Heather Blasdale Clarke is a dance teacher and historian who has been actively involved in early Australian colonial dance for over three decades. She has been awarded six research scholarships at national and international levels, frequently presents workshops, and regularly publishes articles on her website www.colonialdance.com.au. Research includes dances associated with the discovery of New Holland, particularly in relation to William Dampier and James Cook, and the elite dance culture of the early colony. She is currently undertaking a doctorate to research the intriguing topic of convict dance. By combining a comprehensive understanding of the many dance traditions relevant to early Australian history, she is able to bring a deep insight to this fascinating study.
Most importantly, Heather aims to enrich Australia’s dance heritage through workshops, seminars and the publication of research findings. This website www.colonialdance.com.au is a prime site freely providing readily accessible dance instructions, music and history.
Heather lives in Brisbane with her husband Kit, two dalmatians, a horse, a donkey and two chickens. She has three children and two loving parents.
Clarke, Heather Blasdale (2014) Captain Cook’s Country Dance. Australian Folklore, 29 (November), pp. 71-86.
Clarke, Heather Blasdale (2015) Speed the plough. In Hunter, Cynthia (Ed.) The Convict Adventure at Wallis Plains Maitland. Maitland City Council, Maitland, N.S.W, pp. 110-113.
The main body of her research findings are presented on the website www.colonialdance.com.au This is listed by the National Library of Australia’s Pandora Archived Websites: http://trove.nla.gov.au/result?q=early+colonial+dance
Referenced at the State Library of New South Wales,
with an interview pertaining to the research at
Royal Australian Historical Society eNewsletter ,
Heather is the chairperson and Queensland representative of the Australian Social Dance Network.
Heather is proficient in classical ballet, English country dance, Highland and Scottish country dance, Irish solo and social dance, English/Australia clog dance, and late colonial/old-time dance. She teaches regular classes in Brisbane with special classes provided in other capital cities upon request
Heather has received six research scholarships from the Australian Folk Trust, the Country Dance and Song Society (Boston, Massachusetts) and Dometsch Historical Dance Society.
Performances include dancing at many community events such as regional festivals, school fetes, multicultural events, Highland fairs, small folk festivals and village fairs. More important performances were given in venues such as the Sydney Opera House, National Library of Australia’s World Upside Down Exhibition, Heritage Weeks at the Sydney Town Hall, National Trust properties: Vaucluse House, Hume Cottage, and Lanyon Homestead. Regular performances at the National Folk Festival (1994-present).
Heather danced in the 1992 movie “Over the Hill”, and ABC television dramas “The Boy in the Bush”(D.H. Lawrence), and “Tusitala” (Robert Louis Stevenson).