History

The Formation of the Mildura and District Ballet Guild – the first year - 1959

The formation of the Mildura and District Ballet Guild in 1959 was the result of much ground work in the previous year and, indeed, owes much of its existence to the tenacity of one woman, Joyce, Mrs. Lester Davey.

From its beginning this area has had a rich arts community. Plays, music and dance have been an ongoing part of the lives of many of its residents. Dance, in its varying forms has been an integral part of the culture.

By the 1950s there were still several teachers of what was then called ‘musical comedy dancing’. Today we would see it as a mixture of classical and modern ballet, jazz, tap, and any other form of dance expression. The only school working solely in a form of classical ballet was that run by Joseph Ambrazas and his wife, Hildegarde.

Sometime in 1958 a young student, Maria Andriske, was taken by her mother to the Borovansky Ballet School in Melbourne and there impressed Madame Cuinovas. Madame had known Joseph Ambrazas in Europe and, although associated with the stage, he was not trained as a dancer. This report sealed the end of the Ambrazas school and the search was on for ways in which to create a legitimate alternative.

Finally, through Mrs. Lester Davey, the services were obtained of a qualified young woman who had a ballet school in Broken Hill. She was to fly to Mildura once a week to take classes in St. Margaret’s Hall which had been used for ballet classes for many years. The Hall’s floor was reasonable, its space good, and pews could be turned around to make excellent barres. After several visits it was obvious that this was not a practical arrangement nor was it going to be a financial success.

It was clear that there was a new and eager generation of parents and children in the district wanting to learn ballet. Perhaps this had been ignited by a recent visit and performance by Laurel Martyn’s Victorian Ballet Guild.


Sunraysia Daily Friday 13 March, 1959; p.2
School of Ballet Here
Mr .Bruce Morrow, a former leading dancer with the Borovansky Company will commence ballet classes at Mildura.
Mr. Morrow is a fully qualified Royal Academy of Dancing instructor, and is qualified to teach diploma courses. He will be assisted by his wife, also a former dancer with the same company.
The classes will be run on Tuesday evenings in St.. Margaret’s Hall, and classes will be arranged for beginners, intermediate and advanced pupils.

* * *

Mr. Morrow was to drive from Melbourne each week and, to be an ongoing success, more teaching time was needed to warrant such a journey. The Mildura and District Ballet Guild was formed incorporating schools in Robinvale and Swan Hill, and Mr. Morrow would teach at Robinvale on the Monday, Mildura on Tuesday, and Swan Hill on the Wednesday, with each place run by its own committee. The schedule was a huge ‘ask’ and it is amazing that he continued for three years. On each trip, when he was not teaching, he would be choreographing or working in some other way. Bernice Morrow was never involved in these schools. She had her own school in Melbourne, as well as three young children to look after. Unfortunately the one visit she made mid-year resulted in a broken collar bone from a car accident.

Sunraysia Daily Monday 16 March, 1959; p.4
Ballet Guild is Formed
First annual general meeting of the Mildura and District Ballet Guild will be held at the Henry Bolte Gallery, Mildura on Monday next.
Anybody interested has been invited to attend.

* * *

Sybil Duggan was the Guild’s first pianist. Well-known in the district as both soloist and accompanist she was to give her final Mildura performance as a solo pianist on the 16th Nov 1959. She had studied at what is now the Melba Conservatorium under its consecutive Directors, Fritz Hart and Harold Elvins.

Mrs. Duggan filled the role of class pianist to perfection and was replace by the equally well-known Daphne Nolan at the start of 1960.

Sunraysia Daily Tuesday 15 September 1959; p.3
First show by ballet guild
Mildura and District Ballet Guild’s first performance, in the Merbein civic Hall on Monday , October 26, will be a well-contrasted program of three ballets.
Bruce Morrow, former leading soloist of the Borovansky and National Ballet Companies, who is the guild’s teacher, is responsible for the choreography in the two ballets Summer Garden and Vignette.
The main work, Peter and the wolf, is produced by Bruce Morrow after the ballet by Frank Staff.
* * *

Sunraysia Daily Thursday 22 October 1959; p.6
Ballet at Merbein on Monday Night
On Monday night the Mildura [and] district Ballet Guild will give a performance of Peter and the Wolf at the Civic Hall, Merbein, under the direction of Bruce Morrow.
Two of the guest artists who will be appearing in Bruce Morrow’s “Vignette” are teachers of ballet and have their own classes in Melbourne.
Bernice Powell has danced with many Australian companies including the Borovansky Ballet. She married Bruce Morrow in 1952.
Merle German is a dancer of strong technique and personality whose professional experience in Australia and overseas brings lustre to her performance.
Both these dancers have been appearing in Sunday night performances of new ballets presented by the Ballet Guild in Melbourne.
Chinese Lanterns and the Russian Thistles in their gay red and white tunics, while bright caterpillas in the shades of lime and red with jewelled turbans will … the bronze falling leaves.
This first presentation by the Mildura and District Ballet Guild is of great significance.
Not only does it illustrate that the children of Sunraysia now have the opportunity of learning ballet but that this district now has another and most vital art form to enjoy and foster.
Bookings are available at Andy gouge 8th Street for the performance.

* * *

The programme was a huge success. Bruce Morrow, not only an accomplished dancer and choreographer, is also an excellent artist. His costume designs have always been stunning. It is his drawing that appears on the front of the 1959 programme.

Every Saturday morning we ‘advanced’ students would gather in the Mural Hall to rehearse by ourselves. Corinne van Hattum, the wife of the Gallery Director, was one of us.

“Peter and the Wolf” which, incidentally is not a fairy tale but a Russian folk tale, is a fun piece to work with, and gives scope for individual interpretation.

I stand by my statement that the Mildura and District Ballet Guild owes its establishment to Joyce, Mrs. Lester Davey; and secondly, to the committee members of those first years. It was pleasing to find this backed up in newspaper items.

Mrs. Lester Davey has been largely responsible for the attempt to form a ballet guild here.
From Sunraysia Daily Saturday 21 March, 1959; p.2
Sunraysia gets a ballet guild

At the conclusion of the program, Mr. Morrow introduced Mrs. Lester Davey, president of the guild and the driving force behind its formation this year.
From Sunraysia Daily Thursday 29 October 1959; p.6
First ballet show full of promise

I also firmly believe that it was Ernst van Hattum, Director of the Gallery, who suggested and allowed classes to be conducted at the Mural Hall, and his quote from the 1959 meeting would be a fitting one for your 2009 programme.

“The ballet is one of the rare forms of practical culture which develops both the body and the mind.”
From Sunraysia Daily Saturday 21 March, 1959; p.2
Sunraysia gets a ballet guild

However, the contribution made by having a teacher of the calibre of Bruce Morrow in those formative years cannot be underestimated. Just because one can dance does not mean one can teach. Bruce has been recognised as an outstanding teacher and his contribution to ballet in Australia, particularly his attachment to the Australian Ballet School, has had world-wide implications for this art.

My involvement with the Mildura and District Ballet Guild was not something that was transitory for me but something that contributed to moulding the rest of my life. I have only covered 1959 in this article, but hope to cover 1960-61 at a later date.

Lesley Gorrell (nee Hughes)
Doncaster
29 October, 2009.

Congratulations to the Ballet Guild on the 50th Anniversary. My memories of the Guild begin in the first years when Mum, Doris Evans, was part of the first committee. Much hard work went into bringing classical ballet teaching to Mildura at that time. I was taught by Bruce Morrow, I think the first teacher, and Algeranoff. My daughters Jane and Kate learnt with the Ballet Guild at Dareton and in Mildura.
We all have happy and positive memories of the Ballet Guild.
Diana Cross


TRIBUTE TO ALGERANOFF

“Maestro” as Algeranoff was known to his ballet pupils, taught and choreographed for the Mildura and District Ballet Guild as it was known, from 1962 until his untimely death in a car accident in 1967.

Born in England, Algeranoff’s career started when, still in his teens, he became first a character dancer in the company of the great ballerina Anna Pavlova.  Here and in following companies, ie: de Basil’s Ballet Russes, working under famous choreographers Fokine, Massine and La Nijinska, he not only amassed an immense knowledge and vast experience but his world wide travels brought him in contact with ethnic dances in many parts of the world.  He worked with many of the greats of Japanese traditional dance and of Spanish dance.

Algeranoff decide in his later years that one of his main tasks would be to bring the wonder of ballet to the children of the north-west Victorian area.  He is reported to have said, “It is fascinating to pass on to children the roles I have danced myself……..I have amassed a heritage in ballet from masters whose ideas and conceptions must be passed on and not allowed to die.”

It is in his memory that the Guild hands out annual awards to dance students who continue to show this heritage and promise as young dancers.

Committee List 1959 -2016

Year President Vice President Treasurer Secretary
1959 Mrs Lester Davey Mrs C Evans Mrs T Yates Miss J Green
1960        
1961        
1962 Mrs L L Davey Mrs C Foreman Mrs H Dobbyn Mrs A Gallagher
1963 Mrs L L Davey      
1964        
1965       Mrs N. Woodham
1966       Mrs D Rogers
1967       Mrs D Rogers
1968       Mrs D Underhill
1969        
1970        
1971        
1972        
1973        
1974        
1975 Mrs Wendy Adams   Mrs Eileen Sawyer Mrs Betty Johnston
1976 Mrs Wendy Adams   Mrs Eileen Sawyer / Mrs J Ramsey Mrs Betty Johnston
1977 Mrs Kath McCormick   Mrs Easterbrook Mrs Betty Johnston
1978 Mrs Kath McCormick   Mrs A Thompson Mrs Betty Johnston
1979 Mrs Kath McCormick   Mrs A Thompson Mrs Betty Johnston
1980 Mrs Kath McCormick   Mrs A Thompson Mrs Betty Johnston
1981 Mrs Kath McCormick     Mrs Betty Johnston
1982 Mrs Kath McCormick   Mrs Betty Johnston Mrs Jenny Kidd
1983 Mrs Kath McCormick   Mrs Betty Johnston Mrs Jenny Kidd
1984 Mrs Kath McCormick   Mrs Betty Johnston Mrs Jenny Kidd
1985 Mrs Kath McCormick   Mrs Betty Johnston Mrs Jenny Kidd
1986 Mrs Kath McCormick   Mrs Betty Johnston Mrs Melanie Ransom
1987 Mrs Kath McCormick   Mrs Betty Johnston Mrs Melanie Ransom
1988 Mrs Kath McCormick   Mrs Betty Johnston Mrs Melanie Ransom
1989 Mrs Kath McCormick   Mrs Betty Johnston Mrs Melanie Ransom
1990 Mrs Kath McCormick   Mrs Diane Young Mrs Melanie Ransom
1991 Mrs Kath McCormick   Mrs Diane Young Mrs Melanie Ransom
1992 Mrs Kath McCormick   Mrs Diane Young Mrs Melanie Ransom
1993 Mr Brian Murphy   Mrs Diane Young Mrs Cathy Shields
1994 Mr Brian Murphy   Mrs Diane Young Mrs Cathy Shields
1995 Mr Brian Murphy   Mr Brian Murphy Mrs Cathy Shields
1996 Mr Grahame Blaby Mrs Janette Blaby Mrs Glenda Ashton Mrs Gene Lister
1997 Mrs Joanne Allen Mrs Janette Blaby Mrs Glenda Ashton Mrs Gene Lister
1998 Mrs Joanne Allen Mrs Lisa Malic Mrs Sue Molloy/ Mr Peter Danson Mrs Kerry Dodson
1999 Mrs Joanne Allen Mrs Lisa Malic Mr Peter Danson Mrs Kerry Dodson
2000 Mrs Joanne Allen Mrs Leah Fleming      Mr Peter Danson Mrs Kerry Dodson
2001 Mrs Joanne Allen Mrs Leah Fleming Mr Peter Danson Mrs Kerry Dodson
2002 Mrs Joanne Allen Mrs Lisa Malic Mrs Sally Freeman Mrs Fiona Turlan
2003 Mrs Joanne Allen Mrs Lisa Malic Mrs Sally Freeman Mrs Fiona Turlan
2004 Mrs Joanne Allen Mrs Sharen Riley Mrs Sally Freeman Mrs Lisa Malic
2005 Mrs Sally Freeman Mrs Sharen Riley Mrs Fiona Turlan Mrs Lisa Malic
2006 Mrs Sally Freeman Mrs Kate Archibald Mrs Fiona Turlan Mrs Debra Williams
2007 Mrs Sally Freeman Mrs Kate Archibald Mrs Fiona Turlan Mrs Debra Williams
2008 Mrs Kate Archibald Mrs Amanda Pettigrew Mrs Joanne Allen Mrs Jean Millen
2009 Ms Trish Arnold Mrs Amanda Pettigrew Mrs Joanne Allen Mrs Jean Millen
2010 Ms Trish Arnold Mrs Sarah Ashcroft Mrs Joanne Allen Mrs Jean Millen
2011 Mrs Sarah Ashcroft Mrs Jo Cottrell Mrs Joanne Allen Mrs Jean Millen
2012 Mrs Sarah Ashcroft Mrs Jo Cottrell Mrs Joanne Allen Mrs Jean Millen
2013 Mrs Sarah Ashcroft Mrs Jo Cottrell Mrs Joanne Allen Mrs Jean Millen
2014 Mrs Sarah Ashcroft Mrs Jo Cottrell/Mrs Jenny Jess Ms Joanne Allen Mrs Jean Millen
2015 Mrs Jo Cottrell Mrs Jenny Jess Mrs Grace Spataro Mrs Jean Millen
2016 Mrs Jenny Jess Mrs Sheree Darcy Mrs Grace Spataro Mrs Kylie Costa
2017 Mrs Jenny Jess Mrs Sheree Darcy Mrs Grace Spataro Mrs Kylie Costa

Teachers List 1959 -2016

Year Teacher Teacher Teacher Teacher
1959 Mr Bruce Morrow      
1960 Mr Bruce Morrow      
1961 Mr Bruce Morrow      
1962 Algeranoff      
1963 Algeranoff      
1964 Algeranoff      
1965 Algeranoff      
1966 Algeranoff Michael Anderson    
1967 Master Malcolm Hughes      
1968 Master Malcolm Hughes Ms Diane Clayfield    
1969 Master Malcolm Hughes Ms Anne Manger    
1970 Ms Lynne Golding      
1971 Ms Lynne Golding      
1972 Ms Christine Perry Miss Yvonne Gates    
1973 Ms Christine Perry Miss Yvonne Gates    
1974 Mr Michael Anderson Miss Yvonne Gates    
1975 Mr Michael Anderson Miss Yvonne Gates Ms Cynthia Haynes  
1976 Ms Cynthia Haynes Ms Leveda Carter Miss Kathryn Roberts Miss Teresa Chye / Miss P Hedley
1977 Miss Kathryn Roberts Miss Teresa Chye Miss Christina Tok Miss Curruthers
1978 Miss Kathryn Roberts Miss Teresa Chye    
1979 Miss Michelle Robinson Miss Karen Fabbeni    
1980 Miss Michelle Robinson Ms Brenda Kerr Miss Marie Crabb Miss Janine Duff
1981 Miss Michelle Robinson Miss Janine Duff    
1982 Miss Michelle Robinson Miss Janine Duff    
1983 Miss Michelle Robinson Miss Janine Duff    
1984 Miss Michelle Robinson Miss Janine Duff    
1985 Miss Michelle Robinson Miss Michelle Adams    
1986 Miss Michelle Robinson Miss Michelle Adams    
1987 Miss Michelle Robinson Miss Michelle Adams    
1988 Miss Michelle Robinson Miss Michelle Adams    
1989 Miss Yvette Storer Miss Grace Berlingo    
1990 Miss Yvette Storer Miss Grace Berlingo    
1991 Miss Yvette Storer Miss Caroline Gowers Miss Leanne Murphy  
1992 Miss Yvette Storer Mrs Kathryn Martin Miss Michelle Hamilton  
1993 Mrs Kathryn Martin Miss Yvette Storer    
1994 Mrs Kathryn Martin Miss Kristy Shaddock    
1995 Mrs Kathryn Martin Miss Danielle Milich    
1996 Mr Slava Zalomski Miss Kerryn Rowlands Miss Michelle Hamilton Ms Amanda Wang
1997 Miss Kim Smith Miss Michelle Hamilton Mrs Kathryn Martin  
1998 Miss Kim Smith Mrs Janine Kerr Miss Daniela Wells  
1999 Miss Michelle Cooper Mrs Janine Kerr    
2000 Mrs Janine Kerr Miss Belinda Harvey Miss Renee Burke  
2001 Mrs Janine Kerr Miss Belinda Harvey Miss Renee Burke  
2002 Mrs Janine Kerr Miss Belinda Harvey Miss Renee Burke  
2003 Mrs Janine Kerr Miss Belinda Harvey Miss Lauren Evans  
2004 Mrs Janine Kerr Miss Belinda Harvey Miss Lauren Evans  
2005 Mrs Janine Kerr Miss Belinda Harvey Miss Lauren Evans Miss Samantha Riley
2006 Mrs Janine Kerr Miss Belinda Harvey Mrs Libby Kennedy Miss Melanie Lister
2007 Mrs Janine Kerr Mrs Belinda Hudak Mrs Libby Kennedy Miss Rebecca Herrmann
    Miss Melanie Lister Miss Paige Malic Miss Amy Godfrey
2008 Mrs Janine Kerr Mrs Belinda Hudak Mrs Libby Kennedy Miss Grace Williams
    Miss Kristen McDougall Miss Paige Malic Miss Amy Godfrey
2009 Mrs Janine Kerr Mrs Belinda Hudak Mrs Libby Kennedy Miss Sally Hederics
      Miss Grace Williams Miss Claire Timmons
2010 Mrs Janine Kerr Ms Sally Hederics Mrs Libby Kennedy Miss Grace Williams
2011 Mrs Janine Kerr Ms Sally Hederics Mrs Libby Kennedy Miss Grace Williams
2012 Mrs Janine Kerr Ms Sally Hederics Mrs Libby Kennedy Miss Grace Williams
    Miss Gabby Herrmann Miss Kirsty Schilling Miss Melissa Panetta
2013 Mrs Janine Kerr Ms Sally Hederics Mrs Libby Kennedy Miss Grace Williams
    Miss Melissa Panetta    
2014 Mrs Janine Kerr Ms Sally Hederics Mrs Libby Kennedy Miss Taylor-Paige Wilkie
    Miss Melissa Panetta Miss Kirsty Schilling  
2015 Mrs Janine Kerr Ms Sally Hederics Mrs Libby Kennedy Miss Kirsty Schilling
    Miss Melissa Panetta Ms Hannah Watson  
2016 Mrs Janine Kerr Mrs Libby Kennedy Miss Melissa Panetta Miss Taylor-Paige Wilkie
    Ms Tahlia Winton Ms Sally Hederics  
2017 Mrs Janine Kerr Mrs Libby Kennedy Ms Sally Hederics Miss Melissa Panetta
    Miss Taylor-Paige Wilkie Miss Tahlia Winton