Born in Townsville in 1923
Ann lived in Kenilworth Ave with her parents and three brothers. Her father was prominent solicitor George Roberts, and mother Mary.
Ann started dancing at 6 years old.
A teacher moved from Sydney to Townsville and opened a dance school, Miss Roberts began training but the teacher returned south.
1935 Townsville Daily Bulletin Saturday 22 June
Gwenda Norris’ Pupils Recital
“Flirtation’ was the title of a toe dance in which little Pat Corbett, Ann Roberts and Joan Jackson did very nice work.”
1936 Townsville Daily Bulletin Saturday 20 June
“Follies on Parade”
Gwenda Norris School of Dancing
“A Woodland Fantasy” was a similar effort of a high standard. Miss Bessie Harvey and Mr Sid Patterson introduced it with “Glow Worm”, the senior ballet gave a very fine effort, “Fireflys”, and Ann Roberts capped it with a very clever solo dance “The Moth and the Flame”.
1937 Townsville Daily Bulletin Saturday 19 June
“Follies on Parade”
Gwenda Norris School of Dancing
Daphne Clark and Ann Roberts completed a beautiful offering with a dance “The Star and the Rose”
1938 Townsville Daily Bulletin Saturday 25 June
Gwenda Norris School of Dancing
…concluding with a brilliant toe solo by Miss Ann Roberts.
1941 Townsville Daily Bulletin Saturday 15 Feb
Miss Ann Roberts will conduct children’s classes at her studio at Sturt Street, City, at 10am today.
1941 Townsville Daily Bulletin Friday 28 Feb
The Gwen Hardie School of Dancing advises, by advertisement in this issue, of the re-opening of classes tomorrow.
Miss Ann Roberts advertises in this issue particulars of her children’s dancing classes at her Sturt Street studio tomorrow morning.
1941 Townsville Daily Bulletin Friday 20 June
“Follies and Fashions”
Thurs 19 June afternoon and evening
A dancer who is new to Townsville audiences made her first appearance at this entertainment – Ann Roberts. This gifted performer gave a very pleasing show of three numbers, and earned well-merited applause for her grace of movement. Her first solo was with the Tyrolean girls. Later, another affective number was with an Eastern scena, which was introduced by the song, ‘Pale Hands.’ sung by Norma Kydd, Dorothy Harris, and Connie Horn. This was followed by a pretty exhibition of cymbal drill by the Gwenda Norris girls, and the finale was danced by Ann Roberts, assisted by Maureen Reynolds and Rona Lynagh. Finally, in a classic ensemble Ann Roberts gave a pasdeseu. a toe dance in the ballet tradition, the Gwenda Norris girls made an effective background, with their graceful ballerina item, to the strains of the famous ‘Nalla’ waltz. The song, ‘Lover Come Back to Me.’ sung by Norms Kydd and Syd. Patterson, accompanied this item.
1941 Townsville Daily Bulletin Saturday 18 Oct
Gwen Hardie and Ann Roberts announce that they have combined their dancing classes and specialise in all types of dancing. Further particulars are advertised.
Thurs 18 Dec
“A Christmas Fantasy”
Gwen Hardie School of Dancing – principles Gwen Hardie and Ann Roberts
Majority of dance training was done in Sydney with Francis Scully, Gertrude Bodenweiser, and Kathleen Daintree, first as a teenager at boarding school, and later as a young adult after the war. Ballroom teachers also taught at the school and Ann obtained her ballroom medals.
1941 after pearl harbour was bombed by the Japanese she joined the WAAAF air force as a wireless telegraph operator and trained in Melbourne, and served out the war in the old Commonwealth building in Sturt St, Townsville.
1945 At 23 after war service she was “too old” so, on advise from Francis Scully and Kathleen Daintree, her teachers at the time, she was encouraged to take up teaching. Ann trained for 18 months in Sydney and passed the three RAD major exams, Elementary, Intermediate, and Advanced in one session as the examiners only came out from England once every two years.
Ann began teaching with Gwen Hardie and we were partners for 10 years.
1946 Townsville Daily Bulletin Wednesday 21 Aug
Concert arranged by the University Women’s College Building Fund
The second portion of the programme was provided by the Gwen Hardie School of
Dancing, and the performance right up from the ever popular items by the little
‘Dutchies’ through to the finished solos by Misses Fern Brown and Ann Roberts
showed to an appreciative audience that the art of dancing is being capably fostered
1946 Townsville Daily Bulletin Thurs 31 Oct
Royal Academy of Dancing
The following candidates were successful in the Royal Academy of Dancing examinations held in Townsville recently: –
Elementary, Ann Roberts, Fern Brown, Gloria Young, Gloria Boyce, Shirley Midock, Anne Hardie.
Higher Division: Honours Gloria Boyce. 88.
Grade IV.: Honours- Audrey Nicholls. 90. Pass, D’Esley O’Shea 84. Betty Leverette 82.
Grade III. Honours. Sibyl Tarling 89 D’Esley O’Shea 88. Beryl Christopher. Pass. Merle Harris 81, Judith Gillies 73.
Grade II.: Honours, Shirley McElhinney 87, Sibyl Tarling 86, Beryl Chribtopher 86, Dawn Hodson 85. Pass. Merle Harris 83, Margaret Thomson 83. Jean Angus 80. Graham Carvolth 79. Bessie Smith 76. Patricia Bischop.
Grade I.: Honours. Meryl Short 87, Joan Rogers 86, Lorraine Du Guesclin 80. Pass, Sally Hopkins 83. Janice Stuttard 80. Maureen Casey 79, Vonda Bell 77. Alison McVean 76. Noelene Green 76, Deane Du Guesclin 74 Patricia Bischop 73, Beverley Green 69, June Mulreany 69. Shirley Boyd 69
Primary: Honours. Elizabeth Ford 48. Audrey Davies 47. Gabriel Vandeleur 46. Janice Dennis 44. Lorraine Marshall 43. Lynette Mindham 43 Lynette Campbell 43. Carol Southwood 42. Mary Lyons 41. Mary Blakoe 41 Joyce Munro 40. Jillian Emery 40 Pass. Deane Keller 39. Margaret Mortenson 39. Kev Cafferky 36, Henrietta Chapman 36.
1947 Townsville Daily Bulletin Friday 25 April
St George’s Debutante Ball
During the evening an excellent exhibition of ballroom dancing was given by Miss Ann Roberts and Mr Hall and was much appreciated by the large audience.
1947 Townsville Daily Bulletin Thursday 28 Aug
Grammar School Old Boys Association Annual Ball
During the evening Miss Ann Roberts and Mr Reg Hall gave an exhibition of ballroom dancing which was a most attractive item and very much appreciated.
1956 Ann sat for the advanced teachers exams, which she passed
1957 She bought out Miss Hardie, established the Ann Roberts School of Dancing and was appointed Children’s Examiner for the RAD
In the following years she married Townsville barrister Rex Pirani and had two daughters, Jane now artistic director of Dance North and nationally renowned choreographer, and Louise, a teacher.
Rex encouraged Ann to build her own studio, which she did and it opened it 1964 and named Pirani Hall.
1964 Ann’s husband passed away, unfortunately before the new studio was completed.
1969 one of the founders of amateur company North Queensland Ballet Company and was its Artistic Director
1974 Miss Roberts traved to England to become a major examiner for the RAD and one of Australia’s first dual examiners. These qualifications took her all over the world examining dancers in Mexico, Spain, England, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, South Africa, Philippines, and New Guinea.
1977 Queen’s Jubilee Medal
Early 1980’s North Queensland Ballet Company became a pro-am company
1985 North Queensland Ballet Company became Dance North
1985 January, Ann received the Order of Australia Medal for services to the Arts
1987 The formation of Extensions, Dance North’s amateur youth company.
Friday 2nd March 1990
The Townsville City Council Reception Room, Administration Building, Walker St at 12 noon. At a short lunchtime ceremony in Townsville Ann Roberts A.M. received the Royal Academy of Dancing’s highest honour, that of being made a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Dancing. Ann is only the third Australian to receive this award.
The award was presented by Ms Priscilla Yates, Director of the Royal Academy, who flew from London especially for the occasion.
Miss Roberts trained in Townsville as a young woman and had made plans tp pursue a career in dance.
Unfortunately, World War II put a hold on her aspirations to claim glory on stage, and she decided to take the backstage role of teacher.
Teaching dance has taken Miss Roberts throughout the world including US, Europe, and many Asian countries as well as all States of Australia.
Since she began teaching in 1947 the number of candidates for ballet exams has increased 1000%.
1990 28 Oct awarded the inaugural TCC arts Culture and Entertainment open Award for Dance.
1991 awarded TCC Australia Day Citizen of the Year Award.
1994 retired as RAD examiner.
1997 Ann received the National Dance award in Sydney, as part of the International Dance Week, the first Queenslander to receive the award.
1947 Founder and Lifetime member of the Townsville Juvenile Eisteddfod.
Founding member of the ABC concerts
Founding member of the Townsville Arts Council.
Ann passed away 3rd March 2002
2009 22nd Sept posthumously awarded the prestigious Queensland University of Technology’s Queensland’s Great Dance Teacher Achievement Award.