The organisation that eventually became Ballet Rambert was founded by Marie Rambert in London in the 1920s initially as a vehicle for her students and as a means of fostering new choreography. The company toured Australia in association with the British Council beginning in Melbourne in October 1947 and concluding in Perth in January 1949. The company gave over 500 performances and appeared in Adelaide, Brisbane, Broken Hill, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney as well as undertaking a tour to New Zealand in May 1948.
As well as popular classics such as Giselle, Swan Lake Act II, and Les Sylphides, the company's repertoire for the Australian tour included contemporary choreography by English artists such as Frederick Ashton, Walter Gore, Andree Howard, Antony Tudor and Ninette de Valois. It also introduced Australian audiences to the work of English designers such as Nadia Benois and Sophie Fedorovitch. Walter Gore's Winter Night, designed by Australian Kenneth Rowell as his first professional commission for a ballet company, received its world premiere in Melbourne in November 1948.
A number of Australians were engaged by the company to perform in Australia, notably Kathleen Gorham who danced under the name Ann Somers and Charles Boyd who had performed with Ballet Rambert in England in the early 1940s. While some Australian dancers elected to travel to England with the company at the conclusion of the Australian engagement, others decided to remain in Australia, among them Margaret Scott who went on to make a singular contribution to the development of dance in Australia most notably as founding director of the Australian Ballet School, and Joyce Graeme who established the Melbourne-based National Theatre Ballet Company in 1949.
The Ballet Rambert tour to Australia is discussed in 'Ballet Rambert Creates a Splash' in National Library of Australia News, December 2002. A listing of Ballet Rambert's Australian repertoire is available as an online resource at Ballet Rambert Tour of Australia and New Zealand 1947-1949.
For further online resources relating to the Ballet Rambert tour see the National Library of Australia's online exhibition Dance people dance, especially 'Artistic impact (Item 6)' and 'Artistic impact (Item 7)'.
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The National Library's PROMPT collection contains a comprehensive range of programs and some ephemera from the Australian and New Zealand tour by Ballet Rambert. Material includes weekly programs, souvenir programs, a small amount of publicity material and some newspaper clippings. It documents the company's seasons in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Auckland. A detailed list of this material, which includes a list of Ballet Rambert's Australian repertoire, is located at Australian Performing Arts (PROMPT) Collection Ballet Rambert Tour of Australia and New Zealand 1947-1949.
The papers of Cecil Bates contain a number of letters and documents relating to Bates' career with the Ballet Rambert, both during its Australian tour and in England. Some correspondence with Marie Rambert is included. Other material includes clippings relating to the theatrical activities of Bates' musical parents, material documenting Bates' career outside the Rambert company (including his work in Adelaide) reviews of works in which he danced and which he choreographed, theatrical contracts, papers of registration for Bates' ballet school and some photographs.
See: Scrapbook of Lisabeth Montgomerie, 1946 (Box 9 of this Manuscript Collection)
This scrapbook compiled by Lisabeth Montgomerie contains newspaper clippings relating to the Ballet Rambert Australian tour. Clippings refer mostly to the first Melbourne season in 1946. Also included is the souvenir booklet A Souvenir of the Twentieth Year. Ballet Rambert 1926-1946, edited by Walter Gore.
The collection includes Raymond Hanson's Dhoogor: Ballet op. 18 for a proposed all-Australian ballet for Ballet Rambert, during their 1947-1949 Australian tour