Ballet Russes in Australia: Performing on the beach (c.1939)

Ballet Russes in Australia: Performing on the beach (c.1939)
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This unique and candid home movie footage of members of the Ballets Russes company was taken at Sydney’s Bungan Beach in the late 1930s.

Wearing what looks to be Christmas decorations around her neck, a female dancer, crouched on a rock, alerts her sleeping friend to something out to sea. A man carrying an unconscious woman emerges from the waves. He tries to revive her, but unsuccessful, goes to get help. He welters under the heat and collapses. Meanwhile, the woman regains consciousness and after looking for the man, heads over to the rocks where the crouching enemy awaits to capture her. He springs out from the cover of the rocks, grabs her and carries her away.

While not exactly demonstrating their extraordinary dance abilities, this clip does show a light, unhindered side to members of the Ballets Russes. Semi-rehearsed (and possibly a scene from one of their performed ballets), this clip is playful and provides a glimpse of some of the ways in which the dancers relaxed and had fun while taking a break at Murray-Will’s Bungan Beach holiday house. This is also an example of Murray-Will’s use of editing and framing of shots. He breaks up the scenario into a number of shots, and has edited them together.

Poppy De Souza