A Virtual Evening with David McAllister

A Virtual Evening with David McAllister



In recognition of your ongoing support of The Friends of The Australian Ballet we invite you and your household to join us for a very special virtual evening celebrating The Australian Ballet’s Don Quixote choreographed by Rudolph Nureyev.

In an online event curated especially for our philanthropic community, you will be treated to a live in-conversation between The Australian Ballet’s Artistic Director David McAllister and Marilyn Rowe who performed the roles of the Street Dancer and the Queen of the Dryads in the 1973 film also starring Rudolph Nureyev and Robert Helpmann.

You will then be invited to view a screening of Don Quixote via The Australian Ballet’s Ballet TV.


Thursday 17 September
7pm Discussion and Q&A


David McAllister in conversation with Marilyn Rowe, introduced by Kenneth Watkins, Philanthropy Director


7.45pm Don Quixote
RSVP by Tuesday 15 September


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Event access details will be provided following RSVP.

Friends in Virtual Conversation | Joints and Well-being


In recognition of your ongoing support of The Friends of The Australian Ballet we invite you to join us for a warm interactive conversation via Zoom.

Friends of The Australian Ballet Chair Greg Khoury and Friends sub-committee member, dancer and remedial therapist Gayle Wakeling-Taylor will explore some of the ideas recently shared by The Australian Ballet and La Trobe University into joint management and treatment.


How did ‘The Merry Widow’ Shape the Early 1900’s?

How did ‘The Merry Widow’ Shape the Early 1900’s?

Once upon a time, the people of the world looked to costumes as the dictators of fashion trends. It’s hard to believe that the extravagant gowns and accessories could be adapted in everyday life, however, in 1907, the fashion of “The Merry Widow” crossed into the mainstream consciousness.


Ever heard of a Merry Widow hat?


The operetta premiered on Broadway in 1907, in a time where women sported a tailored, hour-glass figure with a flowing skirt. However, the heroine, Hanna Glawari, contrasted the simplistic, natural look with a large, circular hat, covered in swathes of gauzy chiffon and white ostrich feathers.


If you are under the impression that this hat is a little bit extravagant, you may be interested to learn that it is fairly understated in comparison to the “trendy hats” it inspired.


There was no mistaking it- The Merry Widow created a cultural phenomenon of hat-wearing, with these hats becoming a symbol of wealth and class. The base widths of the hats varied, with most usually stretching to 45cm, however, there was no restrictions in the height of the hats. Although Ostrich feathers complemented the look nicely, the hats were also decorated with flowers, and sometimes sprinkled with a couple stuffed birds.


A parody post card of “The Merry Widow Hat” c.1908

The hats grew to be a sign of class and wealth.

Lily Elsie, the original Hanna, in a “Merry Widow Hat”





Hats aside, The Merry Widow and the composer, Franz Lehár, became a global phenomenon internationally, travelling from Austria to the UK, and even to Broadway in the US. Bearing in mind the difficultly in touring productions in the eras before air travel, it is quite remarkable how the show was able to migrate into various countries, languages and cultures, yet still leave a lasting cultural imprint. For example, it is believed that Lehár’s storyline in The Merry Widow sparked a new demand for Viennese Waltz Operas in the States over the next decade. Moreover, Lehár’s work also paved the way for a new wave of Viennese Operettas, which would centre two constantly battling lovers who would hide their feelings from the other, until, they reveal their attraction in the last scene.


It’s remarkable how this story has been continually shared over the last 100 years. The Australian Ballet’s most recent adaptation is a great spectacle of talent, colour and intricate design. However, once you learn of the quirky backstory of this ballet, so many small details in the costuming, such as the odd Ostrich feather here and there, are suddenly highlighted in your eye.



Hanna’s Famous Hat, Adam Bull and Amber Scott (Jeff Busby)




FAB Focus with Cassie Parker

Cassie on Coppélia


Hello! My name is Cassie Parker and I’m a digital marketing intern with FAB. I consider myself a bit obsessive with ballet and theatre, and although any childhood hopes of becoming a ‘prima-ballerina’ are long-gone, it has been an absolute thrill to be involved with FAB over the past year.

At 4, I was slotted into the local ballet studio, “Miss McGirr’s School of Ballet,” where I continue to take classes today. Every dancer, no matter how long ago, remembers their first performance and cherishes their first costume/character. While many young ballerinas assume the role of a flower or a fairy, my earliest ballet memory was performing as a fish swimming below Captain Hook’s boat in Peter Pan. A fellow fishie fell over in front of me during the routine, but as the show must go on, I ran past my friend without missing a beat in my spring pointes.

Coppèlia holds a dear place in my heart, and I am forever grateful to my selfless grandmother who gave up her ticket for me in November 2016. To me, no other traditional ballet moves, both physically and emotionally, in the way that Coppèlia does. Although there is beautiful acting in Giselle, Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, I have never been more immersed in the ballet than watching every character be (literally) animated in Coppèlia. Ako Kondo’s strong-willed Swanhilda was a character I had rarely seen on the classical stage, and the physicality within Dr Coppelius’ toy room still amazes me. There was a crash dummy in the room, which was strewn on a chair, folding his limbs such unnatural angles that I almost swore it was a stuffed doll (it wasn’t!).

However, the storyline of Dr Coppelius is tragically beautiful, and the complexity of his character being both an antagonist as well as the victim is a plot device that has left me thinking years after the curtain fell.

Another iconic aspect of the ballet is the music. Leo Delibes’ score retells the story as if it were a book – it’s hard to describe, but although it has been years since I last saw the stage performance, the score still brings me very close to the emotions of the storyline, immersing me in the animatronic amazement of the toy room, as well as the broken-hearted despair of Dr Coppelius.

It’s a very exciting time at the moment – my ballet classes have just started back, and my ballet school is setting up a few holiday classes to help regain some lost technique. I am very excited to stream Coppèlia on BalletTV, and I’m hoping to finally watch it with my Grandma from her home