James Penberthy & Kira Bousloff
Dates: 06/06/2012 - 16/06/2012
Location: Studio Underground STCWA
by John Aitken
Presented by Janus Entertainment
This production is proudly supported by the City of Perth through their Cultural Sponsorship Program
Janus Entertainment is proud to be a partner of The City of Perth Winter Arts Season
Madame Ballet, a new play by John Aitken, will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the West Australian Ballet Company.
The drama references the life and times of founder Madame Kira Bousloff as she journeys from Monte Carlo, Paris, London and Rio to establish herself (or cast herself adrift as she once put it) and build a young ballet company in the wilds of Western Australia. Charming, vivacious, bird-like and tenacious as she directs her young dancers as they perform on wooden planks placed on forty-four gallon drums in the North West of Australia, she is swamped by memories of the past. Pavlova and her partner, Nijinsky, the Ballet Russes, all steeped in the music of Boridin, Stravinksky and Ravel. How can she replicate all that on planks in the Kimberley? And then she meets young composer James Pemberthy, dashing and persistent. He seduces her with his music and his ideas. They will work together creating great ballets but telling Australian stories – The Beach Inspector and the Mermaid, The Fire at Ross’s Farm and Koree and the Mists. Kira is finally convinced.
A dominant image – Kira and her new husband James are dancing on a warm tropical evening in the Kimberley. The moon illuminates mud flats. They’ve been drinking champagne. The music is by James Pemberthy.
Madame Ballet is a romantic drama steeped in music and touched with piquancy. At times Kira longs for the past as she battles financial crises, voracious theatre managers and baffled and baffling town councillors as she strives to create her ballet company, an exotic flower in a strange new environment.
Directed & Designed by John Senczuk
Starring Alinta Carroll (Kira Bousloff), Andrew Southern (James Penberthy) with Murray Dowsett, Michael Becker, Justina Truscott (nee Smith) and Alysha McGreevy
"Pair's Leap of Faith" Ron Banks, The West Australian
Melissa Leo, The West Australian MADAME BALLET
"Bousloff causes a stir" Stephen Bevis, The West Australian
Despite a number of points being successfully refuted, Mr Hough has chosen not to achknowledge, nor engage in any further debate, on the issues that he himself initiated. JS
The producer acknowledges that "Madame Ballet" is the original title of an article by Ffion Murphy about Kira Bousloff and James Penberthy which was published in 2002 in a special issue of Brolga: An Australian Journal about Dance to mark the 50th anniversary of West Australian Ballet.
... This world premiere by award-winning writer, John Aitken, is an intriguing work of fiction - based on historical facts – that helps to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the West Australian Ballet Company. ...
This play has an abundance of humour blended into the informative and intriguing story. There is a great of romance, passion for the arts, coupled with a brutal drive all built into the multifaceted character of Kira; however, Alinta Carroll, with John Senczuk’s action-filled direction, conquers the complex mind giving a wonderful performance. Equity Award winning Alinta has proved her beautiful singing skills many times, and here she shows her talent at ballet. Her sylph-like figure produced the most delicate movements whilst her mind delivered the often uncaring and stubborn attitude, of a woman determined to achieve success. A complex and demanding performance carried off with skill.
The whole cast have top class training and experience credentials, and this showed as the solidarity and fellowship of the team of yesteryear became reflected in the teamwork of today.
Most of the action takes place either in the wings of the theatre, or in the rehearsal area. The set was fairly simple, but Ian Boase’s clever lighting and Kristy Armstrong’s delightful, well researched costumes of the day, gave a genuine and charismatic feel for the period. Jangoo Chapkhana’s musical arrangements were charming and his piano accompaniment lively.
It was obvious that there were many groups of retired ballerinas and dancers in the audience who just loved the ‘in’ jokes of the script, as they relived the atmosphere of their days on the stage.
Although a WA based story, this play would be very much appreciated by audiences anywhere in Australia, as the public attitudes and political history of only 60 years ago seem so unbelievable today. Yet another resounding success for the Senczuk / Aitken team.
Gordon The Optom, Australian Stage on Line
Kira Abricossova was born in Monte Carlo to Russian parents who had been exiled in France at the outbreak of World War I. She was the thirteenth child of Anna and Alexei Abricossoff, fine confectionary manufacturers, and she grew up in France - in Monte Carlo, Nice, Biarritz and Paris - and took classes in Paris from Russian emigre ballerinas who had left their homeland as a result of the war and the Russian Revolution. Her teachers included Mathilde Kchessinska and Olga Preobrajenska and, as well, Pavlova's partner, Alexander Volinine. Abricossova's first professional engagement as a dancer was with the company of Paris Opera Ballet teacher Leo Staats who took a small company to South America around 1930. In 1932 she joined another small company financed by Ida Rubinstein and directed by Bronislava Nijinska. When that company folded in 1934 she successfully auditioned for Colonel de Basil's Ballets Russes. Russian-born dancer Serge Bousloff, whom Abricossova had met in Monte Carlo and had married in London in 1934, also successfully auditioned for de Basil that same year and together they toured with his company in Europe and America.
As Kira Abricossova she came to Australia in 1938 as a member of the Covent Garden Russian Ballet. With Serge Bousloff and a number of other dancers she remained in Australia at the end of the tour in 1939. In Australia she assumed the name Kira Bousloff, by which she was known for the rest of her life despite a divorce and another marriage. In Australia she danced with Laurel Martyn's Ballet Guild and the Melbourne-based National Theatre Ballet. For those two companies she remounted some the ballets she knew from her time with the Ballets Russes, including Le Carnaval, Prince Igor, Protee and Scheherazade. She also created some works of her own including the Russian inspired Prasnik.
She moved to Perth in 1952 and with composer James Penberthy, who in 1961 officially became her second husband, established West Australian Ballet. The company gave its first performance to packed houses in July 1953. Bousloff and Penberthy collaborated on many productions with Australian themes including The Beach Inspector and the Mermaid in 1958, Kooree and the Mists in 1960, and Fire at Ross's Farm in 1961. Bousloff retired as director in 1969 when the company received its first government support but continued to teach until her death in 2001. She was the recipient of an Australia Dance Award for lifetime achievement in 2000.