Presented by Ausdance

Marilyn Jones OBE

  • Photographer: William Baxter
  • Company: The Australian Ballet

Marilyn Jones OBE, Australia’s first new prima ballerina of The Australian Ballet is an iconic figure of dance.

From her first season with the company to her last, she sustained an innately lyrical aesthetic. Marilyn’s warmth and humility in such classics as Swan Lake, Raymonda, Sleeping Beauty and, perhaps above all, Giselle with her (then) husband Garth Welch, made her a favourite with audiences nationally and abroad.

Following her performance career Marilyn taught at the National Theatre Ballet School and was artistic director of The Australian Ballet (1979-1982), where she established the Dancers Company involving final year students of The Australian Ballet School. In 1995 she became Artistic Director of the National Theatre School, and later, Senior Lecturer and Coordinator of Classical Dance at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts.

Today Marilyn is the artistic director of the Australian Institute of Classical Dance, which she established to produce a new Australian ballet-training syllabus. In 1996 she launched the much-valued Dance Creation competition for emerging choreographers. Marilyn continues to lead the Institute’s valuable work, which comprises workshops for students, teachers’ seminars, examinations, scholarship competitions and residencies at the Royal New Zealand Ballet School and the Houston Ballet School in Texas USA.

Born in Newcastle in 1940, Marilyn’s dedication to ballet was forged from the age of four, in the studio-in-a-garage of the legendary Tessa Maunder. In 1955 Marilyn studied with Lorraine Norton in Sydney, winning the Australian Women’s Weekly scholarship to study at the Royal Ballet School where, among her teachers, was Peggy van Praagh. After touring America with the Royal Ballet, Marilyn returned home where she joined two short-lived Sydney companies, Robert Pomie’s Ballet Francais and the Arts Council of Australia Ballet. She joined the Borovansky Ballet in 1959, dancing many leading roles. Borovansky’s sudden death led to Marilyn working again with van Praagh, who directed the company’s final year, and soon after, the new Australian Ballet. Marilyn enthusiastically crossed genres in her repertoire of more than 50 works, from Fokine’s Les Sylphides and Balanchine’s Ballet Imperial to challenging modern works such as Glen Tetley’s Gemini, John Butler’s Night Encounter and Welch’s Othello. Subsequently, Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet and Onegin, revealed her as a mature artist of deep passion and excitation.

Marilyn has returned to the stage several times, with Sydney Dance Company, Queensland Ballet and with The Australian Ballet, to reprise the roles of Clara the Elder in Graeme Murphy’s Nutcracker, Stephen Baynes’s Requiem, and especially Of Blessed Memory, which her son Stanton Welch created for her.

One of our greatest classical dancers, Marilyn has inspired and influenced generations of young dancers throughout her distinguished life in dance.

Dr Elizabeth Cameron Dalman OAM

  • Photographer: Barbie Robinson

Nationally and internationally renowned as a director, choreographer, teacher and performer, Elizabeth is one of our foremost dance pioneers.

A passionate artist with a life-long dedication to dance, she has been a prime mover in shaping the Australian dance landscape for over 50 years. Elizabeth began her early dance training in Adelaide and in 1957 left Australia to study and perform in London, Europe and New York. After working with Murray Louis, James Truitte, Kurt Joos and Alwin Nikolais and especially Eleo Pomare, Elizabeth returned home in 1963 to establish her own school of dance in Adelaide and, in 1965, with Kevin Roberts as production manager, she founded one of Australia’s earliest contemporary dance companies—Australian Dance Theatre, now celebrating its 50th year.

As the company’s artistic director and chief choreographer for 10 years, Elizabeth created over 30 works, frequently with commissioned scores from Australian composers and designs by Australian artists, and with regular international tours. Her new dance was innovative and controversial and the establishment of the company led to a flourishing of modern dance techniques and improvisation all over the country. Long before interdisciplinary projects and international collaborations became ubiquitous in the arts, Elizabeth was closely engaged with both; introducing her dancers to now celebrated composers, visual artists, writers and media artists, greatly enriching dance itself and those who worked with her.

After her departure from Australian Dance Theatre in 1975 Elizabeth spent the next decade teaching and choreographing in Europe, establishing a dance school and youth dance theatre group in Ventimiglia, Italy. Since 1986 Elizabeth has been working in Australia and Asia as an independent artist, creating many solo and group programs. In 1990 she founded the Mirramu Creative Arts Centre at Bungendore in New South Wales. Situated on the shores of Lake George, the site is the source of inspiration for many of her site-specific works, and for continuing her interdisciplinary and international collaborations.

Elizabeth has received numerous awards, including an Australian Artists Creative Fellowship in 1994, a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 1995, and an Australian Dance Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1997. Elizabeth also completed her doctorate at the University of Western Sydney in 2012 with a thesis entitled The Quest for an Australian Dance Theatre.

A visionary as well as a pioneer, Elizabeth has always been an advocate of human rights—as expressed in her many creative works—actively supporting Aboriginal rights, women’s rights, the environment and contemporary arts. Leading a generation of artists who were seeking a spiritual and holistic pathway through their art in order to communicate and explore ways to interpret the world, she has contributed to defining Australia’s diverse cultural identity and has made a significant and lasting impact on the development of Australian contemporary dance.

The 2020 Awards are grateful for the support of these sponsors and partners.

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