Edouard Borovansky (1902-1959)

Czech-born Edouard Borovansky came to Australia in 1929 as a dancer with the company of Anna Pavlova. He returned in 1938 with the Covent Garden Russian Ballet but elected to remain in Australia at the conclusion of the tour in 1939. With his wife Xenia he established a ballet school in Melbourne and eventually a ballet company variously called the Borovansky Ballet, the Borovansky Australian Ballet Company, the Borovansky Ballet of 40 and the Borovansky Jubilee Ballet.

The company's first fully professional season was in 1944 when Borovansky received backing from the J. C. Williamson organisation. Prior to that Borovansky had staged a number of seasons in Melbourne for which he received a fee and in which some principals were paid. He had also presented many studio performances, beginning in 1940, in which original choreography was presented by a range of artists including Borovansky himself, Xenia Borovansky, Laurel Martyn and Dorothy Stevenson. His first foray into public presentation was probably the 'First Season of Ballet', staged by the National Theatre Movement in 1939. In that program Borovansky shared the evening with other Melbourne dance teachers Jennie Brenan, Elsie James and Lucie Saronova. Borovansky was naturalised as an Australian in 1946.

Borovansky choreographed a number of works for his company. Some, like The Black Swan , Terra Australis and The Outlaw , were overtly Australian in theme, others, like Vltava and Fantasy on Grieg's Concerto in A minor drew on Borovansky's European heritage for inspiration. He also mounted the classics including Swan Lake , Giselle , The Sleeping Princess and Nutcracker , the latter being choreographed and staged for Borovansky by David Lichine. In the early years of his company he encouraged choreography from members of his own company and both Laurel Martyn and Dorothy Stevenson made works for him. Later, choreographers who worked for him included company members Paul Grinwis and Robert Pomi?. David Lichine was also commissioned to create an original ballet. The result was Corrida , which premiered on 17 February 1956.

Borovansky died in December 1959. Despite the reputation he had for being difficult at times, his contribution to dance in Australia is inestimable. He provided Australian audiences with their main exposure to Western theatrical dance for two decades and paved the way for the development of a national company.

as Girolamo with (left to right)
Irina Vassilieva, Irina Kosmovska and Raisse Kouznetsova
in "Francesca da Rimini", Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo by Maurice Seymour
National Library of Australia

as the Chief Eunuch in "Scheherazade"
Covent Garden Russian Ballet
National Library of Australia