Ella Havelka is most famously known for being the first Aboriginal Ballet Dancer to join The Australian Ballet company. A descendant of the Wiradjuri people, Ella was born in Dubbo, where she trained at the Dubbo Ballet Studio. Ella’s mother Janna was a strong single mother who gave up her life in Dubbo to move with her to Melbourne when she was accepted in the Australian Ballet School at the age of 15.
After graduating from the school, Ella joined Bangarra Dance Theatre in 2009 and developed a passion for traditional Aboriginal basket weaving. She began selling her woven creations for donations to Oxfam Australia’s Close the Gap campaign which fuelled her desire to find creative ways to allow equal opportunities for Australia’s First Nations people.
The media was swept into a frenzy when Ella joined the Australian Ballet in 2013, and a documentary featuring Ella’s story was premiered at the the Melbourne International Film Festival in 2016. Ella leaped back into the Bangarra world to guest star in their 30th anniversary program in 2019.
Ella identifies herself as an artist of both worlds and struggles to find where she fits in. She dabbles in choreography, digital art, printmaking, weaving and tells her story through public speaking engagements. Her dream is to inspire more First Nations communities to have access to the world of Ballet and to open up pathways for Indigenous kids to pursue their own endeavours.
Ella acknowledges the other Aboriginal Ballet Dancers who came before her as her idols, and her mother, Janna Havelka as her biggest inspiration.