Terri Charlesworth receives 2016 Australian Dance Award for Lifetime Achievement

Terri Charlesworth’s initiative, dedication, generosity and passion have greatly influenced generations of Western Australian dancers. As well as being a dazzling performer, Terri has had outstanding success as a teacher and leader in dance education and training. 

Born in Perth, she began her early ballet training in Melbourne with acclaimed dancers such as Kira and Serge Bousloff and Xenia Borovansky. She joined West Australian Ballet for its inaugural 1953 season and was later appointed Assistant Artistic Director.

Terri Charlesworth teaching balletPhoto: Darren Clark

Terri was chosen to represent Australia at the 1957 International Arts Competition in Moscow, where her performance of The Brolga (choreographed for Terri by Kira Bousloff) won her the Ulanova Laureate prize. While in Russia she studied the training methods of the Bolshoi Ballet School, then toured China before continuing training in London. 

On her return to Australia, and still dancing with WAB, Terri established the Terri Charlesworth Ballet School in Perth (1960) which is thriving today as the Terri Charlesworth Institute. After touring and studying in Russia (1977), Terri introduced the Russian method to The Australian Ballet School when she was appointed classical ballet teacher in 1982. 

In 1970 Terri began teaching for the Department of Education and Training and co-founded, and then directed, the Graduate College of Dance, the first three-year tertiary dance course in Western Australia. 

She founded Western Australia’s first professional contemporary dance company Kinetikos in 1978. Then in 1990 she established the Dance Performance Course for the Graduate College of Dance at Swanbourne High School and wrote the syllabus for Year 11 & 12 registered ballet subjects for the Curriculum Council of Western Australia. In 2004 Terri was the founding Artistic Director of Youth Ballet WA.

Terri was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for her contribution to dance in Australia in 1994 and in 2006 was Western Australian Citizen of the Year for Arts and Culture.

Terri’s distinguished contribution to ballet in Australia makes her a worthy recipient of the Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2016.

Acknowledgement: Trove