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Murray-Will, Ewan: Ballet Russes (c.1936)


This amateur footage, filmed by Ewan Murray-Will, captures two solo dancers from the Ballets Russes du Monte Carlo dancing on a Sydney beach and a grassy slope.

Curator’s notes

Dr Ewan Murray-Will was a Sydney dermatologist and amateur filmmaker who used a hand-held 16 mm movie camera to document, sometimes in black and white, sometimes in colour, excerpts from the repertoire of the Ballets Russes who visited Australia between 1936 and 1940. Most of Murray-Will’s footage captures the company’s staged performances where he filmed from the wings. However, a small amount of footage such as this reveals more intimate and informal performances for the camera at Sydney’s northern Bungan Beach. Murray-Will had a beach house at Bungan Beach and dancers apparently gathered there on Sundays during their Sydney performance seasons.

Murray-Will’s films form part of the Chesterman Collection held at the National Film and Sound Archive. Murray-Will was the godfather to one of the Chesterman’s children, and they were close family friends. The Chesterman family donated Murray-Will’s films to the NFSA in the mid-1990s.