Presented by Ausdance

Mary Duchesne

  • Photographer: Regis Lansac. Courtesy National Library of Australia

After dancing principal roles with the Melbourne-based National Theatre Ballet, Mary became a senior soloist with The Australian Ballet in 1962.

She danced soloist and principal roles both with the Borovansky Ballet, and in England with Ballet Rambert, Walter Gore Ballet, Ballet Comique and London Festival Ballet. Later in her career, Mary was a guest artist with Sydney Dance Company and West Australian Ballet, where she was also assistant to the Director and Choreographer for several productions by Opera Australia and Sydney Theatre Company.

Mary was not only a beautiful dancer, but also a wonderful teacher, director, adjudicator and mentor to many. With natural talent, perfect proportions, intelligence, strength and technique, and an innate sense of judgement and style that became more refined as she grew older, Mary was a consummate dance artist. She was a progressive and open-minded thinker and an inspirational elder, who enriched the lives of many young dancers.

Margaret Walker OAM

  • Photographer: Regis Lansac 1982

Margaret was first inspired by dance in 1939 when she saw a performance by the visiting Covent Garden Russian Ballet in Melbourne.

The direction of her life changed dramatically as a result, and Margaret, a pharmacy student at the time, started taking ballet classes with Edouard Borovansky and his wife, Xenia. Dance became the focus of her life from then on.

Margaret gradually drifted away from ballet as she was drawn to a dance form that seemed to her more egalitarian. She became a passionate pioneer of folk and character dance in Australia and in 1967 established Dance Concert, a professional performing group that aimed to preserve the people’s dances from Australia and other countries. After Dance Concert, she established the Margaret Walker Folk Dance Centre for the resourcing, teaching and demonstration of folk dance. Margaret always believed that every child should be given an opportunity to dance and she consistently promoted dance in Aboriginal and multicultural communities.

Graeme Murphy AO

  • Photographer: Hugh Hamilton

Graeme was accepted into the Australian Ballet School at the age of fourteen and joined The Australian Ballet in 1968, but left the company two years later after glimpsing the wealth of dance outside Australia.

He danced in Europe with Les Ballets Felix Blaska for a short time, and then returned to Australia to work as a freelance choreographer.

Murphy became Director of the Dance Company of NSW in 1976, changed the company’s name to Sydney Dance Company in 1979 and, with his Associate Director Janet Vernon, developed it to become Australia’s leading contemporary dance company. Murphy has also nurtured the work of other Australian choreographers, including dancers from within his own company.

Graeme’s choreography has encompassed both abstract and narrative modes, is sometimes commercially popular, and has also always been developed with a collaborative approach. He has also been commissioned to choreograph for many other dance and opera companies. Graeme left the company in 2007 to work as freelance choreographer.

Margaret Chapple

  • Photographer: Margaret Michaelis. Courtesy of National Library of Australia
  • Company: Bodenwieser Ballet, 1950

Margaret (Chappie) was introduced to the work of Gertrud Bodenwieser by Bodenwieser dancer Shona Dunlop, and became one of the first Australian members of the Bodenwieser Ballet company and a teaching assistant to Bodenwieser.

After Bodenwieser died in 1959, Chappie and Keith Bain established a partnership that led to the formation of the Bodenwieser Dance Centre in Sydney to keep alive the spirit and name of Bodenwieser. The centre became Sydney’s premier contemporary dance studio, with Chappie teaching and choreographing there for several decades and touching many people’s lives.

In a eulogy published for Ausdance in 1996, Keith wrote:

She was ... a beautiful dancer – sleek, swift, versatile, dramatic, funny, with exquisite line and capable of a rare spiritual quality ... her unmannered movement style made her adaptable to a wide range of dynamics and choreographic demands.

The 2020 Awards are grateful for the support of these sponsors and partners.

Find out more