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Charles Maurice Lisner (1928–1988)

by Hilary Trotter

Another link with the history of Australian dance has vanished with the passing of Charles Lisner, who died in Brisbane on June 16 after a long battle with spinal cancer. His devotion to ballet and his contribution to its development in Australia will not soon be forgotten.

Charles Lisner was born in Paris in 1928 and came to Australia with his family at the age of nine. He became a pupil of Borovansky, and later joined his company, interrupting his Australian career in 1947 to study at Sadler's Wells Ballet School, dance with the Royal Ballet, and appear in the film The Red Shoes.

He and his wife, Valerie, built the Academy Theatre in Brisbane and founded the Lisner Ballet in 1959. In 1962 this company became the Queensland Ballet Company, the first professional state company in dance, opera or theatre to be established in this country. Charles Lisner was its first artistic director, and had recounted the story of its foundation (accomplished through personal toil and sacrifice) in his book My Journey Through Dance, published in 1979.

He choreographed many ballets for the company, and in 1972 made Images Classiques for the Australian Ballet, which was performed during the Canberra season. Also in 1972 he was awarded a Churchill Fellowship which gave him the opportunity to visit dance companies in Europe and the US.

He retired from the Queensland Ballet directorship in 1974 and was awarded the OBE in 1976 for his services to ballet. His second book The Australian Ballet — Twenty-one Years was published in 1983. The AADE national office helped him complete the appendices for his final book, The Complete Guide for Australian Dancers, issued not long before his death.

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Citation details

Hilary Trotter, 'Lisner, Charles Maurice (1928–1988)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 20 April 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


12 March, 1928
Paris, France


16 June, 1988 (aged 60)
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Cause of Death

cancer (spinal)

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