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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

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Marilyn Rowe

c. 1975 (printed 2017)
Robert McFarlane

inkjet print on paper (sheet: 48.5 cm x 33.0 cm, image: 35.9 cm x 24.0 cm)

Marilyn Rowe AM OBE (b. 1946), former prima ballerina, was the first graduate of The Australian Ballet School to become its director. Born in Sydney, Rowe was one of 23 students in the first intake of The Australian Ballet School in 1964. At that time, Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn were guesting with The Australian Ballet, which had formed in 1962. Dame Peggy van Praagh invited Rowe to join the company at the end of 1964 and she was promoted to principal artist in 1969. Four years later, she and Kelvin Coe won silver medals at the Second International Ballet Competition in Moscow. Rowe danced all of the major roles in The Australian Ballet's repertoire and had several works created for her by leading international choreographers, including Gemini (Glen Tetley), The Merry Widow (Ronald Hynd) and Anna Karenina (André Prokovsky). She and Coe performed in New York and London, and became the first Australians to be invited to dance with the Bolshoi, Riga and Vilnius ballet companies. At the end of 1980, while pregnant, Rowe's husband Christopher Maver died in a plane crash. She went into seclusion, but when her son was six months old, in response to demands from the dancers, she returned to the company as an adviser to the artistic director. In 1982 and 1985 she received the Green Room Award for Best Female Dancer. Director of the Dancers' Company from 1984 to 1986, she was on the board of The Australian Ballet from 1994 to 2009, and was Director of The Australian Ballet School from 1999 to 2014. Rowe has produced and directed major contemporary and classical works and received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Australian Dance Awards in 2015.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2017
© Robert McFarlane/Copyright Agency, 2021

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Robert McFarlane (age 33 in 1975)

Marilyn Rowe AM OBE (age 29 in 1975)

Subject professions

Performing arts

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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