Guide to the Records of the Meryl Tankard Company


MS 9264

National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Collection Summary

Meryl Tankard Company
Records of the Meryl Tankard Company
Date Range
Collection Number
MS 9264
1.96 metres (14 boxes, folio items)
Language of Materials
National Library of Australia


Scope and Contents

The collection largely consists of production files created by the Canberra-based Meryl Tankard Company, 1989-92, though some material draws on Meryl Tankard's previous work. Overall, the papers are arranged chronologically within financial year divisions, much in the order that they were received as working files. This order merely reflects the operation of the Company and annual reporting to its management board.

The media releases, programs, production agreements, budgets and schedules, operational correspondence, cast notes, handbills, cuttings and other material held in this collection are generally associated with individual productions staged by the Company, or its participation in events, festivals and tours in Australia and overseas.

Conditions Governing Access

Please refer to the collection's catalogue record for the access conditions (

Conditions Governing Use

Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions. For such material, written permission to publish must be obtained from the copyright holder(s). Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.

Preferred Citation

Items from this collection should be cited as '[Title or description of manuscript item], Records of the Meryl Tankard Company, National Library of Australia, MS 9264, [box number and series and/or file number]'.


The records were donated to the National Library by Meryl Tankard in 1993.

Administrative History

Meryl Tankard is one of the most innovative and adventurous graduates of the Australian Ballet School. In the late 1970's she joined the Pina Bausch Tanztheater in Germany, returning to Australia in 1982 as one of its leading dance/mime performers. Before going to Europe she choreographed Birds Behind Bars for the 1977 Dance Horizons program, and studied mime at the Leroq School in Paris. Tankard then toured with the controversial Lindsay Kemp company in his production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. After touring the United States with Pina Bausch, she gathered around her a group of actors and dancers in 1984, choreographing her ballet Echo Point, which was made possible by an Australia Council Grant. She was one of the lead dancers/actors in the television version of A Pack of Women, and in 1987 her dance/acting work Travelling Light was part of the 1987 Spoleto Festival.

Meryl Tankard took over the role of artistic director of the Human Veins Dance Theatre in 1989. Between 1989 and 1992 the renamed Meryl Tankard Company created a range of works that reflected Tankard's highly individualistic style, once described as a cross-art form 'never merely a vehicle for the display of movement.'

The Company's repertoire: VX18504, Two Feet, Banshee, Echo Point, Nuti, Kikimora, Court of Flora, Circo, Chants de Mariage and others, were performed locally and around Australia. The Meryl Tankard Company was a regular feature at the Adelaide Festival of Arts, the Melbourne International Festival of the Arts, Canberra's Floriade, and other Australian arts festivals. With the assistance of government granting bodies, tourism and international cooperation societies, the Company made notable appearances at festivals in Japan, Indonesia, China and Italy.

Responding to Tankard's period of 'extraordinary' creativity in Canberra, she and her Company were much feted in the press. Performances were geared towards a variety of audiences at community, educational, charitable and other special interest, and national venues. Tankard herself was the recipient of the 1992 ACT Citizen of the Year Award.

Meryl Tankard left Canberra at the end of 1992 to take on the directorship of the Australian Dance Theatre.


A full house : the Esso guide to the performing arts collections of the National Library of Australia, Canberra, 1991.

Potter, Michelle, A Passion for Dance, Canberra, 1997.

Ruskin, Pamela, Invitation to the Dance, 1989.

Item Descriptions

Series 1. Performance programs

The series covers the period of the Meryl Tankard Company 1989-92. File material comprises correspondence with theatre and festival organisers, insurers, agents, advertisers and others, production budgets, contracts with performers, musicians, and theatre agents, statements of income and expenditure, travel and theatre arrangements, mailing lists and publicity material, photographs, programs and press cuttings.

The contents of the series are arranged chronologically, under the title heading of performances at festivals and dance venues in Canberra and around the country. The level of documentation varies widely. The 1992 material includes work schedules for Company performers. Several bound volumes of press cuttings and media releases for 1992 completes the series.

1989 (File 1-11) - Box 1, 2

1990 (File 12-31) - Box 2, 3, 4, 5

1991 (File 32-42) - Box 5, 6

1992 (File 43-58) - Box 7, 8, 9

Series 2. Overseas tours, 1989-91

Beginning with a tour of Japan sponsored by the Australia-Japan Foundation in August-September 1989, the Meryl Tankard Company completed four tours outside Australia over the next three years. Records of the Japan tour are scanty. Of interest are some Japanese language press cuttings. Tours of Indonesia, centering on the 'Jakarta International Festival of the Performing Arts', Gendung Kesenian August 1990, and immediately following, appearances at the 'Stagione Danza' festival, Rovereto, Italy, and the following year of China, are well documented by comparison. The records include details of travel and booking arrangements, liaison with embassies, sponsoring bodies, travel agents, festival organisers and theatre operators, press cuttings and photographs.

Japan, 1989 (File 1) - Box 9

Indonesia, 1990 (File 2-4) - Box 9

Italy, 1990 (File 5-6) - Box 9

China, 1991 (File 7-11) - Box 10

Series 3. Company administration and publicity

The records of the Meryl Tankard Company held by the Library contain a limited amount of material pertaining to the administration of the Meryl Tankard Company, and the relationship of the Company with the Gorman House Arts Centre. The series includes some minutes and reports of the Gorman House Management Committee, tennants' newsletters, contractual, financial and other corprorate material, but is largely composed of publicity matter.

Included in the series are mission statements, miscellaneous publicity material relating to both the Meryl Tankard Company and Meryl Tankard, correspondence and related items signalling involvement with ACT schools, details of work experience and auditioning arrangements, relationships with other companies, including Jigsaw Theatre Company, miscellaneous correspondence and press cuttings, including material relating to the 1992 ACT Citizen of the Year award, address lists for Meryl Tankard's farewell, and miscellaneous publicity photographs. Completing the series are a number of magazines containing reviews and several publications, and postcards, handbills, posters, a T-shirt and other Company publicity matter.

Gorman House Administration (File 1-3) - Box 10, 11

Meryl Tankard Company, mission statements (File 4) - Box 11

General Company publicity (File 5) - Box 11

Meryl Tankard publicity and curriculum vitae (File 6-7) - Box 11

Student activities and work experience (File 8-9) - Box 11

Auditions (File 10) - Box 12

Relations with other companies and services (File 11-14) - Box 12

Letters of support and miscellaneous correspondence (File 15) - Box 12

Miscellaneous cuttings (File 16) - Box 12

Travelling Light, Melbourne 1987, miscellaneous cuttings (File 17) - Box 12

ACT Citizen of the Year, 1992 (File 18) - Box 13

Meryl Tankard farewell, address lists (File 19) - Box 13

Performers, photographs (File 20) - Box 13

Handbills, leaflets, postcards (File 21) - Box 13

Reviews, miscellaneous cuttings (File 22) - Box 14

Miscellaneous publications (File 23) - Box 14

Meryl Tankard Company t-shirt (File 24) - Box 14

Elephant folios items: Meryl Tankard Company posters (File) - Folio-Box Elephant Folio