Dancing Under the Southern Skies is a new book that takes us behind the red velvet curtain to explore the history of ballet in Australia.

Written by acclaimed journalist and dance critic Valerie Lawson, Dancing Under the Southern Skies takes us back in time via a mosaic of interviews, letters and the personal lives of the dancers who toured to Australia from Europe and those who remained here to create companies such as The Australian Ballet.

Lawson charts the progress of dance in Australia in relation to its broader cultural evolution, from a nation that worshipped dancers from overseas, to a culture that gave rise to companies such as The Australian Ballet, Sydney Dance Company, Bangarra Dance Theatre and more.

According to The Australian Ballet’s artistic director David McAllister, it’s the personal stories in the book that make it such an engaging read, as he explains in his foreword to the book.

“What appeals to me most is the way Valerie has unfolded this huge canvas of history through the personal stories of the many artists who lived through these momentous events. Dance is such an ephemeral art form and it is passed down through the generations from teacher to student, and these stories are what inspire us to strive and grow and advance the continuum of creativity,” says McAllister. “Australia has a fantastically rich ballet history and it is wonderful that one of our most ardent dance advocates has written about it for us all to enjoy.” 

Dancing Under the Southern Skies is available from good bookstores or may be ordered online:

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