Australia Post celebrates 50 Years of The Australian Ballet

16 October 2012

In 2012, The Australian Ballet marks 50 years in an illustrious history, and Australia Post is celebrating with the release of two domestic base-rate (60c) stamps. A range of collectables is also available to mark this remarkable milestone in Australia's cultural life.

Australia's premier ballet company is notable for its classical and contemporary dance repertoire, and also for the versatility, technical skill and warmth its dancers bring to performances. The company's full-time ensemble of dancers attracts both audience and critical acclaim - accolades it has enjoyed throughout its history - performing outstanding works created by both Australian and international choreographers.

"Australia Post is delighted to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Australian Ballet. We believe the stamps reflect the movement, elegance and grace of this much-loved art form, and trust this stamp issue will be popular with ballet enthusiasts and the general public alike," said Australia Post Philatelic Manager, Michael Zsolt.

The Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet, David McAllister, said it was a great honour for the company to be commemorated on the two beautiful stamp designs.

"It's wonderful that we and Australia Post - two iconic Australian companies - have been able to collaborate in our 50th anniversary with a memento of such a momentous year. I love that we can bring a little bit of art to a tiny, everyday item and hopefully make people smile when they see it!," said David McAllister AM Artistic Director.

The Australian Ballet was formed in 1962. Its inaugural performance was Swan Lake, opening at Sydney's Her Majesty's Theatre on 2 November of that year, under the guidance of founding artistic director Peggy van Praagh. It was closely followed by the company's first commissioned work, Rex Reid's Melbourne Cup.

In 1965, van Praagh was joined at the helm of The Australian Ballet by renowned performer Robert Helpmann as co-artistic director and choreographer. Helpmann's first work in the previous year was The Display, a spectacular production that was unassailably Australian and helped to establish the company's reputation internationally. Throughout its history The Australian Ballet has been joined by international guest artists, such as Erik Bruhn, Margot Fonteyn and Rudolph Nureyev.

Based at Southbank, Melbourne, The Australian Ballet is an extremely busy dance company, presenting around 200 performances each year in Australia and overseas. It undertook its first major international tour in 1965 - visiting Europe, Lebanon, England and North America. To date, The Australian Ballet has undertaken 33 international tours, which have enhanced its well-earned and enviable reputation.

Through its 50 years, this unique and dynamic dance company has come to mirror the shifts that have shaped broader Australian society. Its dancers reflect the cultural diversity of this country, and through its productions and performances The Australian Ballet engages with issues of consequence. With the touchstone "Caring for tradition, daring to be different", The Australian Ballet revisits its beginnings in this 50th anniversary year; among its five commissions is a new production of the classic Swan Lake, with which the company's story began.

The stamps and products were designed by Jo Muré from the Australia Post Design Studio, and feature the photographs of Georges Antoni.

The stamp issue features a limited-edition (15,000) postal and numismatic cover (PNC), which presents a 50 cent uncirculated, cupro-nickel coin designed by Aaron Baggio for the Royal Australian Mint.

The Australian Ballet: 50 Years stamp products also include a first day cover, stamp pack, self-adhesive roll of 200 x 60c stamps and a maxicard set of two. The stamps and associated products are available from participating Australia Post retail outlets, via mail order on 1800 331 794 and online at auspost.com.au/stamps from 16 October 2012 while stocks last.