Dance icon Margaret Scott remembered

Family, friends and politicians have paid tribute to Australian dance pioneer Dame Margaret Scott.
Family, friends and politicians have paid tribute to Australian dance pioneer Dame Margaret Scott.

Former ballerina and leading administrator Dame Margaret Scott has been remembered as a wonderful woman and pioneer of Australian dancing at a state memorial in Melbourne.

Dame Margaret, a central figure in the founding of the Australian Ballet company in 1962 and the Australian Ballet School in 1964, died at age 96 on February 24.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews led tributes at the National Gallery of Victoria service on Friday.

"All of us here today are richer, we as a community as a civil society are better for the contribution of Dame Margaret Scott," Mr Andrews said.

"We thank all of those who loved her for sharing her brilliance with us all."

Maggie, as she preferred to be called, was born in South Africa in 1922 and danced across her homeland, the United Kingdom and Australia.

The ballerina returned to Australia in 1953 after marrying medical researcher Derek 'Dick' Denton, whom she met while touring with a British dance company in Melbourne in 1947.

As the founding director of the ballet school, Dame Margaret taught hundreds of dancers and choreographers including former Sydney Dance Company artistic director Graeme Murphy.

"Her graduates now direct the company and the school she founded as well as being in almost every ballet company in the world," eldest son Matthew said.

"Australia now has an unparalleled reputation in dance worldwide. This is Maggie's living legacy."

Dame Margaret was awarded a Companion in the Order of Australia in 2005 for her contribution to the arts.

She is survived by husband Derek and their two sons, Matthew and Angus.

Australian Associated Press