Meryl Tankard


Meryl’s global career as a choreographer has seen her individualistic and indelible works staged in Europe, the Americas, Asia and her homeland, Australia.

Her choreographic work ranges widely from The Oracle (2009), Meryl’s interpretation of The Rite of Spring for Sydney Opera House/Malthouse Theatre which toured internationally, winning Australian Dance Awards (Outstanding Choreography; Outstanding Male Dancer); Cinderella, commissioned by the Leipzig Ballet (2011), which received rave reviews and full houses; Andrew Lloyd Webber’s West End musical, The Beautiful Game, (2000) which was nominated for an Olivier Award; and Disney’s Broadway production of Tarzan (2006). She also created the opening section Deep Sea Dreaming for the Sydney Olympic Games Ceremony (2000). In 2003 Meryl created the full-length ballet Wild Swans for The Australian Ballet, with a new score by Elena Kats-Chernin.

A trained classical dancer, Meryl joined the Australian Ballet Company in 1975. Her first choreography, Birds Behind Bars (1977) took her to Europe, where she joined the ground-breaking Wuppertaler Tanztheatre of Pina Bausch where she stayed for 6 years, enjoying a distinguished career as one of Bausch’s leading solo performers. On her return to Australia, Meryl founded her own dance company, synthesising a range of influences and styles to create her own unique dance theatre style. Her focus on dynamic movement, strong emotional content, innovative design and staging, were encapsulated in her signature pieces Two Feet, Echo Point and Travelling Light. Collaborating with photographer Regis Lansac, Meryl developed original techniques using photographic and video projections, also designing her own sets and costumes. Meryl’s company toured Japan, Italy, Indonesia and China with productions such as: VX18504, Nuti, Kikimora, Banshee, Court of Flora, Chants de Mariage I & II.

Meryl spent six years as Artistic Director of Adelaide-based Australian Dance Theatre (1993-99), which she turned into an international touring company with an illustrious list of productions: Furioso, Aurora, O Let Me Weep, Seulle, Rasa, Inuk and Possessed. Under her direction ADT appeared at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York (the first Australian company to be invited), Het Musik Theater in Amsterdam, Sadler’s Wells in London, Aoyama Theater in Tokyo and Aarhus Music Theatre in Denmark.

Following ADT, Meryl was commissioned by some of the world’s most dynamic companies: Bolero (1999) Lyon Opera Ballet; Merryland (2001) for Netherlands Dance Theatre 3; @ North (2004) for Berlin Ballet Komische Oper and Petrouchka (2004) for Netherlands Dance Theatre 1.

Meryl has most recently written and directed the ABC commissioned Michelle’s Story, which won ‘Most Popular Short’ at the 2015 Adelaide Film Festival. Meryl has a graduate Diploma in Film Directing from AFTRS (2010) where she made two short films Moth and Mad.

Meryl continues to innovate and pioneer across a diverse range of projects, from Chinese opera to feature film. Meryl has featured in and her choreography has been the subject of a number of television programs, most prominently, The Black Swan, a documentary directed by Michelle Mahrer and produced by Don Featherstone, which won Best of Show at the Dance on Camera Festival in New York.