A tribute to my mother. The story of my mother Lily and her relationship with The Original Ballet Russe

A tribute to my mother. The story of my mother Lily and her relationship with The Original Ballet Russe

My mother Lily danced as an extra with the Ballet Russe when it visited Adelaide in South Australia in 1940. Lily was then 18 years of age and her Ballet Company danced at the Theatre Royal. The director of the visiting Ballet Russe requested that my mother join the troupe as it was about to depart to the United States of America as part of its global tour. She declined this offer.

Instead, she elected to join the Australian land army [Australia was then at war with Germany] and helped manage a dairy farm near Naracoorte in South Australia. During this period my mother met a farmer’s son on an adjacent farm, and they subsequently married in 1942. You may see from this how destinies in life can take all sorts of unplanned twists and turns.

As a child of around eight years of age, I recall regularly playing 78 r.p.m records of ballet music as Lily continued to practice her ballet routines in a remote country farmhouse. The record player was a wind up one and the classical music that I can remember from those times were Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite and Chopin Les Sylphides. I have included the following videos as a memento of my mother.

Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite:

Chopin Les Sylphides:

I will now share with you some of the few residual records that exist from around those heady times in Lily’s life and this includes her relationship with the prestigious Ballet Russe.

if you are interested some of these remaining records and their associated references are as follows:

Touring schedule and other information “The Original Ballet Russe”, circa 1940 in Adelaide. This is the link to it.

Below: BBC News – Ballets Russes 1928 archive footage found in British Pathe archive

Below: Fragment of a Lost Mikhail Fokine Ballet – ‘Cendrillon’ (‘Cinderella’, 1938)

Below: Colonel Wassily de Basil – In The Street During The Original Ballet Russe Australian Tour (1939-40). Colonel Wassily de Basil was the founder of “The Original Ballet Russe”

Below: Ballet Russe touring Australia 1940

Below: Various photographs of Lily in her Ballet costume
Above: Lily probably preparing for the Russian ballet circa early 1940

Above: Lily at an unknown location circa 1938

Above: Lily in a ballet entitled “Maid of the Mountain” at the Theater Royal in Adelaide circa 1935