Valentin Zeglovsky update

Following my earlier post about Zeglovsky, a clearer picture has emerged of his life in Australia and the United Kingdom.

And not only his life, but that of his wife, Pamela Bromley-Smith who appears to be the dancer he is partnering in the photo, (below,left).

Bob Meade – a reader of dancelines who likes to follow trails to identify people in old photos – has found a Leo Zeglovskis in the UK and contacted him on twitter, asking him to check the photos of Zeglovsky with the blonde woman which accompany my previous post on 12 November.

Leo replied (again on twitter) that they were his mother, but I hope that we can follow up this brief response with confirmation of the family connections through more conventional methods.

It seems likely that Valentin Zeglovsky and Pamela Bromley-Smith had three sons, Mark, Paul and Leo, whose memories of their father, and his life as a dancer or teacher in the UK, would make interesting reading.

To recap, Zeglovsky was a dancer with de Basil’s Ballets Russes who came on tour to Australia in 1938.

He remained in Australia where he danced with the ballet companies of Kirsova and Borovansky.

When he applied for naturalisation in 1945, Zeglovsky wrote on his statutory declaration: “At present I am teaching”.

He gave his postal address as c/- Theatre Royal, Sydney, and listed one of his referees as K.C. Winchcombe of Point Piper.

Winchcombe, a woolbroker, was a member of the Ballet and Theatre Club in Sydney.

In 1944, for an exhibition at Cowell’s White House, George Street, he lent a painting for the annual Art for the Ballet and Dance exhibition.

Or rather he lent it on behalf of a friend. The work was Benois’ design for a coachman in PĂ©trouchka, owned by another woolbroker, Geoffrey Lempriere, who was then a prisoner of war in Japan.

Lempriere eventually settled in Tasmania where he became State president of the Liberal Party, a member of the party’s federal executive, and president of the Tasmanian Arts Council.

Other members of Sydney society who lent their ballet artworks for the exhibition included the Blaxlands, Barbara Knox, and Jessie Edye, the wife of the distinguished surgeon (and balletomane), Dr Ben Edye.

So, Zeglovsky had friends who moved in influential circles.

A government report on his application for naturalisation stated that in 1943 he had been employed as a cement worker at the Captain Cook Graving Dock and that he was also “a fully- qualified diamond tool setter”, two occupations far removed from both the stage and the social circles of Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

Thanks to some further research by Robert Woodley at the Mitchell Library, we also know more about Pamela’s connections with the theatre.

An Ivor Bromley-Smith – surely an older relative, her father or uncle – was a well known actor at Doris Fitton’s Independent Theatre in the 1940s and it was the Independent that sponsored Pamela in her bid to become Miss New South Wales in 1947.

The State Library of NSW has photographs of Ivor in the plays Mourning becomes Elektra and Bonaventure.

Zeglovsky registered as a citizen of the United Kingdom in October 1954. His wife continued to appear in stage shows but the mystery remains, for the time being, of Zeglovsky’s career from the 1950s onwards.

One Comment

  1. Bob Meade
    Posted December 3, 2011 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    Valerie, I think it is also interesting to note that Bromley-Smith is a very rare last name in New South Wales, and indeed Australia. Bromley is rare too.

    On that basis, and with the showbiz angle I agree that there is likely a connection between the two people. I also wonder if it is an adopted last name by both people. It is very difficult to find any trace of Bromley-Smith in Australia over the past 100 years except for Pamela and Ivor.

    More speculation: Will we find that Pamela is or was of a Russian speaking background?

    An enigma wrapped in a mystery.

    I’m dying to find out what else you learn.

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Valentin Zeglovsky's statutory declaration accompanying his application for naturalisation ,1945

Valentin Zeglovsky’s statutory declaration accompanying his application for naturalisation ,1945

Valentin Zeglovsky and Pamela Bromley-Smith

Valentin Zeglovsky and Pamela Bromley-Smith, photo © Max Dupain, courtesy Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW, ON247/703