About Us

Perth City Ballet (Ballet Workshop Inc) was founded in 1961 and incorporated in 1969, by Artistic Director, Diana Waldron, O.A.M.  Diana was awarded the 2006 Dance Award for Lifetime Achievement to Dance in Western Australia and in the 2019 Australia Day Honours.

Perth City Ballet, over the past 59 years, has been involved in the provision of high-quality performing arts in Perth and throughout Western Australia. Whilst it’s grass roots lie within dance, it has evolved since 1961 into a unique community arts group performing an average of 70 performances per year.

Perth City Ballet’s artistic program includes ballet, drama, musical theatre and children’s productions. The company has not only presented many shows locally, but has travelled overseas on numerous occasions (seven international tours). The company has drawn critical acclaim and an outstanding international reputation. This has been achieved and successfully proven by the company’s growing reputation of originality and high technical standard. We are proud of our successful history, which began with grass roots community support and endorsement: a philosophy which continues today.

Perth City Ballet considers itself pre-professional; training and preparing young performers for the professional world. Perth City Ballet provides an apprenticeship opportunity for performing artists to develop, nurture and grow in their craft, with the emphasis on utilizing a nucleus of local talent in the productions, that then provides them with new experiences and leverage to the professional world.

PROMPT CORNER & PERTH CITY BALLET

Objectives:

  • To develop, nurture and create opportunities for local artists and those who work in support of them.
  • To develop and present original works in all facets of the performing arts at a state, national and international level.
  • To develop and maintain working links and contacts with theatre companies and artists both within Australia and internationally.
  • To maintain and improve the standard of the performing arts.
  • To promote public interest in the enrichment of the community through the performance of the theatrical arts.
  • To co-operate with local, state and Commonwealth Governments and their agencies in the promotion of these objectives.
  • To encourage, foster, develop and promote the visual and performing arts in the local community.

DIANA WALDRON, O.A.M. (Artistic Director)

History

Born in Perth WA in 1936, Diana Waldron, O.A.M., Founder and Artistic Director of Perth City Ballet, is one of Australia’s foremost ballet teachers and a prolific choreographer with over seventy original productions to her credit. Diana was first introduced to dance in the creative form by Ida Beeby, but her interest in classical ballet began when she was taken to a performance by the British Dance Troupe, Ballet Rambert at the Capitol Theatre in Perth. During the interval, she was invited backstage to meet the company’s founder, Dame Marie Rambert, and a whole new would opened up when Dame Marie suggested she followed a classical training. Since this change encounter, Diana’s interest and commitment to classical ballet has never flagged.

Diana went on to study ballet under the guidance of Linley Wilson and Kira Bousloff. She put on her first full theatre performance at the tender age of nine. Diana became the first dancing member of West Australian Ballet  and danced with them from 1952 to 1955. Diana became co-Artistic Director of West Australian Ballet with Kira Bousloff. In 1954 Diana produced her first professional choreography for the Festival of Perth, “Peter and the Wolf”.  Following its successful premiere, Diana realized that choreography was her true vocation, but there was a lack of professional, classically trained dancers in Perth. So she decided that she would have to train her own dancers and so opened a dance school where dancers could be coached in her specific dance style. She gained her qualifications as an Advanced Teacher of the Royal Academy of Dancing and her students soon began to get work in Europe and many were quickly snapped up by the Australian Ballet. She has produced 16 successful “Solo Seal Candidates” and has innumerable prize winners in international competitions.

In 1961, just 6 weeks after the birth of Stuart Dean, Diana Waldron’s youngest child, Ballet Workshop Incorporated was founded. Ballet Workshop Inc started with 12 dancers and their first production was at the Old Dolphin Theatre. Their original aim was to provide a vehicle for the development of local dancers, choreographers and allied theatrical artists. The company was formed because there was an increasing population of young dancers in Perth with no outlet. There were also choreographers, and designers and so this nucleus of artistic talent was moulded to form Perth City Ballet. The company very quickly progressed as an innovative and original group already creating many unique Australian works. In 1961, Diana’s devotion to dance was rewarded when the Government of Western Australia offered funding for her company. New horizons opened with the commissioning of new works and musical scores and the opportunity to present their work outside Australia and devote more time to an educational program for the future generation of dancers.

International Tours

  • 1972 - Tour to Asia and Singapore
  • 1976 - Tour to Asia, Singapore and Malaysia
  • 1979 - Tour to Scotland, Italy and Austria
  • 1983 - Tour to Scotland and Spain
  • 1987 - Tour to Switzerland and Yugoslavia
  • 1991 - Tour to England, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Denmark and Italy
  • 1994 - Tour to Scotland and England

It soon became apparent that apart from a dance school, the performing company had the need for a permanent theatre. Once again Diana knew that she would have to build one herself. She and her architect husband found an old limestone quarry 1km from their home and she went ahead and built an amphitheatre for the company with modern facilities based on ancient Greek amphitheatres. The 655-seat theatre is now considered a gem among Australian theatres with regular performances by international and local companies, especially during the Perth Summer Festival.

Diana Waldron is still Artistic Director of the Company 50 years after its conception and it is a credit to the work and dedication by her. The number of young dancers whose lives and careers Diana has enriched and continues to enrich, could only be reckoned in the thousands maybe 50,000, or more. Her unique talent as both a choreographer and teacher have brought the company international recognition while Perth City Ballet’s repertoire of full-length classical and modern work continues to grow.

QUARRY AMPHITHEATRE

Foresight, imagination, dedication and not least, stubborn determination have been the passwords for Diana and Ken Waldron’s tremendous achievement in the creation of the unique amphitheatre in the quarry at Reabold Hill. In January 2017, Perth City Ballet, under the umbrella organisation of Ballet Workshop Inc., celebrated their 30th year of ballet at the Quarry Amphitheatre, in Floreat Park. Diana and Ken Waldron were responsible for the inception, raising finances and building the Quarry Amphitheatre at Reabold Hill. Their conception of a performance space in the bush setting of this disused quarry was both innovative and exciting and with Community Employment Program, voluntary labour and much blood, toil, tears, sweat over a period of two years (1984-1986), they realized their dreams and confounded their critics.

Snuggled in an old limestone quarry with views across the bush towards the city, is an architectural achievement that has revolutionized Perth’s attitude towards culture and the great outdoors. Diana and Ken Waldron managed the Quarry Amphitheatre from 1986 to 1990.  Perth City Ballet (Ballet Workshop Inc) opened the Quarry Amphitheatre in November 1986, with the ballet Picnic at Hanging Rock, choreographed by Diana.

OVERVIEW OF PROMPT CORNER & PERTH CITY BALLET PERFORMANCE HISTORY AT THE QUARRY

Since 1986, Ballet Workshop Inc, through Perth City Ballet, has presented the ballet classics each January. Musicals were initially a joint production with Playlovers, with performances over the summer season. In 1988 Music Makers Unlimited was established under the umbrella of Ballet Workshop and performances usually took place over March and/or December.

In 1996 Ballet Workshop Inc celebrated a decade of performing at the Quarry Amphitheatre, with numerous performances throughout the year.  Some of the highlights of this anniversary included the December 1995 Summer Season opening with a fitting celebration of the production of Grease, which was first performed by the company with Playlovers in the summer of 1986. Perth City Ballet performed the full length ballet of Swan Lake in January with visiting guest artists from Bulgaria. In March 1996 Fiddler on the Roof was performed at the Quarry followed by Jesus Christ Superstar November / December 1996.  In 1997 it produced one of Broadway's longest-running musicals, A Chorus Line with costumes and sets bought from the producers of the Australian revival production of the musical.  In later years, it produced The Sound of Music and Oklahoma! for the second time.

In 2007, Perth City Ballet marked the 20-year anniversary at the Quarry with the full length ballet Carmen. The company invited back to Perth, international guest artists, Jonathan Buckels and Lisia Moala to perform the leading roles, Jonathan also choreographed the ballet. Both he and Lisia were trained by Diana Waldron.

With the company still performing at the Quarry Amphitheatre each year, they have, in recent years, presented, La Sylphide, Don Quixote (second production), A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake and another production of Giselle.  In 2021, their production is the original ballet Red Shoes, choreographed by Diana Waldron and based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale.