Phillip Adams farewells Balletlab

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'Tryptych' by Phillip Adams. Image by 3 Deep and Georges Antoni.
A scene from Adams' 'Triptych', created for the Frame Festival (now also defunct). Image by 3 Deep and Georges Antoni.

Phillip Adams, the founding director of Balletlab, is shutting down the company he founded and is taking up the position of MA Coordinator and Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Dance at the Victorian College of the Arts.

He is departing with a mix of "deflation" and "elation". Adams established Balletlab in 1998, championing contemporary and queer dance and art under his unique and flamboyant leadership. In 2016 he and the company became resident at Temperance Hall in South Melbourne and became responsible for its management as a home venue and venue for hire.

His departure follows a round of funding blows. In 2022, Balletlab lost its multi-year funding from Creative Victoria – $128,250 per year – and was not successful in its application to Creative Australia's Four-Year Investment Program. Despite some project and local government grants, he announced last year that Temperance Hall was facing closure in 2024 unless more funds could be found.

"The process of shutting down BalletLab has been a deeply deflating experience, carrying both a sense of emotional release and catharsis," Adams says in a statement on the Temperance Hall website. "Some days, tears flowed freely, while on others, there was a sense of relief from the weight of constantly proving worthiness in the eyes of crucial Government stakeholders."

He will remain on Temperance Hall's board and continue to advocate for its survival. 

"BalletLab leaves behind a legacy of work that put forward queerness to reflect upon its own history in Australian contemporary dance and I hope remains integral to the institution of dance while also relevant now to younger generations of dance makers and scholars," he says.


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