After 50 years and 6406 shows for The Australian Ballet, it’s safe to say Colin Peasley has some stories.
This year, at the age of 77, he retires as one of The Australian Ballet’s founding dancers and its longest-serving member, but not before delivering a parting gift to his fans.
As a special farewell, Peasley will divulge some of those tales of tights, tours and tantrums as the star of his own show, On Stage with Colin Peasley.
We asked Peasley to share some of his favourite moments from those 50 years with The Weekly Review.
He will take the stage at the Sydney Opera House for the final time in December for a performance of Swan Lake.
On Stage with Colin Peasley
Arts Centre Melbourne
September 22, 5pm
“My life as a dancer has been extremely lucky.
“I have been able to see The Australian Ballet grow from a good company to one of the world’s most acclaimed and my career has progressed through various stages that have always given me immense pleasure. I joined the company as a corps de ballet dancer on its very first day and slowly worked through the ranks to principal character dancer. I have at times been the company’s ballet master, teacher and education manager. So, I leave this company in the way I have worked for it, with a great love of dance and dancers and a particular passion for The Australian Ballet. Long may they triumph!”
Colin Peasley and young ballerinas \ 1994
Photographed by Gilles Terrier
“When I reached the age of 60 and worried about a life after dance, our then artistic director, Maina Gielgud, solved my dilemma by suggesting that I start the company’s education program to take ballet to a wider community. It has been one of the great joys of my life. Young people are so eager to learn and so appreciative that I now worry about how very much I am going to miss that part of my career.”
Colin and Marilyn Rowe in Romeo and Juliet \ 1975
Photographed by David Parker
“The Australian Ballet is renowned for its great full-length ballets. This photo is from John Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet and it features ballerina Marilyn Rowe as Juliet, being consoled by an unusually pious Colin Peasley!”
Colin and Marilyn Rowe in The Merry Widow \ 1985
“When Sir Robert Helpmann took over sole directorship of The Australian Ballet in the mid-1970s he was determined to make the operetta The Merry Widow into a ballet. There were huge complications in obtaining the rights and complaints from some segments of the ballet world suggesting that it was below the dignity of a ballet company. However, he persevered … it was, and still is, one of our greatest successes.”
Backstage Swan Lake \ 2008
Photographed by Lisa Tomasetti
“The very first ballet ever performed by The Australian Ballet in 1962 was the world’s most successful ballet, Swan Lake. When David McAllister became artistic director of The Australian Ballet in 2002 he commissioned Graeme Murphy to choreograph a new version. It was magnificent. This year we presented it during our New York season.”
To commemorate its own golden anniversary, The Australian Ballet has released Luminous: Celebrating 50 years of The Australian Ballet. This 368-page coffee-table book reveals dancers, directors and designers at work and play during the company’s first half-century of showcasing the best in Australian dance. Luminous is available now for $99 from good bookshops and The Australian Ballet’s online shop at