A Unique Laurel Martyn Photo Gallery
ABOUT LAUREL MARTYN OBE – Australian dancer, choreographer and teacher
‘I have danced all my life. The best reason for learning to dance is that you enjoy the sensation of moving and expressing your feelings and ideas through movement.’ Laurel Martyn OBE
At the age of four, Laurel began her dance training. She always considered herself to be a dancer, and has spent her whole long life involved in one or more aspect of this fascinating art form. She still continues her involvement at the age of 92 as advisor and mentor to the activities of our organisation.
Laurel’s early training was in Toowoomba and Brisbane, and she then travelled to London in 1933 where she completed her training with Phyllis Bedells, joined the Vic Wells company on tour and then became a member of the Sadlers Wells – now Royal Ballet. She danced as a full member of the company until 1938 when she returned to Australia.
Her greatest development during this period was through her study with members of the Russian Imperial Ballet who had escaped the Revolution and set up ballet schools in Europe. She found the Russian training and the intelligent and logical approach to technical development to be the guiding principal of her dancing life, namely that dance is total and involves the mind and the whole body, and that therefore the two must be developed simultaneously as each part of the body is recognised, explored, and remembered as a part of the whole.
From 1940 Laurel was a principal dancer in the Borovansky Ballet in Australia, dancing major classical roles and original works choreographed by Borovansky. She also choreographed several works.
In 1946 the Victorian Ballet Guild engaged her to dance and choreograph, and to direct their ballet company and its associated school. For the next thirty years she collaborated with some of Australia’s leading composers and artists, contributing significantly to the development of the arts in Australia. The company later became Ballet Victoria, and hosted such eminent artists as Natalia Markarova, Michael Barishnikoff, and the Panovs.
Teaching and the development of expressive individuals who are able to realise their own unique abilities have always been important to Laurel. Her comprehensive experiences, combined with her enquiring approach to movement and life in general, have led to the development of a unique philosophy on movement and dance teaching, and the belief that this training contains valuable principles that apply to all styles of dance, to sports and to life itself.
Her approach, while still firmly based on the great traditions of the art of dance, has been developed to be in tune with the Australian way of thinking and living. This holistic approach has developed over decades of professional experience, and the Laurel Martyn Dance System continues to be an organic structure which allows for individual development and adaptation in response to emerging knowledge and demands. It is codified in her teaching manuals Let Them Dance & Help Them Dance.