Kristian Fredrikson design for the Indian Prince (detail) in 'Rose Adagio', West Australian Ballet 1971

Dance diary. January 2019

  • Robert O’Kell

Robert O’Kell danced with the Australian Ballet from 1962 to 1966 and then again in 1969. In 1971 he danced the role of the Indian Prince in a Rose Adagio staged by West Australian Ballet, which was the subject of an earlier post on this website. During a period of research at the National Library I chanced upon some designs by Kristian Fredrikson for this Rose Adagio, and a little later some material from Rex Reid, which identified O’Kell as the Indian Prince in this production. I am curious to know if O’Kell is still alive and if so how he can be contacted. If you can help I would love to hear from you via the comments box below.

  • Oral histories

In January I had the pleasure of recording two new oral histories for the National Library of Australia. The first was with Fiona Tonkin. It was part of a the Australia-China Council project, a collaborative venture between the Australia-China Council and the National Library of Australia to document the role of the Council in Australian cultural life. Tonkin had just joined the Australian Ballet when the company went to China in 1980 and she had some lovely anecdotes about that tour. The China experience was a part only of the interview, which was a ‘whole of life’ recording that now joins the National Library’s extensive archive of dance interviews.

My second interview in January was with renowned photographer Heide Smith. In the interview Smith recalled one of her earliest commissions after migrating to Australia in 1971 with her husband and two daughters—she was commissioned by the arts magazine The Entertainer to photograph various performers working in Sydney. It was the time when Margot Fonteyn was guesting with the Australian Ballet and Smith has, amongst her extensive archive, some beautiful images of Fonteyn and Garth Welch in costume for Raymonda, along with close-ups of each of them.

  • A new Anna Karenina

An article in a newspaper from the United States attracted my attention this morning. The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago (currently directed by former Australian Ballet dancer Ashley Wheater) will open a new production of Anna Karenina on 13 February 2019. It will have choreography by Yuri Possokhov, who is at present choreographer-in-residence at San Francisco Ballet. I was hugely impressed by Possokhov’s version of The Rite of Spring, which I saw several years ago, in 2013 to be exact. It is, unfortunately, the only one of his works that I have seen so far. But it seems that the Australian Ballet is splitting the cost of mounting the new Anna Karenina fifty-fifty with Joffrey. The Australian Ballet, or so the Chicago Tribune announced, will premiere the Possokhov Anna Karenina in Melbourne in May 2020. Something to anticipate?

  • Edna Busse

Edna Busse, ballerina with the Borovansky Ballet in its early days, died on 2 January 2019 aged 100. An obituary will follow later. Posts about Busse are at this tag.

  • Press for January 2019

‘Production brought to life for kids.’ Review of Storytime ballet. Coppélia. The Australian Ballet. The Canberra Times, 21 January 2019, p. 16. Online version

‘Another BOLD program for festival’. Preview of BOLD II, Canberra 13–17 March. The Canberra Times, 28 January 2019, p. 16. Online version

Michelle Potter, 31 January 2019

Featured image: Kristian Fredrikson, design for the Indian Prince (detail) in ‘Rose Adagio’, West Australian Ballet 1971

Kristian Fredrikson design for the Indian Prince (detail) in 'Rose Adagio', West Australian Ballet 1971

6 thoughts on “Dance diary. January 2019

  1. HI Michelle, I danced with Robert Okell from 1962-1965 when we were both in The Australian Ballet. I am pleased to let you know that he is alive and well. I have just spoken to him and he is happy for me to give you his telephone number, which is xxxx [removed for privacy reasons MP].
    Kind Regards
    Meg (Margaret) Akerman

  2. Hi Meg, Thank you so much. I will call him shortly. In the meantime I have removed the phone number from public view. Lovely to have this news!

  3. Robert Okell was my ballet teacher in Hobart in the 1970s I have our Ballet concert program and a ballet report Can send the photos etc Lyndy Andersch

  4. Hello Michelle! I had the privilege of meeting Bob O’Kell today, at my local bus stop in Geelong. I was waiting to catch the bus, then train to Melbourne to attend Anna Karenina at the Arts Centre. Bob & I were chatting about social distancing & the war & so I mentioned, on a lighter note, that I was off to the ballet & he was so thrilled & proceeded to tell me a bit of his story. It was such a wonderful encounter. I sent a message to my Mum in Fremantle straight away & she found this diary of yours. Mum mentioned that you were wondering if he was still around & I’ve just read the replies above. The ballet was wonderful, such impressive set, lighting & costumes PLUS an opera singer. It was VERY good to be back at the ballet & pretty special to have met Bob. A truly beautiful ballet day!

  5. Hi Kate, I am thrilled to hear your story about meeting Robert O’Kell. What a lovely man he is, so generous with his thoughts about ballet and his career. As for getting back to the ballet, I go to the Sydney season and am looking forward very much to Anna Karenina next month. And my thanks to your mother for passing on my posts!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *