Simply Ballet History

The Father of Australian Ballet - Edouard Borovansky

Edouard Borovansky (1902-1959)

Sometimes known as the ‘father of Australian Ballet’ It’s often said he started the first Australian ballet company – but that’s not quite true… That was Helen Kirosova. Edouard, or Edward Borovansky had an enormous influence on the development of ballet in Australia.

Edouward Borovansky and his wife Xenia first came to Australia from Czechoslovakia in 1929 with Anna Pavlova’s touring company. It was a false start though, as they returned to Europe where Edouard eventually joined the Ballets Russe de Monte Carlo. They returned to Australia in 1938 with the Covent Garden Russian Ballet, and the couple decided to stay as war loomed in Europe.

Starting a small school in Melbourne with Eunice Weston and his wife Xenia teaching – within a year they had enough students to start a small ballet company. The company’s local success eventually attracted financial backing from touring company J C Williams whose support meant the now named Borovansky Australian Ballet Company could present established repertoire, and new choreography by Borovansky himself.

As the company grew, it attracted more Australian dancers. Local stars such as Martin Rubenstein (eventually an RAD Examiner), Kathleen Gorman (later a renowned teacher), Garth Welch, Marilyn Jones (stars of the later formed Australian Ballet Company) were all part of the company.

In 1948 the company folded due to lack of funds – but Borovansky was not deterred. Reestablishing in 1951, a glorious period followed including an appearance from Margot Fonteyn and Michael Somes in 1957, and a string of uniquely Australian choreographic works from Borovansky himself.

Sadly, in 1959 Borovansky died and the Borovansky Ballet passed into the hands of Dame Peggy vaan Praugh for 3 years until JC Williamson disbanded the company in 1961 – not without good reason though. A grant from the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust, designed to lead to the establishment of the Australian Ballet Company was received, and as they say – the rest is history!