What was perhaps the first all-Australian ballet, Terra Australis, premiered in Melbourne on 25 May 1946. Performed by the Borovansky Ballet it was choreographed by Edouard Borovansky, newly naturalised as an Australian, to a libretto by Tom Rothfield and a commissioned score by Esther Rofe. The ballet dealt with the colonisation of Australia by white explorers. Australia was represented by a young virgin, the Spirit of Australia, who was courted by an Aboriginal lover but drawn to a white explorer. The original cast included Peggy Sager as the Spirit of Australia, Martin Rubinstein as the Explorer and Vassilie Trunoff as the Aborigine. Designs for the 1946 production were by Eve Harris.
Terra Australis was restaged by the Borovansky Ballet in 1947 when Kathleen Gorham danced the role of the Spirit of Australia. At this time the work was partly redesigned by William Constable who made a new backcloth. The original costumes by Eve Harris were retained.
For a further discussion of Terra Australis and its creation see 'Terra Australis' in National Library of Australia News, October 2003.
Keith Parker, 'An Australian Ballet is Made', Ballet (London: Ballet Publications), 2, (No. 3, August, 1946), pp. 57-59.
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This collection contains eight original designs for the Borovansky Ballet's production of Terra Australis, which premiered in Melbourne in May 1946. Eve Harris designed both the costumes and the set for this original production, although the set was redesigned for subsequent productions by William Constable. Also included in the collection are newspaper clippings and a program for the original production.
This collection relates to ballet performances in Australia in the 1940s and consists of photographs, programs and newspaper clippings. Dancers represented in photographs include Edouard Borovansky, Laurel Martyn, Edna Busse, Serge Bousloff, Alfred Ross, and Martin Rubinstein. Productions represented include Vltava and Terra Australis. Programs are for the Borovansky Australian Ballet and the Melbourne Ballet Club, the forerunner to the Borovansky Ballet. Newspaper clippings include material relating to Anna Pavlova, Laurel Martyn, Dorothy Stevenson, Genevieve Moulin, and Anna Volkova, a rehearsal scene from Les Sylphides (1942), and some ballet reviews.
This film traces the early history of dance in Australia showing the importance of tours to the country by companies from overseas, and highlighting the development of local companies such as the Kirsova Ballet, Ballet Guild and the Bodenwieser Ballet. Footage includes scenes of Laurel Martyn rehearsing her work En Saga and excerpts from the repertoire of the Bodenwieser Ballet including Waterlilies, Demon Machine and Blue Danube. Most attention, however, is given to the Borovansky Ballet. The company is seen in a variety of works including Le Beau Danube, Capriccio italien, Terra Australis, Swan Lake and Les Sylphides. Backstage activities are also shown. The dancers who appear include Martin Rubinstein, Tamara Tchinarova, Kathleen Gorham, Vassilie Trunoff, Serge Bousloff, Edna Busse and Edouard Borovansky. Xenia Borovansky is seen conducting a class, Edouard Borovansky is seen directing rehearsals and Bill Constable is seen painting cloths for Terra Australis.