The links to dance’s past

One of the best things about writing dancelines has been the new connections to people who knew the dancers and various artists of the past.

In recent days, three posts on dancelines have been the subject of comments by a student of Valentin Zeglovsky, the daughter of friends of Beth Dean and, through her friend, Marilyn Ashmead Craig, the daughter of the artist, Cecil Waller.

Debbie Gater wrote: “So interested to hear about Mr Zeglovsky after all these years. I was his pupil from 1970-1973 and owe everything to him.

“I was not very well trained at all when I first went to him and he was marvellous to me (giving me lessons for a much lower fee as he knew I was from a poor background) and gave me a wonderful foundation. Had it not been for his wonderful teaching I doubt I would ever have danced professionally.

“I will never forget him or his wonderful classes”.

Nikki Stern remembered Beth Dean as “a fine woman and dear friend to my parents, especially my mother, (Dory Stern) from their time together in the Bodenwieser Dance Company. I have many fond memories of Beth (and Victor) on their many visits – her American drawl, her animation, her sense of humour and generosity of spirit. She was an outstanding dancer and innovator, and has made a great contribution to dance in Australia. Vale Beth”.

From Marilyn Ashmead Craig, a close friend of Cecil Waller’s daughter, Elizabeth, are many fascinating comments about her father’s drawings of Ballets Russes’ dancers, among them:

“Cecil’s daughter Elizabeth has confirmed that the drawings were indeed “done from life and not from photographs”. That was how Cecil always worked.

“One of his and wife Amy’s many artistic activities was scene painting and in 1932 they were restoring some of Ballets Russes’ famous stage sets in London. This was how they got to know the dancers.

“It helped that Cecil spoke some Russian and French. He may have done the drawings backstage.

“Elizabeth still has a tiny wooden Russian box given to her parents by Leonide Massine, by then choreographer and male lead dancer.

“After buying the country cottage, Cecil and Amy often stayed in London and remained part of the exciting Arts scene there. They also knew painters and musicians in the Post-War era. Elizabeth was regaled with stories of earlier years and later met many artistes herself, in London or at the cottage”.

These comments, and others from both friends and strangers alike, are so welcome.

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