Edouard Borovansky 1902-1959

Edouard Borovansky

Edouard Borovansky

The son of a railway clerk, Eduard Josef Skeek was born at Perov in Czechoslovakia on 24 February 1902.

At the age of 25 he auditioned for the legendary Anna Pavlova, and was accepted as a junior member of her company.

 

‘A dinkum bloody Aussie’

‘I made friends with many members of the Covent Garden Ballet,’ reminisced Claude Kingston,
a senior administrator with the entrepreneurs J.C. Williamson’s, ‘and found none whom I liked better than a Czech named Edouard Borovansky. Thickset and of medium height, he was in his late thirties but still a fine dancer. I had long believed that Australia should have a national ballet but I had never met anybody both willing and able to create it. Then as we travelled through Australia and New Zealand and I came to know Borovansky well, I began to wonder if I had found the right man. He was highly strung and not only a tremendous worker himself but endowed with a gift of getting other people to work together on stage. He was also businesslike; you could talk practical sense to him. Above all, the ballet was his religion, something he believed in with all his heart and soul. Then there was his wife, Xenia, who had danced with several famous European companies but was too tall ever to become a great ballerina and had turned to teaching. Feeling that she and her husband would be the very people for Australia, I took courage and sowed the seed. How wonderful it would be, I kept telling Borovansky, if someone would develop a ballet company in Australia – someone like him. At first he shrugged the idea aside. ‘No, no, no,’ he said; he had his career to think of, he wanted to go back to Europe. But he must have kept turning my suggestion over in his mind because one day he agreed to talk about it. I took him to see Frank Tait. They had a long talk and Borovansky came away from the interview knowing he could count on the help of “The Firm”. Thus an Australian professional ballet was born. What they accomplished, by taking a number of talented but raw young people and moulding them into the Borovansky Australian Ballet, is already a fading memory.’

The son of a railway clerk, Eduard Josef Skeek was born at Perov in Czechoslovakia on 24 February 1902. On leaving school he worked as an accountant and served for a while in the Slovakian air force. In 1923 he joined the Prague National Theatre where he was trained in dance by Augustin Berger. On his holidays he travelled to Paris to study with Olga Preobrajenska and Lubov Egorova. At the age of 25 he auditioned for the legendary Anna Pavlova, and was accepted as a junior member of her company. There, most of his new colleagues had Russian names, so Sk?e?ek ‘borrowed’ the name of uncle and adjusted it to ‘Borowanski’, inserting an ‘o’ into his first name for good measure.

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Photograph courtesy National Library of Australia vn3327136

Biographical references

Allan Aldous: Theatre in Australia, Cheshire, 1947
Robin Grove: ‘Edouard Borovansky’, in Australian Dictionary of Biography, volume 13. Melbourne University Press
Claude Kingston: It Don’t Seem a Day Too Much, Rigby, 1971
Barry Kitcher: From Gaolbird to Lyrebird, Front Page, 2001
Norman MacGeorge: Borovansky Ballet, Cheshire, 1946
Edward  H. Pask: Ballet in Australia, Oxford University Press, 1982
Edward  H. Pask: Enter the Colonies Dancing, Oxford University Press, 1979
Frank Salter: Borovansky, Wildcat Press, 1980