Toumanova, Tamara (1919 - 1996)
Tamara Toumanova came to Australia in 1939 on the third of the Ballets Russes tours. The company, known during this tour as the Original Ballet Russe, gave its opening night in Sydney on 30 December 1939 and toured until September 1940. To much acclaim Toumanova danced leading roles in Swan Lake , Aurora's Wedding , Le Spectre de la rose and Firebird , and in Leonide Massine's three, extraordinarily popular symphonic ballets, Les Presages , Choreartium and Symphonie fantastique . In Australia she created the part of 'Illusion' in Igor Schwezoff's ballet La Lutte eternelle . This work, with designs by Australians Kathleen and Florence Martin, premiered in Sydney on 29 July 1940 and was a revision of an earlier work by Schwezoff, Etude choreographique . Toumanova also danced the role of Swanilda in Coppelia , the company's last major production in Australia before it left for the United States.
Trained in Paris with Olga Preobrajenska, Toumanova was one of the three 'baby ballerinas' - along with Irina Baronova and Tatiana Riabouchinska - whose impact on ballet during the 1930s was inestimable. Toumanova made her stage debut in Paris, aged 6, at an Anna Pavlova benefit gala. She subsequently made a guest appearance at the Paris Opera at the age of 11 in L'Eventail de Jeanne , and then joined the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo at the age of 13. She inspired choreographers such as George Balanchine, Leonide Massine and Serge Lifar and her dark beauty led Briitish critic Arnold Haskell to call her the black pearl of Russian ballet.