Geoffrey Ingram (1924–2003) was born in Melbourne and educated at Middle Park Central School and Melbourne High School. He was a juvenile actor taking part in plays and serials on commercial and national radio. He studied ballet with Xenia Borovansky and Eunice Weston, and later trained in London and Paris. On his return to Australia he joined the Borovansky Company for a time and then danced with Laurel Martyn’s Melbourne Ballet Company.
In 1958 Ingram joined Margaret Scott in forming a committee to promote the idea of a non-commercial national ballet company. He took part in the meeting between the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust and J.C. Williamson that led to the establishment of the Australian Ballet Foundation. He subsequently visited Paris, Moscow and Leningrad as adviser to the Foundation and worked with Peggy Van Praagh in London. On his return, he launched the education and promotion programs of the Australian Ballet for its inaugural season in 1962. He was administrator of the Australian Ballet from 1963 to 1965 and organised its first overseas tour, with Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev as guest artists.
Ingram moved into film production and he also owned a restaurant. He had a strong interest in public affairs and in 1969 he took action in the High Court of Australia, challenging the legality of the SALT II Treaty. In his later years he became involved in the National Dance Research Centre.
In 1985 Ingram inherited the personal archives of the Russian-born dancer and teacher Xenia Borovansky (1903–1985), who was the niece of Anna Pavlova, and her husband, the dancer and ballet director Edouard Borovansky (1902–1959). Ingram also obtained material from other sources, especially Lisbeth Montgomerie, who had been secretary to the Borovanskys.
The original Geoffrey Ingram Collection was purchased by the Library from Ingram in 1987. Additional manuscripts and personal papers were bought in 1994. In 2003, shortly before his death, Ingram sold his remaining papers to the Library.
The manuscripts in the Geoffrey Ingram Collection consist mostly of papers of Edouard and Xenia Borovansky. They date from 1918, when Xenia Smirnoff was born in Russia, to about 1980. They include personal documents, photographs, letters, contracts, financial papers, diaries, notebooks, music scores, newspaper cuttings, programs and files on the Borovansky Ballet Academy, the Australian Academy of Dancing and the Australian Ballet. The correspondents include Peggy Van Praagh, Elaine Fifield, Tamara Tchinarova, Leon Kelleway, Laurel Martyn, Frederick Ashton, Margot Fonteyn and Frank Tait.
There are also some papers of Lisbeth Montgomerie, including a scrapbook, photographs, and programs and a cutting book on the visit of the Ballet Rambert to Australia in 1947–48.
Paintings and Drawings
The collection contains paintings, drawings and sketches by Edouard Borovansky. They comprise an oil self-portrait (1948), oil portraits of Xenia Borovansky and Edna Busse, drawings of Serge Grigorieff, Paul Petroff, Mi Ladre, David Lichina and Irena Baranova, and 47 sketch drawings. There are also some original costume designs.
Apart from photographs filed with manuscripts, the collection contains about 960 photographs of productions and of dancers, producers and other individuals associated with ballet companies. They are kept in albums and arranged in six series:
- Edouard Borovansky
- Anna Pavlova
- Ballets Russes, 1936–40
- Borovansky Ballet
- Ballet Rambert tour of Australia, 1947–48
- Australian Ballet
- Geoffrey Ingram
There are also family photographs.
The printed component of the Geoffrey Ingram Collection consists of about 650 programs, cast lists, souvenir booklets, issues of periodicals, handbills, invitations and ephemera. The bulk of the programs are of productions of the Borovansky Ballet (1941–57) and there are also programs of the De Basil Company, the Kirsova Company and the Australian Ballet.
Personal papers of Geoffrey Ingram include documents, correspondence, contracts, appointment diaries, notebooks, drafts of articles, papers on the formation and early years of the Australian Ballet, papers on the challenge to the SALT II Treaty, writings on world peace, the Mabo Case and other political subjects, newspaper cuttings and printed material. Correspondents include Sir Robert Helpmann, Peggy Van Praagh, Will Thompson, Leo McKern, Sir Geoffrey Keynes and Bishop Oliver Hayward.
The manuscripts and personal papers are kept together in the Manuscripts Collection at MS 7336 and Acc. 02/230. A finding aid is available online at https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-298092567/findingaid.
The paintings, drawings and figure studies are held in the Pictures Collection (R10481–10531, R10884, R10885, R10988 and R10989). The photographs are also held in the Pictures Collection at P348. A 16-page finding aid is also available.
The programs and other printed ephemera in the original Geoffrey Ingram Collection are housed in the Australian performing arts collection (PROMPT).
Obituary of Geoffrey Ingram, Herald Sun, 4 July 2003, p. 96.
Potter, Michelle, Oral history interview with Geoffrey Ingram, 1988, ORAL TRC 2372.
Potter, Michelle, The Geoffrey Ingram Archive of Australian Ballet, National Library of Australia News, vol. 3 (12), September 1993, pp. 11–13.
Salter, Frank, Borovansky, The Man Who Made Australian Ballet, Wildcat Press, Sydney, 1980.
First posted 2008 (revised 2019)