Dame Margaret Scott AC DBE 1922

Margaret Scott

Dame Margaret Scott

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 26 April 1922, Margaret Scott began her dance training under the distinguished Royal Academy teacher Ivy Conmee.

After a successful audition, she joined the Rambert company as a principal dancer in 1943.

 

Dance captain

In November 2000 RMIT University conferred an honorary Doctor of Education on Dame Margaret Scott. In his address the Vice-Chancellor said: ‘Dame Margaret Scott’s vision for the Australian Ballet School was epitomised by its breadth. She did not see students merely as performers. She was equally concerned to develop their intellect. Dame Margaret was also concerned to identify and encourage creativity and students with “other” talents. It was she, for example, who first recognised and strongly encouraged the outstanding choreographic talents of Graeme Murphy, Director of the Sydney Dance Company, and steered him into this field. Equally she encouraged students to pursue non-performance fields of interest, such as design. Dame Margaret Scott’s intellect and artistry have always steered her in the direction of broadening the concept of dance. She has been involved in most if not all of the major developments in dance education in this country since the mid 1960s, including the establishment of the country’s dance organisation, Ausdance. It is most fitting for RMIT University to grant Dame Margaret the award of Honorary Doctorate in Education in recognition not merely of one of its graduates, but of an outstanding dance educator who has done a great deal to foster dance and arts education internationally.’

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 26 April 1922, Margaret Scott began her dance training under the distinguished Royal Academy teacher Ivy Conmee. After she won an under-15 championship she was taken by her mother to London where she auditioned successfully for the Sadler’s Wells Ballet School. She studied with Ninette de Valois and was soon accepted into the Sadler’s Wells company, which at that time included Michael Somes, Margot Fonteyn, Ray Powell and Robert Helpmann.

Though Scott eventually became a Wells soloist, she was attracted by the more adventurous repertoire of the Ballet Rambert. After a successful audition, she joined the Rambert company as a principal dancer in 1943. They toured widely and danced in factories and army camps as well. At war’s end they were sent to Germany to entertain the occupation forces. In 1947 Ballet Rambert came to Australia under the auspices of D.D. O’Connor and the British Council – the first major British company to visit Australia after the war. Scott was one of several Rambert dancers who remained here after the tour.

 

Biographical references

H.C. Coombs: Trial Balance – Issues of My Working Life, Sun Books, 1983
Edward H. Pask: Ballet in Australia – The Second Act, 1940-1980, Oxford, 1982
Pamela Ruskin: Invitation to the Dance – The Story of the Australian Ballet School, Collins, 1989
Frank Van Straten: National Treasure – The Story of Gertrude Johnson and the National TheatreVictoria Press, 1994