Subsidy as Choreographic Act: Examining the establishment of a permanent national ballet company in Australia

Gareth Belling


In 2023, The Australian Ballet (TAB) celebrated its sixtieth anniversary in a programme of reworked classical ballets, restaged twentieth century masterworks, and newly commissioned contemporary ballets. Given that TAB repeatedly invokes its history during anniversary celebrations, it is worth re-examining the conditions in which TAB emerged as a permanent national company, to understand how subsidy functioned in the formation and maintenance of ballet in Australia. In this article I examine the policies of the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust (the Trust) between 1954 and 1975, to understand how the provision of subsidy restricted, delayed, and eventually enabled, the formation of TAB. I utilise archival research in the Papers of Geoffrey Ingram and interviews with dancers and choreographers who worked for TAB between 1962 and 1975 to articulate how subsidy impacted the practice of doing ballet in Australia. As such, this article argues that the Trust choreographed the development and maintenance of a permanent national ballet company in Australia.


Subsidy; Choreography; Australia; Ballet; Cultural policy

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