Phyllis Danaher MBE, FRAD
(B. 1908 – D. 1991)
Attended St Margaret’s 1923-1925
(Photo courtesy of Ballet Theatre Queensland)
Phyllis Danaher was one of Queensland’s most influential ballet teachers and choreographers, playing a significant role in helping talented students realise their potential. The founder of Ballet Theatre Queensland, Phyllis’ legacy lives on in what is arguably Queensland’s, if not Australia’s, leading youth ballet company,
Commencing her dance training in the early 1920s whilst still attending St Margaret’s, Phyllis later performed with the Pavlova company and in J.C. Williamson’s musicals before establishing the Phyllis Danaher School of Ballet. She gained her elementary certificate in the first Royal Academy of Dancing (RAD) examinations held in Australia and two years later was awarded the RAD advanced teacher’s certificate.
In 1937, Phyllis became the first deputy organiser for Queensland of the advisory committee to the RAD. She was an RAD examiner for some 25 years before retiring from the role in 1982. In 1983 she received a Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Dance in recognition of her long and outstanding service to the RAD and to the art of ballet.
Phyllis also established the Queensland branch of the Australasian Society of Operatic Dancing (later the Queensland Ballet Society) and, under her astute leadership as President, the group founded what would later become Ballet Theatre Queensland (BTQ). She choregraphed several original works for BTQ and continued to produce and direct ballets (and even design costumes) for the company up until the early 1980s. She also produced a work for the North Queensland Ballet’s opening season in 1970.
She was awarded a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1969, becoming the first Queenslander to receive such an honour for services to dance.
Phyllis taught ballet at St Margaret’s between 1964 and 1985.