Image by Tom Baker


January 19th, 2017 — January 21st, 2017

Ballet Theatre Celebrating 80 Years - Executive Director’s Welcome.

Eighty years ago, in Brisbane, a small band of dedicated ballet teachers, lead by the indomitable Miss Phyllis Danaher, established the Queensland branch of the newly  formed Australasian Society of Operatic dancing, an umbrella organisation for teachers of ballet (or operatic dancing as it was then called). This was the genesis of Ballet Theatre of Queensland, now arguably Queensland’s, if not Australia’s, leading youth ballet company.

Ballet Theatre’s 80 year history reads like a who’s who of the State’s luminaries who have supported this unique organisation over the decades as it performed in regional and city centres, giving talented young dancers the chance to perform at a professional level.

Today as we prepare to celebrate this milestone, I welcome you to our season of Cinderella. This is a ballet that celebrates the triumph of kindness and generosity over mean-spiritedness; that says dreams can come true for those who dare to believe in them; but most of all it is a ballet about transformation. It is apt then that productions of Cinderella have featured throughout our history as we, as a company, have also grown, thrived and transformed.

Our dancers have been working tirelessly these past eight months to bring this beautiful ballet to the stage, under the expert guidance of Artistic Director Timothy Brown and Rehearsal Director Elizabeth Whelan, assisted by Brooke Thompson. Together they have created ballet magic, and we are privileged, therefore, to once again have such a talented group of young people and creative talent in our company.

Ballet Theatre relies on the support of many to bring its productions to life. I thank our key corporate supporters Bloch, The Courier Mail, Crowe Horwath, and Pondera Physio and Pilates for their valuable support over the past year. Most importantly, however, I acknowledge the commitment and enthusiasm of the dancers’ parents and other dedicated supporters, who through a love of ballet give so generously of their time. Thank you.

And thank you, our audience, for being with us for this performance in our 80th year. Please enjoy!

Denise Richardson – BTQ Executive Director


Newsletter Wednesday 7 June 2017

Writer: Michelle Dursun

Ballet Theatre of Queensland (BTQ) heralded its 80th anniversary year with a production of Cinderella in January. Directed and choreographed by the company’s artistic director, Tim Brown, it featured a gorgeous Cinderella (Meghan Hansen and Zoe Brady) and a debonair Prince Charming (Tristan Fraser-Preston). Held at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, it the latest production for the youth dance company, which offers professionally staged performance opportunities for talented young Queensland dancers.

BTQ is Australia’s oldest ballet company, pre-dating both the Australian Ballet and the Queensland Ballet. It operates as a not-for-profit incorporated organisation, governed by a board, and is independent from any dance school. With no government funding, the lavish productions rely on the talents and expertise of the creative and production teams overseen by executive director Denise Richardson.

The company's beautifully produced classical ballets are targeted to a family audience and aim to foster an appreciation of dance among the younger generation. BTQ auditions annually for company members and stages ballets with two casts to provide dancers with the opportunity to perform in a variety of roles.

Cinderella drew on the performance talents of 58 dancers aged from 10 to 18 years from 34 dance schools stretching from Hervey Bay to Kingscliff. Sets were designed by Bill Haycock and costumes by Carmel Wenck.

The company was founded in 1937 by Phyllis May Danaher (MBE, the founding president of the Queensland branch of the Australasian Operatic Dancing Society, later the Queensland Ballet Society. In 1953 the society established the Brisbane Ballet Theatre to provide professional standard performance opportunities to local dancers. Prior to their inception, ballet had only been seen by the public through irregular visits from international touring companies. Danaher choreographed the company’s first original work, The Wasps, which was performed at Brisbane City Hall in 1956, followed by Variations Symphoniques in 1957. The company was renamed Ballet Theatre of Queensland in 1963, with Danaher as its director, a role she served in until 1984.

Many respected dancers and choreographers have worked with the company over the years, including Garth Welch (now a patron of the company), Marilyn Jones, Maggie Sietsma, Natalie Weir, Graham Collins and Wendy and Judith Lowe. A treasure trove of annual past productions includes Les Sylphides, Graduation Ball, Pinocchio, Paquita, Sylvia, The Nutcracker, Peter and the Wolf, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, The Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, Aladdin, Alice in Wonderland and The Little Mermaid. From the 1970s to late 1980s BTQ toured classical ballets extensively throughout South East Queensland, with dancers billeted by families of local dance schools.

The company also offers a costume and set hire service to ballet schools, high schools and youth performance companies along with two scholarships available to BTQ dancers. The Phyllis Danaher Memorial Scholarship is available to a dancer who has danced with BTQ for at least one year and the Jodie White-Bivona Memorial Scholarship is awarded to a dancer who has danced with BTQ for two consecutive years and shows outstanding ability, dedication and love of ballet. This scholarship was been set up in memory of Jodie White-Bivona who passed away in 2012 and was joint artistic director along with her husband, Boris Bivona, for 10 years.

The unique recipe that is BTQ has provided the ballet world with a raft of talent with many dancers moving on from the company to international performance careers and opportunities. Just in the last few years, dancers from the company have been accepted to the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet in Saint Petersburg as well as the Royal Ballet School and the Australian Ballet School.

Tim Brown explains that BTQ offers a range of growth opportunities for dancers including an appreciation for “how dancers, choreographers and designers come together to create a show from start to finish”. He says the dancers also learn “a good work ethic as well as the skills to communicate and socialise with fellow dancers in a large company setting”. This helps to prepare them for life as well as for working effectively within a team.

The company has a close association with the Queensland Ballet. Principal artist Clare Morehen and former members Amelia Waller and Hao Bin often visit to take class or assist with rehearsals. “Working with people who are either currently in the profession as dancers or choreographers, or recently retired, gives our dancers a very valuable insight into the profession,” Richardson says. “The generosity of everyone we have invited to coach in passing on their vast experience has inspired, extended and developed our dancers immeasurably. It also acts as a very important validation of the wonderful work Tim and our rehearsal director Liz Whelan do in creating these ballets.”

The John Oxley Library in Brisbane has more information on the history of BTQ following the 2013 donation of the Dayne Cory Records. Cory was a dancer and administrator with BTQ for over 20 years. His donation of programs, newspaper clippings, flyers, posters, recordings, choreographic instructions and costume designs along with over 1000 negatives and photos showcases the extensive contribution of BTQ (and those who have supported the company) to the history of ballet in Queensland. Richardson says that in addition to the John Oxley Library collection, the State Library of Queensland has recently approached BTQ asking permission to archive its website in its mission to "build a comprehensive collection of Queensland publications to ensure the availability of our documentary heritage both now and in the future”.

(Denise Richardson is one of Dance Australia's Queensland correspondents.)




Concert Hall, QPAC
Executive Director
Denise Richardson
Artistic Director
Timothy Brown
Production Director
Daniel Endicott
Rehearsal Director
Elizabeth Whelan
Brooke Thompson (Trainee)
Board of Directors
Craig Spencer (Chair), Sharon Christodoulou, Barbara Evensen, Michelle Platz, Maree Sandford, Jeremy Wicht
Timothy Brown (acknowledging Frederick Ashton)
Assistant Choreographer
Elizabeth Whelan
Costume Designer
Carmel Wenck
Scenic Designer
Bill Haycock
Lighting Designer
Andrew Meadows
Sergei Prokofiev, Alexander Glazunov and Ludwig Minkus


  • Megan Hansen
  • Zoe Brady
  • Tristan Fraser-Preston
  • Hanna Chaki
  • Mia Sandford
  • Charlotte Hollett
  • Charlotte Walters
  • Chelsea Devereaux
  • Georgia Mourant
  • Grace Buchanan
  • Jodie Hammermeister
  • Jordan Lennon
  • Kate Astorquia
  • Sofi York
  • Zoe Grahl
  • Kelis Wiseman
  • Cormac McDonald
  • Dominic Thomas
  • Sebastian Harper
  • Abbey Haller
  • Abbey Kelleher
  • Amy Ronnfeldt
  • Carly Hill
  • Chloe O'Sullivan
  • Ella Hawkins
  • Emily Soccol
  • Emma King
  • Erika Chaki
  • Gretel Chapman
  • Kate Gibbons
  • Katelyn Jensen
  • Katie Bell
  • Kayla Topalovic
  • Kelis Wiseman
  • Kirrily Jackson
  • Lara McGahan
  • Madeline Prebble
  • Madeline Tuck
  • Mei Mei Tan
  • Nia Savas
  • Poppi Eccleston
  • Riley Taylor
  • Samantha Gehrke
  • Tia Stammer
  • Alisa Timofeeva
  • Annabelle Horner
  • Annie Hardinge
  • Audrey Lusk
  • Erin Sheffield
  • Grace Mulherin
  • Iset Storey
  • Kayli Bell
  • Maria Doolan
  • Mia Claessen
  • Pallas Clarey
  • Rima Fujisaki
  • Stella Wrigley
  • Zara Ibraham


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