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The Dancer

592 pages
Paperback with flaps, 21 x 14.8 cm
Published October 2021
ISBN 9781925818727

The Dancer

A Biography for Philippa CullenEvelyn Juers

Prize-winning biographer Evelyn Juers, author of House of Exile and The Recluse, portrays the life and background of a pioneering Australian dancer, who died in tragic circumstances at the age of twenty-five.

A uniquely talented dancer and choreographer, Philippa Cullen grew up in Australia in the 1950s and 60s. In the 1970s, driven by the idea of dancing her own music, she was at the forefront of the new electronic music movement, working internationally with performers, avant-garde composers, engineers and mathematicians to build and experiment with theremins and movement-sensitive floors, which she called body-instruments. She had a strong sense of purpose, read widely, travelled the world, and danced at opera houses, art galleries and festivals, on streets and bridges, trains, clifftops, rooftops. She wrote, I would define dance as an outer manifestation of inner energy in an articulation more lucid than language. An embodiment of the artistic aspirations of her age, she died alone in a remote hill town in southern India in 1975.

With detailed reference to Cullen’s personal papers and the recollections of those who knew her, and with her characteristic flair for drawing connections to bring in larger perspectives, Evelyn Juers’ The Dancer is at once an intimate and wide-ranging biography, a portrait of the artist as a young woman.

Both a labour of love and a richly researched cultural history. I had no interest in dance and no knowledge of Cullen before opening The Dancer; Juers’s work obliged me to open my mind.

Geordie Williamson, Australian Book Review (Books of the Year, 2021)

A sensitive and profoundly moving account of the young artist’s life – her discoveries and joys, her devotion to her work and her vision of dance as an ‘integrative art’.

Naomi Riddle, Art Review


Praise for The Dancer from Nicholas Jose, Sam Twyford-Moore, Anna MacDonald, Tom Carment, David Malouf and Helen Garner ›

About the Author

Evelyn Juers

Evelyn Juers’ collective biography House of Exile: The Life and Times of Heinrich Mann and Nelly Kroeger-Mann won the 2009 Prime Minister’s Award for Non Fiction, and has been published in the US, UK, France, Spain and Italy.

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A biography for, not of...And as always with Juers, an evocation of something more than a single life, or period, or place: events, characters, phenomena that might at first seem incidental but belong to a complexity and rich interconnection of things that she is fascinated by and which we, as readers, are seduced into finding equally relevant and illuminating.

David Malouf

Related News

Praise for The Dancer

Praise for The Dancer from Nicholas Jose, Sam Twyford-Moore, Anna MacDonald, Tom Carment, David Malouf and Helen Garner.

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Evelyn Juers: a note on The Dancer

For several years I was working on a book about Europeans who explored Australia. At the same time I was tending a small archive about my friend, the dancer and choreographer Philippa Cullen, who once said that if she died young, I should write about her. She was twenty-five when she died, in 1975

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