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National Theatre Ballet celebrates 80th anniversary

National Theatre Ballet celebrates 80th anniversary
June 3, 2019

The National Theatre Ballet School (NTBS), located on the Southside of Melbourne, a few blocks from the boardwalks of St. Kilda Beach is Australia’s oldest ballet school and is celebrating its 80th anniversary with a Diamond Gala historical event on 29th June.

Never before has there been a gala performance that has brought together the Australian Ballet, the Queensland Ballet, the Royal New Zealand Ballet, the Victoria State Ballet, the Melbourne City Ballet and the National Theatre Ballet. They will come together in a one night only gala performance that will ‘take the road back’ to celebrate the history and influence that the iconic dance training institution has had on the Australian dance scene.

The performances will feature the choreography of recently appointed Artistic Director Damian Smith, one of Australia’s most accomplished dancers. Smith’s international career spans more than two decades. From humble beginnings as an indigenous child growing up in Newcastle, Smith has gone on to star in over 200 performances on the world’s most prestigious stages. He was the principal dancer for many years in the San Francisco Ballet, one of the world’s leading ballet companies.

Appointed Artistic Director in June 2018, Smith has also ‘taken the road back’, bringing his experience back home to Australia to inspire a new generation of dancers and revitalise Australia’s oldest ballet school.

The NTBS was formed in 1939 under the directorship of Jean Alexander and since presided over by such luminaries as Marilyn Jones. It was the first of its kind in Australia to be attached to its own professional theatre company which would recruit students from the school into the company. More than 16,000 students have passed through its doors over the years.

Graduates of the NTBS are dancing all over the world, from Prague to Singapore, from the USA to Malaysia. The NTBS is renowned for its excellence in Classical Ballet training, producing some of the most exquisite ballet dancers across the world. Providing full-time professionally accredited training in Classical Ballet (Elite Performance) and an Emerging Artists program.

Smith explained “the School has been in hiding for many years. It’s quiet, so I’m wanting to light a fire under it. I want to help this old beaux-arts theatre which is a Melbourne historical landmark be a beacon of art development, training and production. I’m really excited."

For Smith, teaching is a way to give back to the community and the craft that have allowed him to create an extraordinary life.

He added “I feel like all the information and all the knowledge that’s been given to me doesn’t belong to me, and it’s my responsibility to pass that on.”

Image above of Damian Smith courtesy National Theatre Ballet School.

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19th April 2017 - QPAC and the Royal Ballet take dance into the community

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