Two of Australia's most acclaimed dancers, Dr Elizabeth Cameron Dalman and Marilyn Jones, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at the 2015 Australian Dance Awards in Adelaide in September. Both have been leaders in their respective fields, Dalman in contemporary dance, Jones in classical ballet, for about six decades.
As members of the Hall of Fame they will join an exclusive group who have been honoured by their peers for dedicating their lives to Australian dance, and for having achieved significant national and international recognition.
Dalman is well known in the Canberra community as artistic director of Mirramu Dance Company, and director of Mirramu Creative Arts Centre located on the shores of Lake George near Bungendore. But her career began in Adelaide where she began dancing as a child, and where by 1965 she had founded Australian Dance Theatre, still in existence 50 years on.
It was Dalman's vision to create a contemporary company that would develop an Australian identity through dance, and draw on Australian composers, poets and visual artists to collaborate with choreographers to achieve this vision. She commissioned composers, including Richard Meale and Peter Sculthorpe, and was inspired by artists such as Russell Drysdale, John Olsen, Albert Tucker and Lawrence Daws. It was a turbulent and rebellious time in Australia and the era of the Vietnam War. Dalman entered into the spirit of the times and was known in the press as the "rebel of the dance".
After she left Australian Dance Theatre in 1975, Dalman spent a decade in Italy teaching and performing. On her return it was her love of the Australian landscape that drew her to Lake George, where she established her Mirramu enterprises, and where she lives and works. Now she frequently makes dances that reflect the unique landscape of Lake George. Dalman has also worked consistently to establish intercultural exchanges and collaborated with dance communities in Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, the Netherlands and Senegal. She will shortly spend several months teaching at the Taiwan National University of the Arts.
Dalman received a PhD from the University of Western Sydney in 2012 with a thesis entitled The Quest for an Australian Dance Theatre. She has been the recipient of numerous awards, including an Australian Artists Creative Fellowship in 1994, an OAM in 1995, and the lifetime achievement award at the inaugural Australian Dance Awards in 1997. She is, she says, "extremely honoured and humbled" at the prospect of being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
"I thank all those who have inspired me over the years, my teachers and mentors, and the dancers I have taught, because I have learnt as much from them as they might have learnt from me," she says. "On another level, I have always known that I am a dancer and it is my passion for dance that drives me and guides me. I believe strongly that dance is important for humanity and peace."
Marilyn Jones began her dance training in her home town of Newcastle, New South Wales, and then studied in Sydney before leaving Australia, aged 16, as the recipient of an Australian Women's Weekly scholarship to study at the Royal Ballet School in London. Her professional career began in England with the Royal Ballet.
On her return to Australia she danced with the Borovansky Ballet as one of its stars and then joined the Australian Ballet as a principal artist for the company's inaugural season in 1962. She is recognised as one of Australia's greatest ballerinas and has danced all the major roles in the classics of the ballet repertoire.
During her long national and international career her partners have included some of the best known names in the ballet world including Rudolf Nureyev, Robert Helpmann, Garth Welch and John Meehan. She has worked with some of the most significant choreographers of the 20th century, including her elder son, Stanton Welch now artistic director of Houston Ballet, who created one of his earliest works, Of Blessed Memory, for her in 1991.
Jones was artistic director of the Australian Ballet between 1979 until 1981 and during that period established the Dancers Company to give performing and touring experience to senior students of the Australian Ballet School, and to provide opportunities for rising young artists of the Australian Ballet to dance leading roles. As artistic director she also guided the company through one of its darkest periods, the dancers' strike of 1981.
With an abiding love for classical ballet, in 1991 she established the Australian Institute of Classical Dance to encourage the development of Australian classical ballet and an Australian teaching syllabus. The organisation also offers scholarships to dancers and organises a choreographic competition, Dance Creation, to encourage emerging choreographers.
Jones was also director of classical dance at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, Edith Cowan University, Perth, from 2000 until 2005. At the academy she set about revitalising the classical teaching stream. Other significant positions she has held include director of the National Theatre Ballet School and the National Theatre Youth Ballet.
Jones returned to the stage in 2009 in the Australian Ballet's revival of Graeme Murphy's Nutcracker, the story of Clara in which she danced the role of Clara the Elder. Two years later she performed in Stephen Baynes' Requiem in which she played the role of an older woman reflecting on her life. Jones was awarded an OBE in 1972, an Australian Creative Arts Fellowship in 1990, and a Green Room Award for lifetime achievement in 2009. Like Dalman, Jones too feels honoured by her Hall of Fame award.
"Personally, I feel very privileged and thrilled to be chosen for this honour. It is quite unexpected," she says. "I am also thrilled that ballet, the dance style I am so passionate about, is being recognised in this way."
The 2015 Australian Dance Awards will be held at Her Majesty's Theatre, Adelaide, on September 12, 2015 at 7.30 pm. Bookings through BASS: bass.net.au. In addition to the Hall of Fame ceremony 12 other dance awards will be presented.
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