Beth Dean Carell (1918 – 2012)
By Jennifer Shennan
Beth Dean Carell was born in Denver, Colorado, USA in 1918, and died in Sydney in February 2012, aged 94. Twin Journey, her memoirs, shared with husband Victor Carell, tells of Beth's spirited and full life devoted to pursuits in dance as a performer, choreographer, critic, researcher and performer.
Beth’s ballet training included studies with Leo Staats of Paris Opera, and Nicholas Legat in London, and she danced with Rene Blum’s Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. After marriage in 1944 to Victor, an Australian singer, they spent some years in international touring of The Waltz King and Annie Get Your Gun.
Beth and Victor settled in Sydney and developed an interest in the indigenous arts of Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific. In the 1950s they ventured into Central Australia for a year-long study of Aboriginal dance. Their jointly written book, Dust for the Dancers, and an accompanying film, held in the National Archives of Australia, document that pioneering work. Later fieldwork in Papua New Guinea was recounted in their book, Softly Wild Drums.
Beth’s researches into Maori dance, with Dame Te Atairangikahu and Dovey Katene-Horvath, were incorporated into her lecture demonstrations and solo performances on world dance traditions that toured throughout Australia, New Zealand, Europe and America.
Beth and Victor were the artistic directors of the inaugural Pacific Arts Festival in Suva in 1972.
The book South Pacific Art and Dance, published to coincide with that first festival, was co-authored by Beth with Bruce Palmer, ethnologist at the Fiji Museum. The text includes extensive notes to many remarkable photos, with illuminating insights into Pacific dance performance and practice.
Beth and Victor were committed in their belief that such performance should not be modelled solely for the tourist industry, nor be an imitation of European models.
Read the full article (Iss. 28) Beth Dean Obituary