Elizabeth Cameron Dalman
Elizabeth Cameron Dalman OAM is known as the founder of modern Australian dance. When she established the Australian Dance Theatre - external site in Adelaide in 1965, the reaction to her new dance form was controversial.
Many Australians couldn't get enough of this modern, expressive dance and, in Dalman's words, loved it because it was new and exciting'. Others, particularly the mainstream arts community, were scathing in their criticism. They believed modern dance would never take off and was only for heavy dancers or those who couldn't do classical ballet.
Elizabeth Cameron Dalman's foundation of the Australian Dance Theatre led to a flourishing of public programs and workshops in modern dance techniques and improvisation. Together with the establishment of the Australian Ballet in 1962 under Dame Peggy van Praagh, Australia confirmed its position on the international dance stage.
Modern dance was seen as the freedom to express a modern view of the world and had its beginnings in the first wave of Australian ballet which also draw on collaborations with contemporary musicians, visual artists and photographers with the intention of creating a new and invigorating medium. The establishment of the Australian Dance Theatre also coincided with Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War from 1965–75 and influenced the early Indigenous dance companies of the 1970s. Also, through her relationship with the Eleo Pomare Modern Dance company, Dalman's life as a dancer, teacher and choreographer has helped to define Australia's cultural identity and expression in the modern world.