Dance Australia


THIS year Dance Australia celebrates its 40th anniversary – an incredible achievement for an arts publication.

Founded in Melbourne by Dally Messenger back before the internet, the magazine is now owned by the Sydney-based family company Yaffa Media, one of Australia’s largest independent media organisations. Beginning as a quarterly print publication, then a bi-monthly, Dance Australia has now expanded and adapted in line with the all the expectations of the modern digital media, with a website, weekly e-news and associated social media.


 “I THINK it’s about time that we had a national magazine. It has been far too long.” Thus was quoted the late, great classical dancer Kelvin Coe in the first issue of Dance Australia, in an article written by the founding editor, Dally Messenger. Vol 1, No 1, September-November, was published in 1980 and cost $2.50, with a cover picturing Coe and his fellow Australian Ballet principal artist Marilyn Rowe, both of whom had just been inducted in the Order of the British Empire (as Australian honours were known then).

The issue also included an interview by Patricia Laughlin with the other Australian ballerina by the name of Marilyn – Marilyn Jones, OBE, the then artistic director of the Australian Ballet. The article was about her establishment of the Dancers Company that year – now a long-standing institution attached to the Australian Ballet School. Next was an article on Sydney Dance Company, by Jill Sykes, talking to Graeme Murphy, the company’s then artistic director (who would receive his honour, AM, in 1988). He was preparing his major premiere for that year, Daphnis and Chloe, with Carl Morrow and Victoria Morrow in the leading roles. “The Sydney Dance Company has developed a character unlike any other performing arts company in Australia: a personality moulded by its dancers, choreographers, composers and designers,” she wrote.

Another article by Helen Covernton described the “wild” reception of Australian Dance Theatre, which had premiered Jonathan Taylor and Nigel Triffitt’s Wildstars in Melbourne. (“John Drummond declared it ‘raw, brash, vulgar and commercial’ and promptly booked it for the 1980 Edinburgh Festival”, she wrote.) The company had toured to Portland, Bendigo, Shepparton, Albury, Echuca, Robinvale and Mildura in Victoria and Barmera and Whyalla in South Australia (in those days it was funded by both the SA and Victorian governments), and the executive editor Brian McInerney interviewed ADT dancer Pamela Buckman, who had lived in Robinvale.

There was an article on the Victorian College of the Arts School of Dance, established just two years before with Anne Woolliams as

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