From Bangarra to Ballet – Ella Havelka is first Indigenous dancer in Aus Ballet

Ella Havelka. Image by Andy Solo
Ella Havelka. Image by Andy Solo

The Australian Ballet announced today that, for the first time in its fifty year history, an Indigenous dancer will join the ranks of the national ballet company.

Ella Havelka, a descendant of the Wiradjuri people, graduated from The Australian Ballet School in 2007 and toured with the company’s regional arm, The Dancers Company. She joined Bangarra Dance Theatre in 2008 and made her debut in Fire – A Retrospective in 2009.

Artistic Director David McAllister said he was thrilled that Havelka had accepted the offer to join the company.

“We’ve been watching Ella for many years and have witnessed her grow and develop into a beautiful artist” he said.

“In particular, she was sensational in Warumuk – in the dark night, part of our Infinity program, which she also performed in New York on our 50th anniversary tour. We’re very excited that she will become part of The Australian Ballet family, and know that the ballet community will eagerly await her first performances with us,” said McAllister.

Hailed by Bangarra’s Artistic Director Stephen Page as “one of this country’s greatest young talents” Ella’s will be trading her knee pads for pointe shoes as she finishes he final shows with Bangarra in Brisbane this week and commences rehearsals with The Australian Ballet in Sydney this November.

Havelka said the offer was a wonderful opportunity and is keenly awaiting the new challenges  ahead of her at the Australian Ballet

Jake Mangakahia (The Australian Ballet) and Ella Havelka (Bangarra) in Warumuk, Lincoln Centre. Photo by Lisa Tomasetti
Jake Mangakahia (The Australian Ballet) and Ella Havelka (Bangarra) in Warumuk, Lincoln Centre. Photo by Lisa Tomasetti

“I feel very humbled and excited to be given this opportunity to return to the Ballet world with fresh eyes and new inspirations through my experiences since graduating from the Australian Ballet School”, said Havelka.

“Although I’m sad to be leaving Bangarra, a community I will always call family, I find comfort in knowing I will always carry their spirit with me on my journey and development as an artist. I can only hope to inspire others within the Indigenous community to pursue their own dreams and passions,” she said.

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Erin James is AussieTheatre.com's Editor in Chief and a performer on both stage and screen. Credits include My Fair Lady, South Pacific and The King and I (Opera Australia), Love Never Dies and Cats (Really Useful Group), Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents), A Place To Call Home (Foxtel/Channel 7) and the feature film The Little Death (written and directed by Josh Lawson).

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