Lisa Pavane studied with Tessa Maunder in Newcastle, New South Wales, and then at the Australian Ballet School before joining the Australian Ballet in 1981. She was promoted to soloist in 1983 and principal in 1986. From her first year with the Australian Ballet she was sought out by Australian choreographers. She created the role of My Fawny in Robert Ray's Poems in 1981, a principal role in Ray's City Dances in 1982, the role of an Apparition in Graeme Murphy's Gallery in 1987 and principal roles in Stephen Baynes' Ballade in 1988 and Catalyst in 1990. To much acclaim she danced leading roles in all the major works in the Australian Ballet's repertoire. She also appeared as a guest artist with Boston Ballet, the Kirov Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, at the Sixth and Seventh World Ballet Festivals in Japan and in Budapest with the Munich Staats Opera Ballet.
In July 1994 Pavane, with then husband Greg Horsman, left the Australian Ballet wanting to expand her horizons and feeling unhappy with the way the company was being run under the then artistic director, Maina Gielgud. Pavane and Horsman were appointed senior principals with English National Ballet in September 1994. In London Pavane continued to carve out a strong career as a classical dancer. A notable highlight of her career with the English National Ballet was her casting as Odette/Odile in Derek Deane's arena production of Swan Lake which toured to Australia.
Pavane returned to Australia in 2001, and was appointed to the teaching staff of the Australian Ballet School in 2007.