Bangarra Dance Theatre : programs and related material

The Library holds a collection of performing arts programs and ephemera for leading Australian dance company, Bangarra Dance Theatre.

Tim Webster, n.d., Djakapurra Munyarryun in the Bangarra Dance Theatre production, 'Ochres', 1995, nla.obj-136834625

What happened to Australia Dancing?

Individual pages, profiles, companies and performances from Australia Dancing can now be found in Trove.

Three ballerinas mid-movement in matching white tutus
Stringer, Walter. & Woolliams, Anne, Australian Ballet performance of Swan lake. 1977, nla.obj-146852093

The Dance collection includes unique Australian dance resources across a spectrum of dance styles. The collection supports the preservation of dance materials and documents dance in Australia. Dance-related material at the National Library includes: 

  • Personal papers of dancers, including travel documents and albums
  • Oral history interviews with Australians involved in dance
  • Pictures of dance, including photographs and art works
  • Performances of Australian productions and international touring companies
  • Notated dance scores and associated papers
  • Performance programs, cast sheets, fliers and brochures
  • Sound recordings of folk dance music

This section of the guide features dance collection highlights, select companies, artists profiles, and key online and print resources. 

Dance related materials in the Library’s collection can be discovered using our catalogue.

Dance collection highlights 

There are some outstanding and significant dancers and companies represented in the Library’s collections. Here is a sample listing: 


Dancer, choreographer, and actor Robert Helpmann danced with Anna Pavlova during her Australian tour in 1926 before joining J.C. Williamson's company. He was premier danseur with Sadler's Wells 1933-1950. He produced several ballets, choreographed the ballet Red Shoes, and created The Display for the Australian Ballet. He was artistic director of the Australian Ballet from 1965 to 1976. The Library holds the papers and letters of Robert Helpmann as well as oral history recordings, a collection of portraits of Robert Helpmann on stage and a theatre programs collection.  

Meryl Tankard is a choreographer, dancer and performer. She has choreographed and performed in a diverse range of works with Australian and international companies since the 1970s. Our collections include the Papers of Meryl Tankard, 1970-2015. We also hold collections relating to the Meryl Tankard Company including company records, theatre programs and a pictures collection

Noel Tovey is a dancer, actor, director, narrator, production designer, playwright and choreographer. He was the artistic director for the Indigenous welcoming ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympics and the first Indigenous male ballet dancer in Australia The Library holds the Papers of Noel Tovey 1912-2017 and an interview with Lee Christofis.

London-born Dame Margaret (Peggy) van Praagh achieved prominence as a dancer, ballet teacher and director. She pursued a career of dance and joined the Ballet Club (later known as Ballet Rambert) in 1933 before moving to the Sadler's Wells Ballet, 1941-1945. In 1959, she was invited to Australia to direct the Borovansky Ballet. The Australian Ballet was formed in 1962 and van Praagh was artistic director from 1972-1974. The Library holds van Praagh’s papers and letters, as well as a collection of images and interviews.

Dance companies

The AIDT was a Sydney based dance company which operated from 1976 to 1998. It was the first dance company used to train Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students on their dancing career and evolved into a performance group. The Library holds a Collection of Posters from Aboriginal Islander Dance Theatre as well as a Theatre programs collection. 

Formed in 1962, the Australian Ballet is Australia's first permanent national ballet company. The Library holds the Records of the Australian Ballet, 1961-2000 and a collection of theatre programs. 

One of Australia’s leading performing arts companies, Bangarra is captured within the Library’s collections through photographs, a collection of posters, theatre programs, related personal papers and recordings. This includes posters and programs relating to their performances during the Olympic Arts Festivals. 

Key dance collections 

The Library has several significant dance-related collections including:  

Collection comprises of interviews with people from the fields of dance, music and theatre and documents aspects of Australian theatre history from the 1930s to the 1980s.  

About 960 photographs of productions, dancers and others associated with ballet companies, about 650 programs, cast lists, souvenir booklets, invitations and ephemera, plus personal papers of Geoffrey Ingram and Edouard and Xenia Borovansky. 

Comprises 24 interviews of performers and choreographers recorded between 1997 and 2001.

Designer Kenneth Rowell (1920–1999), including theatrical designs, from sketches to final costume and set designs for Australian and European productions of opera and ballet from the 1940s to the 1990s.

Max Dupain’s career as a photographer spanned more than 60 years. His subjects included the human form, the landscape and industrial and historical architecture. Dupain’s work with dancers began in 1936 with a commission to photograph the artists of the Ballets Russes while they were on tour in Australia. Collection includes portraits of members of the Ballets Russes companies which visited Australia between 1936 and 1940.

A collection of slides contained in albums featuring works performed by all major resident Australia dance companies and all major overseas dance companies visiting Australia from the 1940s to the 1990s.

Printed dance resources 

Online dance resources 

Resources relating to Australian dance can be accessed online through our eResources, including: 

FAQ: What happened to the Australia Dancing discovery service? 

Between 2003 and 2012 the National Library hosted the web portal, Australia Dancing. The service aimed to provide users with access to current and historical information about dance in Australia. Australia Dancing resources can now be found in Trove, the National Library’s discovery service.  

You can also continue to access the archived content of Australia Dancing from the Trove Websites category. 

Archived Ballet Russes Exhibition website

Ballets Russes—an extraordinary dance company that dazzled Australian audiences during three tours from 1936 to 1940. 

A woman in a headwrap and long pants is on stage; she leans backward with an arm raised above her head
Maurice Seymour, n.d., Valrene Tweedie as an Odalisque in 'Scheherazade', Chicago, Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, 1947-48. nla.obj-143452131

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