos, alongside the company’s filmed performances and the Bodytorque.Digital program.

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Valerie Lawson is a balletomane whose writing on dance encompasses newspaper articles and also articles  and editorials for numerous dance companies. Lawson’s lavishly illustrated Dancing Under the Southern Skies, like Arnold Haskell’s mid-twentieth-century popular histories of ballet, substitutes stories about ballet and ballet dancers for a cohesive historical narrative about ballet in Australia. Portraits, images of ballet dancers posing in photographers’ studios, and ephemera are reproduced in the book; but the total sum of stage photos – of dancing – can be counted on one hand.

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Australian Dance Theatre, the nation’s longest continuing modern dance company, was born in 1965, during the so-called Dunstan renaissance of Adelaide. Elizabeth Cameron Dalman, a dancer and teacher influenced by five transformative years in Europe, and Leslie White, a dancer and teacher trained at the Royal Ballet School ...

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In November 2016, former principal dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko entered the Bolshoi Ballet studios in Moscow to begin retraining for the stage. He had recently been ...

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What is it about the Ballets Russes that resonates with so many people? Is it the magic of a redeemed art ordained in a marriage of artists, dancers, and composers overseen by a master celebrant – Sergei Diaghilev? Is it remembrance of a creative fire that burst onto the stage in 1909 and assured a strong future for ballet around the world? The answer is ‘yes’ to both, but I think that what attracts us most is nostalgia for a particular moment in time; the desire to have witnessed those famous performances in the early decades of the last century.

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Dance is an ephemeral art. This is just one reason, among many, why Alan Brissenden and Keith Glennon’s beautifully designed and presented Australia Dances: Creating Australian Dance 1945–1965 is an important contribution to the light industry of dance historiography. Its eye-catching cover, with a Walter Stringer photograph of dancer William Harvey in a soaring leap above an Australian landscape, will attract bookshop browsers. A perusal of its contents will encourage purchase, as a special gift or for one’s personal library.

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