A look at the history of the performing arts at the National Library of Australia’s On Stage exhibition | Canberra time

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I don’t remember the first time I went on stage. It would have been when I was about three years old and I can almost guarantee it was a performance made for Bananas in Pajamas – because that’s what all the “Tiny Tots” dancers did in dance school where I went. But that cute (at best) stage entrance began a 15-year love affair with the stage. And it really was a love story. My mom was supportive, but she was never the stereotypical dance mom pushing me into the spotlight. And while performing was in my blood – passed down from my grandmother who performed professionally – it was never a “must-do”. Every term I had the option to quit – usually around the same time my parents were seeing how much school was going to cost them for another 10 weeks. But the answer was always, “Why don’t I keep dancing?” READ MORE: It was definitely a part of who I was, and something like that doesn’t leave you. There’s always a certain sense of belonging when I’m on or around the stage, whether it’s dance, theatre, comedy or live music. And not to mention, you tend to have a better understanding of what it takes to be on stage and perform in front of a crowd, at all levels. The theater is my happy place. And like many others, I don’t think I fully understood this until it was taken down. And it’s this collective realization that makes this a fitting time for the National Library of Australia’s latest exhibition. On Stage: Spotlight On Our Performing Arts showcases cultural treasures, dynamic characters and defining moments in the history of Australian performing arts from the 1790s to today. It is a poignant reminder of the crucial role the performing arts industry has played in Australian cultural life. “The library’s performing arts collections show how much Australians love live performance,” said Susannah Helman, curator and curator of the library of rare books and music. “As a huge fan of live performances of all kinds, I thought I knew the history of the performing arts in Australia, but our collections opened my eyes to the cultural life Australians of the past might have known.” The library’s performing arts collections are overwhelming in scope and only a selection can be viewed. In the exhibition I tried to represent key moments, productions and performers from our history, to give context to today’s performing arts scene. “Because it’s really a stage, even a spectrum, of the performing arts. And I think people forget about that sometimes. The performing arts aren’t just about ballet recitals and theater productions. Whether it’s AC/DC rocking a crowd of fans or 1950s folk band The Bushwalkers playing at a community event, it’s worked its way into the social fabric more than anyone thought. And perhaps with this new awareness, it’s a good time to see how far Australian performing arts have come.Our journalists work hard to bring local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:


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