The Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo in Australia

Amateur filmmaker Ewan Murray-Will captured unique and candid images of one of the world’s greatest dance companies. 

These films are from the Chesterman Collection at the NFSA, which includes 25 reels of colour and black-and-white 16mm film taken by Murray-Will between 1935 and 1940.

Murray-Will, a Sydney dermatologist, was reputedly a shy man but a select group of Ballets Russes dancers became like a family to him. His house at Bungan Beach was a weekend retreat for the dancers during their Sydney seasons.

It was also the setting for some of Murray-Will's slow-motion experiments with his hand-held camera as the dancers, often dressed in swimming costumes, performed improvised excerpts from their repertoire. He was also able to film impromptu scenes of the dancers relaxing.