Alison’s moment in Dupain’s spotlight

Within the vast collection of Max Dupain’s dance photographs at the State Library of New South Wales is a sub group of nearly 60 separate images of Alison Lee, a strong and determined woman whose career as a dancer, teacher, and choreographer spanned more than 40 years.
Just why Dupain shot so many pictures of Lee remains a mystery as she was not – like so many of his subjects, an alluring foreign star such as the baby ballerinas of the Ballets Russes tours of Australia, or another beautiful Ballets Russes’ star, Sono Osato, but rather a girl from Perth, Western Australia who had a very lucky break at the outset of the second world war.
In 1940, she posed in Dupain’s Sydney studio and on the roof of the studio building in various ballet costumes, including a black tutu and in flimsy harem pants and a sequined top. At the time, Lee was a corps de ballet member of Col. De Basil’s third troupe to tour Australia, the Original Ballet Russe.

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Alison Lee, photograph Max Dupain, ca 1940, courtesy Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW