British choreographer Gillian Lynne (who will later choreograph Cats) arrives to create The Australian Ballet’s first TV commission, The Fool on the Hill. Set to Beatles music arranged by John Lanchbery, the work is intended to celebrate the coming of colour television and has suitably vivid designs. It wins a number of international television awards and is later adapted for the stage.
The Borovansky Ballet gives its last performance in Melbourne.
18 February 1961
Peggy van Praagh returns to Australia to take up the directorship of the new company.
On this Saturday, the dancers assemble to sign their contracts and take their first class together.
1 September 1962
The Australian Ballet has its first day of rehearsals in their East Melbourne studios.
3 September 1962
The first performance by the company is Peggy van Praagh’s production of Swan Lake at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Sydney.
2 November 1962
Melbourne Cup, the first work to be commissioned by The Australian Ballet, premieres in Sydney.
16 November 1962
Rudolf Nureyev, the explosive superstar recently defected from the Soviet Union, arrives in Sydney.
Tatiana Zimina and Nikita Dolgushin are the first Soviet guest artists to appear with an Australian company.
9 January 1963
The Australian Ballet travels to New Zealand for its first international tour.
Following the unsuccessful NZ tour, the company is forced to split into two for regional tours of Australia.
23 August – 26 November 1963
The company moves briefly into its most colourful home, rented premises in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.
Peggy van Praagh commissions a young New Zealander, Kristian Fredrikson, to design the costumes for her new production of Aurora’s Wedding.
The Australian Ballet School opens under the direction of former Ballet Rambert dancer Margaret Scott.
2 March 1964
Robert Helpmann's The Display is premiered by The Australian Ballet.
14 March 1964
Betty Pounder, JC Williamsons’ resident choreographer, makes Jazz Spectrum, a new contemporary work, on The Australian Ballet.
26 March 1964
Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev arrive to guest with The Australian Ballet in Swan Lake and Giselle.
Poul Gnatt stages the Bournonville work Le Conservatoire for the company.
6 February 1965
Robert Helpmann is appointed co-artistic director of The Australian Ballet after the premiere of his new ballet Yugen.
18 February 1965
The company jets off on a five-month international tour, which includes London, Paris, Lebanon, LA and Hawaii.
August 1965 – January 1966
Three principal artists leave the company and four dancers are promoted to principal rank.
The Australian Ballet Society is formed in Melbourne.
15 February 1966
The company presents its first open-air performance at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl.
7 March 1966
Robert Helpmann’s Elektra premieres in Adelaide.
15 March 1966
Rudolf Nureyev’s Raymonda has its Australian premiere in Adelaide.
25 March 1966
The Australian Ballet embarks on a third international tour.
February – July 1967
The company performs its only Australian season for the year, La Fille mal gardée at Sydney’s Tivoli Theatre.
12 October – 6 December 1967
The company gives its 1000th performance – a matinee of Coppélia.
25 November 1967
The company moves into a former tyre factory in Flemington provided by the Melbourne City Council.
The Australian Ballet embarks on a tour of South East Asia, Korea, Taiwan and Japan.
February – April 1968
Sun Music breaks all attendance records of The Australian Ballet at its Sydney premiere.
2 August 1968
Threshold brings a new movement vocabulary to the company.
16 August 1968
The Australian Ballet performs at a rugby league oval in Port Moresby.
20 May 1969
The renowned New York-based choreographer Anthony Tudor arrives in Australia.
11 July 1969
Marilyn Rowe and Kelvin Coe launch their stellar partnership in Igor Moiseyev’s The Last Vision.
8 August 1969
The Australian premiere of Rudolf Nureyev’s Don Quixote in Adelaide.
28 March 1970
Peggy van Praagh becomes a Dame.
14 June 1970
Disparities in pay cause unrest among the dancers, who eventually strike.
The company embark on a 17-city, 69-performance, 10-week tour of the USA.
December 1970 – March 1971
Garth Welch’s Othello enters the company’s repertoire.
3 June 1971
The Australian Ballet’s first choreographic workshop is presented in Melbourne.
8 July 1971
The Ballets Russes choreographer Léonide Massine travels to Australia.
9 December 1971
John Lanchbery is appointed Music Director of The Australian Ballet.
21 January 1972
Helpmann invites Frederick Ashton to perform in the Australian premiere of Ashton’s Cinderella.
17 March 1972
Colin Peasley reminisces about filming Rudolf Nureyev’s Don Quixote.
Robert Helpmann and Rudolf Nureyev make Nureyev’s production of Don Quixote into a film starring The Australian Ballet.
December 1972 – January 1973
The Friends of The Australian Ballet NSW is formed.
Glen Tetley creates the sinuous, edgy work Gemini on The Australian Ballet.
March – April 1973
The company acquires its first work by British wunderkind Kenneth MacMillan.
Kelvin Coe and Marilyn Rowe win silver medals in Moscow.
The film of Don Quixote premieres at the brand-new Sydney Opera House.
19 July 1973
The Australian Ballet tours the USSR in difficult conditions.
August – September 1973
The Australian Ballet begins its long association with the Sydney Opera House as Garth Welch says farewell.
7 December 1973
The premiere of Robert Helpmann’s Perisynthion, a companion to his Sun Music.
21 March 1974
Robert Helpmann assumes sole directorship of the company as Peggy van Praagh relinquishes her position due to ill health.
11 June 1974
Ballet ’74, The Australian Ballet’s choreographic workshop, is held in Canberra.
26 September 1974
Anne Woolliams comes to Australia to stage John Cranko's Romeo and Juliet.
28 November 1974
The Australian Ballet perform Frederick Ashton’s Monotones and Two Pigeons at a Royal Performance for Princess Margaret.
25 October 1975
The Merry Widow, the first full-length work commissioned by The Australian Ballet, has its world premiere in Melbourne.
13 November 1975
Robert Helpmann invites Colin Peasley to join the ballet staff.
16 December 1975
The company travels to the USA, where they perform The Merry Widow with a 57-year-old Margot Fonteyn.
8 June – 25 July 1976
Anne Woolliams becomes artistic director and introduces John Cranko’s Onegin to the repertoire.
1 September 1976
Glimpses, created by Graeme Murphy, premieres in Canberra.
29 October 1976
Carla Fracci performs as a guest of the company.
Danilo Radojevic wins Australia’s first gold medal in Moscow.
Anne Woolliams resigns as artistic director.
25 August 1977
Anne Woolliams’ Swan Lake premieres in Melbourne.
19 October 1977
Peggy van Praagh becomes artistic director once again and the company gets its first work by Jerome Robbins.
23 November 1977
Graeme Murphy’s first commissioned piece for the company premieres.
15 May 1978
Marilyn Jones retires from the stage.
19 September 1978
Marilyn Rowe and Kelvin Coe become the first Australian artists to appear as guests of the Bolshoi Ballet.
The Australian premiere of László Seregi’s Spartacus.
26 October 1978
Dame Peggy van Praagh gives the company a new version of Coppélia with costumes by Kristian Fredrikson.
22 February 1979
The company embarks on its 12th international tour, visiting Greece, Israel and Turkey.
Marilyn Jones is appointed artistic director and commissions a new full-length work of Anna Karenina.
The Australian Ballet’s first season for the year is A Tribute to Borovansky.
21 March 1980
Marilyn Jones launches The Dancers Company.
Graeme Murphy’s Beyond Twelve premieres at the Sydney Opera House.
8 May 1980
The Australian Ballet tours China.
Serge Lifar visits The Australian Ballet to stage his ballet Suite en blanc.
18 March 1981
The company travels to Mexico to perform The Merry Widow.
8 May 1981
The Three Musketeers is a showcase for the company’s male dancers.
5 October 1981
The dancers go on strike for 26 days.
22 October 1981
The company presents six one-act ballets throughout the year and an astonishing five full-length works.
Marilyn Jones resigns and Marilyn Rowe is appointed ballet director, while the search begins for a new artistic director.
15 January 1982
Maina Gielgud is appointed The Australian Ballet’s artistic director.
David McAllister and Steven Heathcote join the corps de ballet.
20 January 1983
Kelvin Coe is invited back to the company as a guest artist.
Former stars Marilyn Rowe and Kelvin Coe perform in the company’s first simulcast with ABC TV.
17 September 1983
The company’s performance of La Fille Mal Gardée at the Myer Music Bowl is a smash.
6 March 1984
Maina Gielgud initiates an international dancer exchange program.
The State Theatre at the Victorian Arts Centre opens with Maina Gielgud’s new production of The Sleeping Beauty.
30 October 1984
Work begins on the new Ballet Centre in South Melbourne.
The premiere of Robert Ray's The Sentimental Bloke.
8 May 1985
Erik Bruhn returns to Australia to stage his production of La Sylphide.
15 October 1985
Marilyn Rowe and John Meehan are invited to dance the lead roles in every performance of the 10th-anniversary season of The Merry Widow.
It’s a bumper year for international guesting.
Robert Helpmann rises from his hospital bed to play the role of the frail, beleaguered Red King in Checkmate.
6 May 1986
Maina Gielgud stages a new production of Giselle.
12 September 1986
Marilyn Jones, Marilyn Rowe, Julie da Costa and Maina Gielgud play the bitchy ballerinas in the 19th-century satire Pas de Quatre.
19 November 1986
It's another marathon year for the company: they perform four full-length ballets and fourteen one-act ballets.
Glen Tetley returns to The Australian Ballet to create Orpheus.
Kenneth Macmillan’s elegiac Songs of the Earth enters the repertoire.
David McAllister and Elizabeth Toohey guest with the famed Kirov Ballet.
The Australian Ballet moves to its new purpose-built home in Southbank, Melbourne.
18 February 1988
The company makes a triumphant tour to the ballet meccas of London, St Petersburg and Moscow.
June – August 1988
More famous dance teachers come to Australia to work with the company.
There is great rejoicing among the dancers and staff when the wardrobe department is finally moved into the new premises in Southbank.
4 April 1989
The Australian Broadcasting Commission film the company’s performance of La Fille mal gardée.
20 June 1989
Stanton Welch joins the company.
26 October 1989
The Ballet Club, the first formal organisation of donors to The Australian Ballet, is formed.
Dame Peggy van Praagh dies after a long and debilitating illness.
15 January 1990
Stephen Baynes makes his first commissioned work for The Australian Ballet.
4 May 1990
The Australian Ballet tours New York, Washington DC and Costa Mesa.
July – August 1990
Four gala performances are given in Sydney.
Stanton Welch kicks off his choreographic career with Of Blessed Memory.
18 October 1991
Noel Pelly, an original member of the The Australian Ballet’s staff, retires.
30 November 1991
Friends of The Australian Ballet (SA) is established.
28 January 1992
Graeme Murphy makes Nutcracker – The Story of Clara on The Australian Ballet.
12 March 1992
The Australian Ballet tours to Nervi, Italy and to London.
June – July 1992
Kelvin Coe dies at the age of 42.
Rudolf Nureyev dies.
6 January 1993
The company launches its first extensive education program.
Choreographic superstar Jiří Kylián come to Australia.
August – September 1993
A star-studded year of guest artists.
The Patrons program is created.
The world premiere of Divergence, a one-act work by Stanton Welch.
1 September 1994
The lighting designer William “Bill” Akers retires.
23 December 1994
Maina Gielgud invites Stanton Welch to make his first full-length work on the company.
Telstra becomes The Australian Ballet’s principal sponsor, providing vital support that continues to this day.
The Australian Ballet appoints two resident choreographers.
21 September 1995
Maina Gielgud spends her last year with The Australian Ballet.
Meryl Tankard makes The Deep End with the company.
The fruitful collaboration between Bangarra Dance Theatre and The Australian Ballet begins.
13 September 1996
Ross Stretton replaces Maina Gielgud as artistic director.
The premiere of Stanton Welch’s full-length ballet Cinderella.
21 February 1997
The premiere of Rites at the Melbourne Festival.
29 October 1997
Natalia Makarova arrives in Australia to stage her version of La Bayadère.
Stephen Baynes premieres his first full-length work for The Australian Ballet.
7 April 1998
Natalie Weir’s Dark Lullaby is created for The Australian Ballet.
1 July 1998
The company visits New Zealand, Singapore, China and the USA.
Li Cunxin, the former Houston Ballet star, retires from The Australian Ballet.
2 March 1999
The company wows New York with its program of works by Australian choreographers.
Artistic Director Ross Stretton announces he will be leaving The Australian Ballet.
Newly-appointed resident choreographer Natalie Weir produces her full-length ballet Mirror Mirror.
16 June 2000
The company performs at the Sydney Olympics Arts Festival.
August – September 2000
Telstra strengthens its relationship with The Australian Ballet as Telstra Countrywide becomes principal sponsor of The Dancers Company.
For the Centenary of Federation celebrations, The Australian Ballet teams up with the Sydney Dance Company.
18 May 2001
The premiere of Natalie Weir’s Carmina Burana and Stephen Baynes’ Requiem.
23 May 2001
David McAllister takes over as artistic director.
18 July 2001
Lucinda Dunn and Robert Curran are promoted to principal rank on the same day.
10 September 2001
The Australian Ballet collaborates with Australia’s oldest dance company, the West Australian Ballet.
David McAllister’s first commission as artistic director is Graeme Murphy’s Swan Lake.
17 September 2002
The Telstra Ballet Dancer Award is established, on the eve of the company’s 40th birthday, with the aim of nurturing young talent.
1 November 2002
The Australian Ballet turns 40, and celebrates with a series of gala events titled Beyond 40.
2 November 2002
The Australian Ballet commissions three new works from Australian choreographers.
The company has more dancers, and so is able to tour as a split company.
The inaugural Telstra Ballet Dancer Award is announced.
The Australian Ballet celebrates the centenary of two choreographic luminaries.
Bodytorque has its inaugural season.
6 July 2004
The International Touring Fund is established by the South Australian philanthropist Frances Gerard.
The Australian Ballet takes Swan Lake to Cardiff and London.
Stanton Welch’s new version of The Sleeping Beauty plays up the struggle between good and evil.
14 September 2005
The Australian Ballet, the National Library of Australia and The University of Adelaide commemorate Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.
Pirouettes in the Pilbara!
The company perform The Sleeping Beauty in Auckland and Swan Lake in Shanghai.
Out There – The Australian Ballet in schools begins.
26 November 2006
The Australian Ballet tours to Japan with The Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake.
Steven Heathcote retires after hitting every height in a luminous 25-year career.
3 July 2007
A performance of Peter Wright’s spectacular production of The Nutcracker is filmed live at the Sydney Opera House.
7 December 2007
The Australian Ballet joins global celebrations honouring the genius of Jerome Robbins.
30 April 2008
International dance star Carlos Acosta partners Kirsty Martin in Afternoon of a Faun.
The company commissions three new works set to three new scores.
28 August 2008
After an absence of 43 years the company returns to Paris.
September – October 2008
The company’s progressive maternity scheme encourages six dancers to take the leap into parenthood.
Telstra and The Australian Ballet celebrate 25 years of partnership.
The program Firebird and other legends is performed in the final year of the Ballets Russes project.
24 February 2009
The Out There – The Australian Ballet in schools program extends beyond Victoria and NSW.
21 April 2009
The Concord program brings two of the most in-demand choreographers on the planet to The Australian Ballet, and the dancers are buzzing.
21 August 2009
The Ian Potter Foundation gives the company a transformative gift of eight million dollars.
10 February 2010
Graeme Murphy’s full-length ballet The Silver Rose is reproduced for the company.
26 February 2010
David McAllister announces three new principal artists after Telstra Ballet in the Stadium.
6 November 2010
There are two winners of the 2010 Telstra Ballet Dancer Award.
3 December 2010
The second triple promotion in two years is announced after opening night of the British Liaisons program in Sydney.
3 May 2011
Kirsty Martin retires to spend more time with her two children and husband Damien Welch.
4 July 2011
Acclaimed Principal Artist Lucinda Dunn notches up 20 years with the company.
29 July 2011
Graeme Murphy is invited back to The Australian Ballet to make his third version of an iconic ballet favourite.
13 September 2011
Robert Curran retires after his final performance as Danilo in The Merry Widow.
26 November 2011
The Australian Ballet reaches its 50th year with some impressive numbers under its belt.
The Australian Ballet holds the first of its 50th birthday celebrations.
11 February 2012
The 50th anniversary season begins with Infinity, an all-new program of commissioned Australian works.
24 February 2012
Former Principal Artist Lisa Bolte remembers being chosen to dance the role of Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty at the age of 21.
The company wows audiences in New York City on a special 50th anniversary tour.
12 June 2012
Stephen Baynes creates a new version of Swan Lake in honour of The Australian Ballet's first performance in 1962.
18 September 2012
The Australian Ballet celebrates its “actual” birthday with a lavish gala, held at Arts Centre Melbourne and beamed to live sites and regional cinemas around the country.
2 November 2012
After 50 years and more than 6400 performances with The Australian Ballet, founding member Colin Peasley hangs up his dancing shoes.
19 December 2012
The Australian Ballet perform Jiří Kylián’s lyrical Bella Figura for the first time.
24 August 2000
The Russian superstars Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev find time in their busy schedules to perform with The Australian Ballet in Don Quixote.
16 March 2013
Ty King-Wall is promoted to principal artist onstage after performing as Basilio in Don Quixote.
6 April 2013
The Australian Ballet's Wardrobe Production Manager Michael Williams recalls the design process of the talented Kristian Fredrikson in a beautiful video by The Apiary.
After its screaming success eight years earlier, Frederick Ashton's Cinderella is brought back to the stage.
The world premiere in Melbourne of a new Cinderella by Alexei Ratmansky wows audiences and critics.
17 September 2013