INTRODUCTION

Ballet Rambert (BR) is today the oldest existing dance company in England. It was founded in 1930 by Marie Rambert (MR), whose balletic lineage can be traced back to Isadora Duncan, E. Jacques-Dalcroze, S. Diaghilev, V. Nijinsky, Cecchetti and S. Astafieva. It was from these sources that she created an English ballet company with an understated style. This young, small company of thirty dancers under the personal direction of MR arrived in Australia in October 1947 under the entrepreneur D.D. O’Connor in association with the British Council as the first major overseas company to visit Australia after World War II. The Australian public, who had been exposed in the pre-war period to a virtuosic and exuberant Russian style on a large scale, began to appreciate the smaller works presented with such realism. BR introduced a different concept of ballet to Australians -- as art and not spectacle.

Their impact was immediate and significant. Many Australians joined the company on tour, such as Cecil Bates, Ruth Boker, Charles Boyd (a former BR member), Rachel Cameron, June Florenz, Joan and Monica Halliday, Kathleen Lamb, Marita Lowden, Moira Peoples, Ann Somers (or Kathleen Gorham), Basil Truro (or Vassilie Trunoff ) including David Hunt who returned to Australia with BR and they in turn influenced future generations of dancers. Some of the BR dancers remained in Australia and contributed to the development of dance, these being Joyce Graeme, Brenda Hamlyn, Rex Reid and Margaret Scott. When the tour finished some of the Australians went with the company to England to further their careers, Ann Somers being one example.

The tour was organised initially for six months but due to public pressure was extended to fifteen months which made MR send home on two occasions for more ballets to cope with the demand. The repertoire included contemporary and classical works and introduced a new generation of English choreographers such as Antony Tudor, Frederick Ashton, Walter Gore and Andree Howard and Ninette de Valois. One ballet Winter night was created in Australia and had its world premiere in Melbourne giving designer Kenneth Rowell his first major success. The idea for an Australian work based on the mystic beliefs of the Aborigines, Dhoogar was presented to the company but not taken up by them.

Their itinerary included two Australian seasons interrupted by a four month tour of New Zealand. The first season of 28 weeks took in Melbourne, Broken Hill and Sydney. The second season of 18 weeks began in Brisbane then Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth. In that time they gave over 500 performances of 33 ballets, introduced 26 new English creations as well as revived several classics by Coralli & Perrot, M. Fokine, Lev Ivanov, Vaslav Nijinsky and Petipa.

LISTINGS

There are two listings of the BR tour based on the incomplete holdings of programmes, printed ephemera and reviews in the National Library of Australia’s PROMPT Collection. The lists are being updated as material is acquired to fill the gaps.

Chronological

This list reflects the itinerary order of the tour and gives researchers the opportunity to investigate the tour programme by programme as well as the number of performances given per ballet. It identifies additional material like ephemera and reviews. The material is arranged in this order.

Repertoire

This alphabetical list gives details of each ballet ; its primary creators ; where known, identifies in bold the Australian involvement particularly the Australian dancers and the roles they performed during the tour ; and a premiere date. Pask’s Ballet in Australia : the second act, 1940-1980 (Melbourne, 1982) is used as an additional source.

Access

Material from the PROMPT collection is available for use through the Petherick Reading Room, Ground Floor. Readers should complete an electronic call slip for the following catalogue record:

[Ballet Rambert's tour of Australia and New Zealand, 1947-1949 : programs, ephemera / British company directed by Marie Rambert]

The Library is also strong in non-print materials associated with the tour. Pictorial materials are accessed through the Pictorial Reading Room, manuscripts in the Manuscript Reading Room and oral history interviews through the Oral History Reading Room. A search on the Library’s OPAC will find additional books about the company.

CHRONOLOGICAL LISTING

FIRST AUSTRALIAN SEASON, 17th Oct. 1947 - 1st May 1948 [28 week season]

1947-1948

BR the tour of Australia and New Zealand, 1947-1948 / edited by Tatlock Miller ; photographed by Alex Murray ; designed and decorated by Loudon Sainthill. Sydney. {50} p.
· Souvenir tour programme, one copy signed by Marie Rambert

1947, 17 Oct. - 1948. 24th Jan.
Melbourne, 1st season, Princess Theatre
[14 weeks]
 
1947, 17-23 Oct. Programme 1 Giselle
Soiree musicale
Gala performance
Cover design by Daryl Lindsay
· Advertisement for 1st Melbourne season
(Photocopy)
1947, 24-30 Oct. Programme 2 Swan Lake, Act II
Simple symphony
Jardin aux lilas
Facade (Original version)
Cover design by Daryl Lindsay
· Reviews incl.
1947, 31 Oct.-6 Nov. Programme 3 Les sylphides
The fugitive
The sleeping princess. Blue bird pas de deux Peter and the wolf
Autographs of company in one copy
· Reviews incl.
1947, 7-13 Nov. Programme 4 Plaisance
The planets
Les masques
Peter and the wolf
1947, 14-20 Nov. Programme 5 Swan Lake, Act II
Death and the maiden
Mermaid
Gala performance
  • Reviews incl.
  • Supplement to the Argus week-end magazine, 15 Nov. 1947. D.D. O’connor Pty Ltd in association with the British Council present the celebrated Ballet Rambert direct from Mercury and Sadler’s Wells Theatres, London. 1 folded sheet. Reprint.
1947, 21-27 Nov. Programme 6 Les sylphides
L’Apres-midi d’un faune
Simple symphony
Bar aux Folies-Bergere
1947, 28 Nov.-4 Dec. Programme 7 Giselle
Czernyana
· Reviews incl.
1947, 5 –11 Dec. Programme 8 Les sylphides
The sleeping princess. Blue bird pas de deux Jardin aux lilas
Mr. Punch
1947, 12-18 Dec. Programme 9 Swan Lake, Act II
Soiree musicale
Lady into fox
Facade (Original version)
· Reviews incl.
1947, 19-25? Dec. Programme 10 Plaisance
The sleeping princess. Blue bird pas de deux Peter and the wolf
· Reviews incl.
1947, Dec. 26- 1948, 1 Jan. Programme 11 Swan Lake, Act II
Peter and the wolf
Spanish divertissement
Mr. Punch
· Reviews incl.
1948, 2-8 Jan. Programme 12 Capriol suite
Spectre de la rose
The sailor's return
· Reviews incl.
1948, 9-15 Jan. Programme 13 Swan Lake, Act II
Mephisto valse
The planets
Gala performance
Reviews, flyers incl.
1948, 16-20 Jan. Programme 14 Czernyana
Mephisto valse
Death and the maiden
Bar aux Folies-Bergere
· Reviews, flyer incl.
1948, 21-24 Jan. Programme 15
(farewell)
Swan Lake, Act II
Mephisto valse
Lady into fox
Facade (Original version)
· Reviews, flyer
1948, 26 - 28 Jan.
Broken Hill, Crystal Theatre
[3 day season]

No programmes held

1948, 31 Jan. - 1 May
Sydney, 1st season, Tivoli Theatre
[8 week season]
 
1948, 31 Jan.-13 Feb. Programme 1 Swan Lake, Act II
Lady into fox
Soiree musicale
Peter and the wolf
· Advertisement incl.
1948, 14 –27 Feb. Programme 2 Giselle
The sleeping princess. Blue bird pas de deux
Gala performance
1948, 28 Feb.-12 Mar. Programme 3 Les sylphides
Simple symphony
The fugitive
Bar aux Folies-Bergere
1948, 13-26 Mar. Programme 4 The planets
Jardin aux lilas
Facade (Original version)
Casse-Noisette, Act II
1948, 27 Mar.-9 Apr. Programme 5 Swan Lake, Act II
Czernyana
Death and the maiden
Mr. Punch
1948, 10-23 Apr. Programme 6 Casse-Noisette, Act II
The sailor's return
1948, 24 Apr.-1 May. Programme 7
(farewell)
Plaisance
Lady into fox
Spectre de la rose
Bar aux Folies-

NEW ZEALAND SEASON, May - Sept. 1948

Auckland, 7 May - 3 June
St. James Theatre
[4 month season]
 
1948, 7-14 May Programme Les Sylphides
Simple symphony
The fugitive
Peter and the Wolf
1948, 21-27 May Programme Giselle
Soiree musicale
Facade (Original version)
1948, 28 May-3 June Programme Plaisance
Lady into fox
Casse-Noisette, Act II
Bar aux Folies-Bergere

SECOND AUSTRALIAN SEASON, 11th Sept. - 13th Jan. 1949 [18 week season]

1948, 11 Sept. - 1 Oct.
Brisbane, His Majesty's Theatre
[3 week season]
 
1948, 18-24 Sept. Programme 2 Plaisance
Jardin aux lilas Facade (Original version)
Casse-Noisette, Act II
1948, 25 Sept.-1 Oct. Programme 3 Swan Lake, Act II
Lady into fox
Death and the maiden
Gala performance
1948, 4 Oct. - 16 Oct.
Sydney, 2nd season, Tivoli Theatre
[2 week season]
 
1948, 4-10 Oct. Programme 1 Plaisance
Judgment of Paris
Giselle
1948, 11-16 Oct. Programme 2 The planets
Concerto burlesco
Lady into fox
Casse-Noisette, Act II
1948, 20 Oct. - 13 Nov.
Adelaide, Theatre Royal
[3 week season]
 
1948, 20-26 Oct. Programme 1 Les sylphides
Simple symphony
The fugitive
Peter and the wolf
1948, 3-9 Nov. Programme 3 Swan Lake, Act II
Death and the maiden
Lady into fox
Gala performance
1948, 10-13 Nov. Programme 4
(farewell)
Plaisance
Death and the maiden
The descent of Hebe
Casse-Noisette, Act II
1948, 19 Nov. - 20 Dec.
Melbourne, 2nd season, His Majesty's Theatre
[4 week season]
 
1948, 19 Nov.-2 Dec. Programme 1 Descent of Hebe
Carnival of animals
Winter night
Casse-Noisette, Act II
· Advertisement
1948, 3-9 Dec. Programme 2 Swan Lake, Act II
Concerto burlesco
Dark elegies
Bar aux Folies-Bergere
1948, 10-20 Dec. Programme 3 Plaisance
Judgment of Paris
The sailor's return
1948, 27 Dec. - 1949, 13 Jan.
Perth, Capitol Theatre

[2 ½ week season]

No programmes held

REPERTOIRE : ALPHABETICAL LISTING

[A] , [B], [C], [D], [F], [G], [J], [L], [M], [N], [P], [S], [W]

L’Apres midi d’un faune (1912)

Choreography - Vaslav Nijinsky
Music – Claude Debussy’s orchestral Prelude a l’apres midi d’un faune illustrating Mallarme’s poem
Décor – Leon Bakst
Premiere Nov. 21, 1947, Melbourne

Bar aux Folies-Bergere

Choreography – Ninette de Valois based on Manet’s painting
Music – Alexis Chabrier
Décor – William Chappell
Australian dancers : Charles Boyd (Old man), David Hunt and Cecil Bates (Drunks), Basil Truro (Valentin the waiter), June Florenz (Can-Can dancer)
Australian dancers in NZ : Basil Truro (Valentin the waiter), Charles Boyd (Old man), David Hunt, Cecil Bates (Drunks)
Australian premiere Nov. 21, 1947, Melbourne

Bluebird pas de deux

SEE The sleeping princess. Bluebird pas de deux

Capriol suite

Choreography – Frederick Ashton
Music – Peter Warlock’s arr. sixteenth century peasant dances
Costumes – William Chappell
Australian premiere Jan.2, 1948, Melbourne

Carnival of animals

Choreography and decor – Andree Howard
Music – C. Saint-Saens
Australian dancers : Charles Boyd (Lion), Joan Halliday (Cock), Cecil Bates (Tortoise), June Florenz (Mrs Kangaroo), Ruth Boker and Marita Lowden (Fish), Ann Somers (Cuckoo)
Premiere Nov. 19, 1948, Melbourne

Casse-Noisette, Act II or The Nutcracker suite, Act II

Choreography – Lev Ivanov
Music – P. Tchaikovsky
Décor – Harry Cordwell
Australian dancers : Ann Somers (Sugar Plum Fairy) and Ruth Boker (Sugar sticks), Monica Halliday (Sugar stick), Charles Boyd (Chinese dance) and David Hunt (Arabian dance), Basil Truro (Russian dance), June Florenz, Joan Halliday Marita Lowden, Moira Peoples (Fairies), Cecil Bates (Chinese dance)
Australian dancers in NZ : Ann Somers (Sugar Plum Fairy, Sugar stick), Joan and Monica Halliday (Sugar sticks), Charles Boyd, Cecil Bates (Chinese dance), David Hunt (Arabian dance), Basil Truro (Russian dance), June Florenz, Marita Lowden (Fairies)
Premiere Mar. 13, 1948, Sydney

Concerto burlesco

Choreography – Walter Gore
Music – B. Bartok arr. Arthur Oldham
Décor - Eve Swinstead-Smith
Australian dancers : Charles Boyd (Chucker out, Virtuoso of the piano), Basil Truro (Lover), David Hunt (Latecomer), Marita Lowden, Joan Halliday, Cecil Bates (Virtuosi of the piano), Cecil Bates (Lover)
Premiere Oct. 11, 1948, Sydney

Czernyana

Choreography - Frank Staff
Music – K. Czerny
Décor – Eve Swinstead-Smith
Australian dancers : Charles Boyd (Se habla espanol), Basil Truro (Nuage)
Premiere Nov. 28, 1947, Melbourne

Dark elegies

Choreography - Antony Tudor
Music – G. Mahler’s song cycle Kindertotenlieder
Décor – Nadia Benois
Singer – Stefan Haag
Australian dancers : Charles Boyd (Third song, Fifth song), David Hunt, Cecil Bates, Ruth Boker (Fifth song)
Australian premiere Dec. 3, 1948, Melbourne

Death and the maiden

Choreography and costumes - Andree Howard
Music – F. Schubert’s Andante cantabile, D minor quartet
Australian dancers : Cecil Bates, June Florenz, Moira Peoples (Shadows)
Premiere Nov. 14, 1947, Melbourne

Descent of Hebe

Choreography - Antony Tudor
Music – E. Bloch
Décor – Nadia Benois
Australian dancers : June Florenz, Moira Peoples (Night’s nymphs), Ann Somers, Joan and Monica Halliday (Hebe’s nymphs)
Premiere Nov. 10, 1948, Adelaide

Facade (Original version)

Choreography – Frederick Ashton
Music – W. Walton
Décor – J. Armstrong
Australian dancers : Cecil Bates (Scotch rhapsody), Basil Truro (Yodelling, Popular songs), Ann Somers (Polka), Marita Lowden (Valse)
Australian dancers in NZ : Cecil Bates (Scotch rhapsody), Basil Truro (Yodelling, Popular songs)
Premiere Oct. 24, 1947, Melbourne

The fugitive

Choreography - Andree Howard
Music – L. Salzedo
Décor and costumes – Hugh Stevenson
Australian dancers : Charles Boyd (The fugitive), David Hunt, Cecil Bates, Ann Somers (Guests)
Premiere Feb. 28, 1948, Sydney

Gala performance

Choreography - Antony Tudor
Music – S. Prokofiev
Décor – Hugh Stevenson
Australian dancers : Basil Truro, David Hunt (Cavaliers), Ann Somers, Joan and Monica Halliday (Coryphees), Charles Boyd (Conductor)
Premiere Oct. 17, 1947, Melbourne

Giselle

Choreography – Coralli & Perrot
Music – Adolphe Adam
Décor – Hugh Stevenson
Australian dancers : Rachel Cameron, Marita Lowden, June Florenz, Ann Somers, Joan and Monica Halliday, Moira Peoples, Ruth Boker (Giselle’s friends, Wilis), David Hunt, Cecil Bates, Basil Truro (Courtiers), Charles Boyd (The prince, Wilfred), Kathleen Lamb (Lady in waiting)
Australian dancers in NZ : Charles Boyd (Wilfred), Basil Truro (The Prince), Marita Lowden, June Florenz, Ann Somers, Joan and Monica Halliday (Giselle’s friends, Wilis), David Hunt, Cecil Bates (Courtiers)
Premiere : Oct. 17, 1947, Melbourne

Jardin aux lilas

Choreography - Antony Tudor
Music – E. Chausson’s Poeme for violin and orchestra
Décor – Hugh Stevenson
Solo violin Leonard Dommett (also Leader), Lionel Lawson
Australian dancers : David Hunt, Charles Boyd (Guest)
Australian premiere Oct. 24, 1947, Melbourne

Judgment of Paris

Choreography - Antony Tudor
Music – K. Weill
Theme and costumes – Hugh Laing
Australian dancer : Charles Boyd
Australian premiere Oct. 4, 1948, Sydney

Lady into fox

Choreography - Andree Howard adaptn David Garnett’s novel
Music – A. Honeggar arr. A. Dorati
Décor – Nadia Benois
Australian dancers : David Hunt (Huntsman), Cecil Bates (Huntsman, Guest), Charles Boyd (Mr Tebrick), June Florenz, Joan Halliday, Moira Peoples (Guests)
Australian premiere Dec. 12, 1947, Melbourne

Les masques

Choreography – Frederick Ashton
Music – F. Poulenc
Décor – Sophie Fedorovitch
Premiere Nov. 7, 1947, Melbourne

Mephisto valse

Choreography - Frederick Ashton
Music – F. Liszt
Décor – Sophie Fedorovitch
Australian dancers : David Hunt, Cecil Bates (Young men)
Australian premiere Jan. 9, 1948, Melbourne

Mermaid

Choreography - Andree Howard & Susan Salaman
Music – M. Ravel
Décor - Andree Howard
Australian dancers : June Florenz (Other mermaid), David Hunt (Prince’s friend)
Premiere Nov. 14, 1947, Melbourne

Mr Punch

Choreography - Walter Gore
Music – Arthur Oldham
Décor – Ronald Wilson
Australian dancer : Cecil Bates (Devil)
Premiere Dec. 5, 1947, Melbourne

The nutcracker suite, Act II

SEE Casse-Noisette

Peter and the wolf

Choreography – Frank Staff
Music – S. Prokofiev
Decor – Guy Sheppard
Narrator – Walter Gore
Australian dancers : David Hunt (Grandfather), Basil Truro (Wolf), Ann Somers (Bird), Charles Boyd (Huntsman), June Florenz (Hunter)
Australian premiere Oct. 31, 1947, Melbourne

Plaisance

Choreography - Walter Gore
Music – G. Rossini
Décor – Harry Cordwell
Australian dancers : Cecil Bates, David Hunt, Basil Truro
Australian dancers in NZ: Cecil Bates, David Hunt, Basil Truro
Premiere Nov. 7, 1947, Melbourne

The planets

Choreography – Antony Tudor
Music – G. Holst
Décor – Hugh Stevenson
Australian dancers : June Florenz, Ruth Boker (Satellites of Venus), Rachel Cameron, Marita Lowden, Monica Halliday, Moira Peoples (Satellites of Mars), Ann Somers (Mortal born under Mercury)
Premiere Nov. 7, 1947, Melbourne

The sailor's return

Choreography and décor - Andree Howard of David Garnett’s novel
Music – A. Oldham
Australian dancers : Ann Somers, Ruth Boker (Natives of Dahomey), Marita Lowden (Native of Dahomey, Mrs Clall), June Florenz (Native of Dahomey, New tenant of “The sailor’s return”), Charles Boyd (Native of Dahomey, Mr Stingo, New tenant of “The Sailor’s Return”, Harry Target), David Hunt (Native of Dahomey, Carter, Sea captain), Cecil Bates (Native of Dahomey, Mr Stingo, Simpleton, The Rev. Adrian Cronk), Basil Truro (Harry Target), Joan Halliday (Village lady)
Australian premiere Jan. 2, 1948, Melbourne

Simple symphony

Choreography - Walter Gore
Music – B. Britten
Décor – Ronald Wilson
Australian dancers : Basil Truro, Charles Boyd, Cecil Bates, Marita Lowden, Ann Somers, Monica and Joan Halliday
Australian premiere Oct. 25, 1947, Melbourne

The sleeping princess. Bluebird pas de deux

Choreography – Petipa
Music – P. Tchaikovsky
Costumes – Harry Cordwell
Premiere Oct. 31, 1947, Melbourne

Soiree musicale

Choreography – Antony Tudor
Music – G. Rossini arr. B. Britten
Décor – Hugh Stevenson
Australian dancer : David Hunt (Canzonetta)
Australian dancers in NZ : David Hunt (Canzonetta), Basil Truro (Tyrolese)
Premiere Oct. 17, 1947, Melbourne

Spanish divertissement

Choreography – Elsa Brunelleschi
Music – Albeniz ; Trad. ; Jose Sentis
Premiere Dec. 26, 1947, Melbourne

Spectre de la rose

Choreography – M. Fokine
Music – C.M. von Weber
Costumes – Leon Bakst
Premiere Jan. 2, 1948, Melbourne

Swan Lake, Act II

Choreography – Petipa & L. Ivanov
Music – P. Tchaikovsky
Décor – Harry Cordwell
Australian dancers : June Florenz, Marita Lowden, Ruth Boker, Moira Peoples (Swans), David Hunt, Cecil Bates, Charles Boyd (Huntsmen), Joan Halliday (Swan, Pas de quatre, Pas de trois), Monica Halliday (Swan, Pas de quatre), Ann Somers (Swan, Pas de trois, Swan princess), Basil Truro (Pas de trois)
Premiere Oct. 25, 1947, Melbourne

Les sylphides

Choreography – M. Fokine
Music – F. Chopin
Décor – Ronald Wilson
Australian dancers : June Florenz, Marita Lowden, Rachel Cameron, Ruth Boker, Ann Somers, Joan and Monica Halliday (Nocturne)
Premiere Oct. 31, 1947, Melbourne

Winter night

Choreography – Walter Gore
Music – S. Rachmaninov
Décor – Kenneth Rowell
Australian dancers : Ann Somers, Joan and Monica Halliday, June Florenz, Charles Boyd, Cecil Bates, David Hunt
World premiere Nov. 19, 1948, Melbourne

Miscellaneous

Ballet Rambert 60th Birthday Performance, Wednesday 11th June 1986, Sadler's Wells Theatre, London. - This performance was given in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in aid of the Ballet Rambert Appeal.