Juliet Burnett is one of Australia's most recognised dancers, making her mark at The Australian Ballet from 2003-2015. She left in 2015 to become a freelance dancer, performing in Australia and Indonesia and collaborating with a variety of dance and cross-disciplinary artists, then in 2016 made the move to Europe to join Ballet Vlaanderen, Belgium's premier ballet company, under the directorship of Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Tamas Moricz.
Juliet grew up in Sydney, Australia, with lots of visits to her Mum's home country, Indonesia, and a vast network of family there. Her parents enrolled her in the local ballet school at age 5 to see if there was latent dancing blood from her grandmother, who was the Sultan’s star dancer at his court in Jogjakarta.
She trained in classical ballet in the Cecchetti method with Valerie Jenkins, and later also with Christine Keith. She was fortunate to receive special coaching and mentorship from the late Valrene Tweedie, the first Australian to dance with the Ballets Russes. Through the Cecchetti Society, Juliet received the Big Brother Movement Scholarship in 1999 to further her study in London at The Royal Ballet School, where Gailene Stock invited her to train. But at such a young age, homesickness got the better of her, so she returned to Australia where had been accepted into The Australian Ballet School under the direction of Marilyn Rowe. She trained there from 2000-2002, during which time she performed in Paris as a select group of students at the Danses de Mai Festival, as well as in two tours of The Dancers Company, the regional touring arm of The Australian Ballet, and received numerous awards including the Friends of The Australian Ballet Scholarship, the Elizabeth McDonald Memorial Scholarship, the Caltex Best All-Rounder Award and the George Garrat Award for Academic Excellence in VCE. In her graduation year she was selected to have two works created on her: a neo-classical pas de deux with The Australian Ballet's Kevin Jackson choreographed by Mark Annear, and the role of Clara in Leigh Rowles' production of Nutcracker.
Juliet was offered a contract with The Australian Ballet upon graduation, and began her career there in 2003. In her first year she was chosen by Balanchine repetiteur Vicki Simon to dance the Theme One pas de deux in The Four Temperaments, then in her second year was Guest Artist on The Dancers Company 2004 tour, reprising the role of Clara in Leigh Rowles' Nutcracker. Also whilst in the early years of the Corps de Ballet, Juliet danced the Earth Fairy in Stanton Welch's The Sleeping Beauty, and the ballerina role of the Prelude and Pas de Deux in Mikhail Fokine's iconic Les Sylphides. Promoted to Coryphee in 2007, she was plucked from this rank to create the title role in Canadian choreographer Matjash Mrozewski's Semele, after which she was promoted to Soloist, in 2009, and then following her critically acclaimed performance as Sophie in Graeme Murphy's The Silver Rose, she was promoted to Senior Artist for the 2011 season. Juliet's repertoire continued to expand, with highlights including Odette in Graeme Murphy's Swan Lake, the title role in Maina Gielgud's production of Giselle, her namesake role, Juliet, in Graeme Murphy's Romeo and Juliet, the title role in Auguste Bournonville's La Sylphide, Polyhymnia in Balanchine's Apollo, 2nd movement pas de deux in Kenneth MacMillan's Concerto, Sugar Plum Fairy in Peter Wright's Nutcracker grand pas de deux, Valse in Mikhail Fokine's Les Sylphides, Flute Variation in Serge Lifar's Suite en Blanc, Queen of the Dryads and Lead Bridesmaid in Rudolf Nureyev's Don Quixote, Theme Three in George Balanchine's The Four Temperaments, Princess Tsarevna in Graeme Murphy's Firebird, 3rd Solo Shade in Stanton Welch's La Bayadere, 2nd Variation and Pas de Trois in Marius Petipa's Paquita, Duchess (Act 1 Pas de Trois) in Stephen Baynes' Swan Lake, Prayer in Peggy van Praagh's Coppelia, as well as leading roles in Wayne McGregor's Chroma and Dyad 1929, Jiri Kylian's Petite Mort, Nacho Duato's Por Vos Muero, Nicolo Fonte's The Possibility Space, Christopher Wheeldon's After the Rain, and principal roles in Stephen Baynes' Beyond Bach, Molto Vivace, Requiem and At the Edge of Night. Juliet has had many treasured experiences, including working with Stephen Page on Warumuk: In the Dark Night, a collaboration with Bangarra Dance Theatre (Australia's indigenous dance company), legendary choreographer Glen Tetley on Voluntaries, Ballets Russes ballerinas Irina Baronova, Anna Volkova and Valrene Tweedie on Les Sylphides, Maina Gielgud in crafting the role of Giselle, and Graeme Murphy and Janet Vernon on the roles of Odette, Juliet and Sophie. Juliet has also danced in works by Jerome Robbins, Alexei Ratmansky, John Cranko, Leonide Massine, Frederick Ashton, Krysztof Pastor and Harold Lander.
She was named 'Dancer to Watch' in Dance Australia's annual Critics' Survey in 2008, 2011 and 2012, and was nominated for the Telstra Ballet Dancer Award in 2009. In 2010 Juliet was awarded the Khitercs Travelling Scholarship, which she used to broaden her development at The Royal Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Dutch National Ballet and Ballet Vlaanderen (then known as The Royal Ballet of Flanders). She also utilised the opportunity to further her understanding of her mother's culture, spending time in Indonesia learning her grandmother's art of Javanese classical dance with renowned master teacher Bu Rusini, and taking tuition with famed actor Adi Kurdi in the acting and theatre techniques pioneered by Juliet's uncle, seminal poet, playwright, actor and activist W.S. Rendra.
In mid-2015 Juliet left The Australian Ballet after her final show as Giselle, with her husband, family, friends and teachers watching at the Sydney Opera House - the stage where her dancing dreams began as a starry-eyed young student.
In 2015 Juliet left The Australian Ballet to become a freelance Guest Artist, in the 1st Indonesian Ballet Gala in Jakarta dancing the Giselle pas de deux; Ballet Stars Under the Stars Gala in Melbourne and Falls Creek, dancing Tim Podesta's Alta Stare and Simon Hoy's Infinite Spaces; the Arts Club Winter Gala at the Arts Centre Melbourne, dancing the Swan Lake Act 2 Pas de Deux with Daniel Gaudiello; and in West Australian Ballet's Jakarta Tour, which she initiated, dancing Christopher Hill's Echoes of a Possible Future and Melanie Lane's Megatruh. For the latter work Juliet created the concept with Melanie, drawing on their shared Indonesian culture and inspired by the writing of Juliet's late uncle W.S. Rendra, Indonesia's foremost poet, playwright and activist. Megatruh marked the second time Juliet collaborated with her husband, composer and music producer Nicholas Robert Thayer; their first collaboration was in June 2016, along with designer Gabrielle Adamidis, a dance based video work titled Letting Blood, presented at MONA by the Dark MOFO festival with assistance from the Australia Council for the Arts.
Juliet is also a writer, having been a regular contributor for Dance Tabs website and The Australian Ballet's blog Behind Ballet, and now for her own blog, Dancing in a Turning World. She has written for other publications since, including Dance International and Gourmet Traveller magazines.
Juliet has been an Ambassador for Bloch dancewear, Youth Ambassador for NSW Friends of The Australian Ballet, Official Ambassador for charity CARE Australia's Walk In Her Shoes Challenge, Ambassador for The Future climate justice initiative, and was an active member of the Greening The Australian Ballet committee.
She was featured in Vintage Girls, a book by Nadia Barbaro, and has modelled for Australian swimwear and activewear label We Are Handsome at Australian Fashion Week 2015, as well as for various publications and websites including Harper's Bazaar, Women's Fitness, Vogue and Net-a-Porter.
Juliet has also been a guest ballet teacher around Australia and in Indonesia, for everyone from children to elite-level students to professional dancers to adult beginners. In 2015, Juliet fulfilled a lifelong dream to bring the magic of ballet to the underprivileged in Indonesia, realised through the Ballet Goes to Ciliwung workshop with the assistance of Ballet.Id Foundation and the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, and she returned there in 2016. Her hope is to continue to promote the accessibility of ballet to all Indonesians, regardless of socioeconomic background, and to continue strengthening the relationship between Indonesia and Australia through the universal art form of dance.
W.S. Rendra once told her that the role of an artist is to be a voice for the people. She looks forward to finding more possibilities each day to fulfil this aspiration.