• Entry type: Person
  • Entry ID: IMP0055

Van Praagh, Margaret

(1910 – 1990)
  • Born 1 September, 1910, Hampstead London England
  • Died 15 January, 1990, Camberwell Victoria Australia
  • Occupation Dancer, Director, Educator, Producer, Writer


Born in London, Dame Peggy van Praagh had a long and distinguished career in ballet as a dancer, teacher, producer, advocate and director. She came to Australia in 1959 to direct the Borovansky Ballet, and was instrumental in establishing the Australian Ballet in 1962. She was artistic director of the Australian Ballet from 1962-1974 and again in 1978. Dame Peggy received much recognition for her services to ballet, including her appointment to the Order of the British Empire (OBE, 1966) and as Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE, 14 June 1970).


Peggy van Praagh was educated at King Alfred School, London. She studied dance in London, and danced with Ballet Rambert and Sadler’s Wells from 1933-1945 before moving into teaching at Sadler’s Wells Dance Theatre, 1945-1956. She then undertook freelance teaching and producing in Germany, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Holland and USA 1956-1960.

Van Praagh became artistic director of the Borovansky Ballet in Australia in 1960. She became a Fellow of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (London), 1933, and a member of the Royal Academy of Dancing, 1969; received an Hon D Litt (University of New England), 1974; DBE 1970; OBE 1965; Queen Elizabeth Coronation Prize; Special Artist’s Award, Australia Council, 1975; Britannica Australia Award for Arts 1970; and was made an honorary life member of the Australian Ballet Foundation, 1979.



  • 2012 - 2012

    Inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women

Published resources

  • Resource
  • Edited Book
    • Who's Who of Australian Women, Lofthouse, Andrea, 1982
  • Book
    • Peggy van Praagh - a life of dance, Sexton, Christopher, 1985
    • How I became a ballet dancer, Van Praagh, Margaret, 1954
    • The choreographic art; an outline of its principles and craft, Van Praagh, Margaret and Brinson, Peter, 1963
    • The arts in Australia - ballet, Van Praagh, Margaret, 1966
    • Ballet in Australia, Van Praagh, Margaret, 1965
  • Resource Section
  • Book Section
    • Fourth Ausdance Dame Peggy van Praagh Memorial Address, Tankard, Meryl, 1997
  • Journal Article
    • Documenting Australian Dance: The Peggy van Praagh Collection, Potter, M., 2000
  • Site Exhibition

Archival resources

  • National Library of Australia, Manuscript Collection
    • Papers of Dame Peggy van Praagh, 1912-1986 [manuscript]

Related entries

  • Related Concepts
    • Dance