Dance diary. May 2015

  • Oral history

I recently had the pleasure of recording an oral history interview for the National Library with Marilyn Jones. I first interviewed Jones in 1990 as part of the Esso Performing Arts and Oral History Archive Project, so this 2015 interview was a follow-up after 25 years. The image below captures, I think, the essence of Les Sylphides and Jones’ ability to dance that elusiveness.

Marilyn Jones and Jonathan Watts in 'Les Sylphides'. The Australian Ballet 1963. Photo Walter Stringer, National Library of Australia
Marilyn Jones and Jonathan Watts in Les Sylphides. The Australian Ballet, 1963. Photo: Walter Stringer, National Library of Australia

The interview requires written permission for use so will not be available online, but in many respects oral history is for the future. I certainly have become more and more aware of its intrinsic value as time passes. The full story of the Australian Ballet strike of 1981, for example, which took place during the artistic directorship of Jones, is yet to be told. Several interviews in the National Library’s collection give a variety of perspectives and await the historian.

Other dance interviews I have recorded in the past six months have been with Peter Bahen, Lisa Pavane and David Deverelle-Hill.

On the subject of the Esso Performing Arts material, there are 41 interviews, not all of which are dance-related, in that collection and a list can be accessed via the National Library catalogue. Many are available online.

  • Juliet Burnett

It came as something of a shock to learn that Juliet Burnett is leaving (has already left I think) the Australian Ballet. She has given me, and I’m sure many others, such a lot of pleasure over the past few years. Just recently, her performances in the leading roles in Graeme Murphy’s Swan Lake and Maina Gielgud’s production of Giselle have suggested wonderful things to come. But let’s hope that wherever the future takes her she will find much happiness. My posts mentioning Burnett are at this link.

  • Press for May

‘Visiting dance troupe’s double bill a triumph.’ Review of Quintett and  Frame of Mind, Sydney Dance Company. The Canberra Times, 2 May 2015, p. 19. Online version.

‘Circus acts unmissable.’ Review of ‘Le Noir: the dark side of Circque.’ The Canberra Times, 8 May 2015, ARTS p. 6. Online version.

‘Magical production of a great Giselle.’ Review of the Australian Ballet’s Canberra season of Giselle, The Canberra Times, 25 May 2015, ARTS p. 6. Online version.

Michelle Potter, 31 May 2015

2 thoughts on “Dance diary. May 2015

  1. Michelle, I like your comment about the full story regarding the 1981 dancers’ strike having not yet been fully told. I was hoping an official history of the company would have been produced for the 50th anniversary year detailing the strike, but in the event a picture book with accompanying essays appeared. I have always presumed that a lot of the information given by various sources is “embargoed” but your comment that it awaits an historian indicates that it may be freely available.

  2. I agree, Adrian, that the 50th anniversary publication is a lost opportunity. I think the company is very much into self-promotion these days. I guess it always has been, and needs to be, but the opportunities to self-promote are so much greater these days. And even the photos in the book are often ‘hero’ shots, which tell me little about production.

    On the other matter, some of the information given about the strike is embargoed in the sense that written permission is needed to access the material. But there is quite a lot that is freely accessible, and time will free up more. Even a request in writing may well free more. What is most interesting I think is that the information comes from pretty much every level – from administration, dancers, directors and council of management, for example. I am only aware of the material that I have recorded, or come across in carrying out other research, but I am sure there is a lot more in archival collections where one might not necessarily expect to find it. However, there are probably legal issues to consider as well. There were one or two matters that I had to leave unaddressed in Dame Maggie Scott for those very reasons. But, as I said, the true story awaits someone in the future (perhaps the not too distant future).

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