In 1952, West Australian Ballet was established by Madame Kira Bousloff – the first ballet company formed in Australia that is still in existence today.
Madame Bousloff, a Ballerina with the Ballets Russes, had travelled to the east coast of Australia in 1938. After completing her commitment with the Ballets Russes she travelled west to Perth on holiday and fell in love with the city, declaring that the beautiful coastline reminded her of the French Riviera.
Since its formation West Australian Ballet has developed an impressive reputation for superior classical and contemporary ballet and contemporary dance of the highest level. Its repertoire continues to develop steadily; classical ballet forming the foundation for the Company’s vocabulary, combined with a distinct contemporary outlook on the art form. West Australian Ballet stages everything from full length classical ballets, narrative ballets and shorter works, and encompasses a variety of choreographic styles.
The Company is based in Perth and resides at the West Australian Ballet Centre in Maylands. It offers an extensive program of dance throughout the year, with three to four major seasons in Perth, regional touring throughout Western Australia, choreographic workshops, an extensive education program and other community activities.
West Australian Ballet also tours nationally and internationally; past international tours include China, Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan and the Philippines. In 2011 West Australian Ballet toured nationally to Canberra, Karratha, Mandurah, Bunbury and Albany.
West Australian Ballet is the only dance company in the state that has an official partnership with its state symphony orchestra; the West Australian Symphony Orchestra.
MILESTONES FOR WEST AUSTRALIAN BALLET
First public meeting and formation of the West Australian Ballet
Choreographer & Director Mme Kira Bousloff OAM directs the first performance on 24 July, 1953, in His Majesty’s Theatre, Perth, with 35 dancers, including the first guest artists Aina Reega, Arvid Fibigs and Raymond Trickett, in the performances Moment Romantique, La Bal and Romane. Choreographers: Mme Kira Bousloff and Marina Berosowska.
Eric Edgley is the Company’s first sponsor, donating 400 pounds for sets, costumes and the orchestra.
Douglas Gilchrist is appointed first President of The West Australian State Ballet.
First performance as part of the Festival of Perth.
Terri Charlesworth’s performance of The Brolga, choreographed by Mme Bousloff, was the first time a West Australian dancer performed in the International Arts Competition in Moscow. The performance was awarded the Ulanova Laureate prize.
The Company became incorporated.
Hon. Lady Gairdner appointed first Patron.
First regional tour Northam and Kondinin.
James Penberthy was the first commission by the Company for a score for Koree and the Mists.
Classical dancer, Mary Miller, becomes the first Indigenous dancer to join The West Australian State Ballet.
First visit of a ballet company to the North West and Darwin.
Kiril Vassilovsky joins the Company as guest choreographer working alongside Mme Bousloff.
The Company appeared at the first Festival of Darwin.
First grants received from the Elizabethan Theatre Trust [1000 pounds] and from the State Government [1500 pounds].
Rex Reid appointed first full-time Artistic Director.
Mme Bousloff named Founding Patron of West Australian Ballet.
Formation of West Australian Ballet Company Society fund-raising group.
First international tour to New Guinea.
Recognition as the professional State Company as full time contracts given for nine dancers.
21st anniversary of the Company.
Luis Moreno appointed Artistic Director.
Smash-hit season of Coppelia with set and costume designs by Mr Robb. It was hailed as: “setting the precedent for which West Australian Ballet is still renowned for commissioning Australia’s top creative artists to showcase the company’s dancing talent”.
Ray Powell was guest dancer in the role of Dr Coppelius.
Robin Haig appointed Artistic Director.
First Scholarship Programme – one of the first recipients was Paul Mercurio.
Garth Welch appointed Artistic Director and commissioned to produce Kal for the State’s 150th anniversary. The original score for this piece was composed by Australian composer, Verdon Williams.
The Company moved to His Majesty’s Theatre and performed the opening season in the newly-refurbished theatre.
Garth Welch produced the world premiere of Peter Pan – the Ballet with an original score by Verdon Williams and designs by Steve Nolan. This ballet was the first time the Company had the “House Full” sign outside the theatre.
Barry Moreland appointed Artistic Director and remains until 1997, making him the second longest serving Artistic Director after Mme Bousloff.
Visions is the first major collaboration of Australia’s best dancers, composers, choreographers and artists as part of the Bicentenary year celebrations. Three originals scores, sets and costume designs were produced by Australian talent.
First major international tour to China and Japan.
First performance at the Quarry Amphitheatre.
Ted Brandsen appointed Artistic Director.
Ted Brandsen awarded Australian Dance Award 2000 for his choreography of Carmen.
ABC television records Coppelia.
ABC television records Ted Brandsen’s Carmen and markets video sales.
Judy Maelor-Thomas appointed Artistic Director.
Company celebrates 50 years of service to dance in Australia.
Simon Dow appointed Artistic Director.
World premiere of La Boheme – the Ballet at His Majesty’s Theatre. La Boheme was at the time the biggest and most successful season in the history of West Australian Ballet to date.
Finnish choreographer, Jorma Uotinen, created a stunning new work for the Company’s Ballet at the Quarry season. Jorma was commissioned thanks to the generous support of Wesfarmers Arts and the UWA Perth International Arts Festival as part of the Wesfarmers Arts Commission Series. The commissioning of Jorma Uotinen was the first of five in the Wesfarmers Arts Commission Series during two years.
West Australian Ballet tours to China presenting La Boheme – the Ballet to audiences in Beijing, Nanjing, Hangzhou and Shanghai.
Ivan Cavallari appointed Artistic Director.
West Australian Ballet performs John Cranko’s The Taming of the Shrew courtesy of Cavallari’s associates in Stuttgart. The West Australian reviews it by saying “Make no mistake. This production marks the beginning of a golden age for West Australian Ballet.
West Australian Ballet celebrates 40 years as the official State Ballet Company.
Australian Premiere of Marcia Haydee’s The Sleeping Beauty, the biggest production staged by the company to date, making its debut on the large stage at Burswood Theatre and featuring a cast of over 80.
West Australian Ballet presents Gala at His Majesty’s Theatre featuring guest principal artists from The Royal Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet and The Australian Ballet.
West Australian Ballet moves into a brand new state of the art facility in Maylands. The Centre boasts four large dance studios, a wardrobe and production department and administration offices.
Aurelien Scannella appointed Artistic Director.
The company tours to Jakarta, Indonesia to perform a gala style program including excerpts from Jayne Smeulders’ Cinderella and works by David Dawson, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and others. The same year saw the World Premiere of West Australian Ballet’s very own production of The Nutcracker with choreography by Jayne Smeulders, Aurelien Scannella and Sandy Delasalle. The critically acclaimed season broke all box office records in the Company’s history to date.