Valrene, before the Ballets Russes

Last week, at the State Library of New South Wales, I discovered this sweet photograph of a very young Valrene Tweedie and Bernard Bloch who at the time- about 1937- billed himself, as a dancer, as “Mr Blochovitch”.
Valrene was born in Sydney in 1925 and began dancing at the Mischa Burlakov and Louise Lightfoot ballet school when she was about 8. Burlakov and Lightfoot also ran a company they called the First Australian Ballet which performed in charity concerts around Sydney in the 1930s. With Bernard Bloch, a son of Jacob Bloch, who founded the dance shoes and dance wear company, Valrene often performed Pavlova’s Gavotte, as pictured here with Bernard, preparing for a performance at the Phillip Park Open Air Theatre in Sydney in about 1937. Two years later, she successfully auditioned for the Original Ballet Russe, the third Ballets Russes company then visiting Australia.
Valrene has been in my mind lately as next June, the Australian Ballet will perform Stephen Baynes’ Requiem, a ballet in which she danced so memorably in her mid-70s.

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