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Lisa Pavane steps down as director of The Australian Ballet School

Lisa Pavane. Photo by Lynette Wills.
Lisa Pavane. Photo by Lynette Wills.

The Director of The Australian Ballet School, Lisa Pavane, has announced that she is stepping down after almost a decade in the role.

Pavane is the fourth Director of The Australian Ballet School, contributing to the legacy of founding director Dame Margaret Scott AC DBE, Gailene Stock CBE AM and Marilyn Rowe AM OBE. Pavane will conclude her distinguished tenure at the end of June 2024, following a gala celebration to honour The Australian Ballet School’s 60th anniversary.

This moment is a milestone in ballet history, and for Pavane, it will signify a curtain call on her 46-year relationship with The Australian Ballet School.

Audiences will remember Pavane as an esteemed prima ballerina in the 1980s and 1990s. After graduating from The Australian Ballet School in 1978, she swiftly rose through The Australian Ballet ranks to become a Principal Artist before moving to London to become a Senior Principal at the English National Ballet. Her stellar international career also included many guest artist roles in the USA and Europe. Pavane retired from the stage in 1999 and joined The Australian Ballet School faculty in 2007, where she held a number of leadership positions and was awarded a Churchill Fellowship. She commenced as Director of The Australian Ballet School in 2015.

“Throughout my time at The Australian Ballet School, I have been continuously inspired and uplifted by the unwavering dedication and passion displayed by our students and my colleagues,” Pavane said. “Their commitment to excellence and the relentless pursuit of knowledge have shaped this school into a nurturing and dynamic community, fostering growth and development in countless individuals. Together, we have celebrated successes, overcome challenges, and created a legacy of learning and growth that will endure for years to come.”

She continued, “I feel honoured to have been a part of The Australian Ballet School as a student, teacher and then leading the School as its Director. As I prepare to embark on this new chapter of my life, I am excited for the opportunities to embrace new energy and inspiration. I have a heart full of cherished memories shared with the School community. I know I will leave with a deep sense of pride in the remarkable achievements of our students and the dedication of staff at The Australian Ballet School. I look forward to witnessing the continued success of the School’s alumni as they make a significant impact in the world of dance and become ambassadors for the School’s values and excellence.”

The Australian Ballet School Chair Sarah Matheson AM said, “Under the leadership of Lisa Pavane, The Australian Ballet School has flourished as an institution of unparalleled artistic excellence, consistently developing new generations of dancers who embody grace, skill and passion in their craft. Lisa champions holistic wellbeing and has developed a team whose skills ensure that the emotional, mental and physical health of our students is nurtured just as much as their technical ability. Lisa has also worked tirelessly to build and strengthen partnerships and collaborations with renowned dance companies, institutions and artists worldwide, and fostered opportunities for our students to gain exposure to diverse perspectives and experiences.”

Pavane initiated annual interstate performance opportunities for students of The Australian Ballet School, commencing with the inaugural Showcase tour to Sydney Opera House in 2016, and initiating the School’s Scholarship Awards program.

With the launch of The Australian Ballet School’s first Boarding Program and boarding house (‘Marilyn Rowe House’) in 2016, Pavane established much-needed facilities for interstate and international students, who leave home as young as 13 years of age, to pursue their dream.

Pavane regularly adjudicates internationally at the world’s most prestigious ballet competitions including the Youth Grand Prix and Pacific International Ballet Competition. She has prepared many students to represent the School in international student exchange programs and competitions including now artist of The Australian Ballet, Amy Ronnfeldt: a Prize Winner in the prestigious Prix de Lausanne global ballet competition in 2022.

Building upon former Director Marilyn Rowe’s legacy of student health and wellbeing, Pavane expanded the scope and capacity of inhouse expertise and care, building a team of renowned health professionals and appointing the School’s first Health and Wellbeing Manager. She collaborated with the Centre of Excellence in Eating Disorders to create a set of Eating Disorder Early Intervention Guidelines for the School. Pavane’s passion for an all-encompassing approach to dancer health has seen her promote a culture of positive psychology, focusing on each student as an individual and supporting them to graduate as young adults well-prepared to flourish both in their careers and in life.

Committed to the evolving artform and telling uniquely Australian stories, Pavane commissioned two new story ballets for world-renowned Australian choreographers to create on the School’s students. Lucas Jervies’ Butterfly (2021) was the first full-length ballet created for the School in 19 years. Loughlan Prior’s Possum Magic ballet, based on the beloved book written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Julie Vivas, will premiere this December.

Pavane successfully led the School through the most challenging period in its history, the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. She navigated multiple lockdowns, remote learning, modified studio training, and countless postponed and cancelled performances. When metropolitan venues remained closed, she developed an innovative post-lockdown regional tour to Geelong and Horsham in 2021. Pavane also established a new Post Graduate Year program to extend training and care to the graduate year students affected by the pandemic.

The Board is working closely with REA Consulting to conduct a global search for The Australian Ballet School’s new Director. The campaign will commence this week, led by REA Consulting Partner Vanessa Duscio.

For more information about The Australian Ballet School, visit

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