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Dame Margaret Scott
, 1949

by Kenneth Rowell

pen and ink, brush and ink and watercolour on paper (sheet: 44.0 cm x 33.0 cm)

Dame Margaret Scott AC DBE (1922-2019) ballerina and teacher, left her home on a Swaziland farm in 1939. In London, having auditioned for Ninette de Valois, she joined the Sadler’s Wells Ballet, but soon resigned, to join the more experimental Ballet Rambert. Through the Blitz she danced in London and toured with the Rambert entertaining factory workers and soldiers. After the war she danced in Germany, and, feted by Russian officers, gained extraordinary insights into the ruins of Hitler’s Berlin. She arrived in Australia in 1947 as a principal with the Ballet Rambert; during the company’s fifteen months here she met the arty types of the Merioola Group in Sydney and ‘lived in sin’ with young doctor Derek ‘Dick’ Denton in Melbourne. Following her return to England in early 1949, she became Ballet Mistress of the Ballet Lambert. Scott and Denton married in Cambridge in 1953 and returned to Melbourne. She had two sons before becoming a key figure in the formation of the Australian Ballet in 1962. Two years later the Australian Ballet School opened in Melbourne under her direction. Directed by Scott until 1990, the School attracted advanced students from all over the country and was a ‘feeder’ for the Australian Ballet, furnishing many of its future stars. Early mentor to Graeme Murphy, Scott appeared in his version of The Nutcracker in 1992, 1994 and 2000.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Derek Denton AC and Dame Margaret Scott AC 2014
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Accession number: 2014.64