Algeranoff in Melbourne

The dance interests of Harcourt Algernon Essex, better known simply as Algeranoff, were extraordinarily diverse. In the earlier years of his career, as he toured the world with companies that included that of Anna Pavlova, the Dandré-Levitoff Russian Ballet and the Ballets Russes companies of Colonel de Basil, he was forever watching, taking lessons in, and lecturing on the dance of the countries he visited. A lot of his research fed into a series of divertissements that he performed while on tour, as special demonstrations or simply as part of the regular company program, which in the case particularly of the Dandré-Levitoff company each night always included a selection of about ten divertissements across a range of dance styles.

But it seems that Algeranoff was also an interesting character off stage. During some recent research into the Dandré-Levitoff company I came across the following in the Melbourne magazine Table Talk, now long defunct, and would like to share it with others who may be as surprised and delighted as I was by the evocative and personal account of Algeranoff.

‘I used to be a little in awe of Algeranoff: to see him walking down the street in his corduroys, with a paisley handkerchief about his throat, another round the waist, his typewriter, sachel [sic] packed to bursting point with costumes and make-up, and his sandals, that reveal feet stained with some indelible Oriental dye, one could hardly imagine him to be what he is, a fresh and unaffected chap, with lots of humour, and—ssshhhh—an English accent’.

—from Table Talk, 20 December 1934. Find more resources on Algeranoff in Trove.

Algeranoff in one of his divertissements—The Faun. Photo by Gustav Thorlichen. National Library of Australia. Reproduced with permission

Michelle Potter, 15 July 2010

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