‘Haskell was the epitome of the word he coined – “balletomane” ... When he sat front of house, Haskell could revel in the aesthetics. Slipping behind the curtain, he could investigate the tensions, byzantine feuds and gossip.’
Valerie Lawson is a balletomane, journalist and dance critic 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.