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Page 3                                                                                                   

CHAPTER 1

 

 NEW ZEALAND

 

      ‘Ballet Reaches Height of Perfection’ read the headline. Two days previously, on 22 December 1951, the Borovansky Ballet had presented the Australian premiere of Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Sleeping Princess at His Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne. Frank Doherty, the theatre critic of The Argus, claimed that the company reached the height of its career with its ‘well nigh faultless performance’. He made special mention of:

 

… Peggy Sager, who danced Princess Aurora.  Not during this season has she danced as brilliantly … especially in the three enchanting solos in Act I and in the pas de deux with Miro Zloch (the Prince) in Act III.  Here were delicacy and grace, the type of apparently effortless dancing that is the hallmark of a polished artist. Several times she was interrupted with spontaneous applause even as she was dancing.

 

This was but another step in a dancing career that had begun 22 years earlier, when a group of five-year-olds, dressed as policemen with tall black helmets and long truncheons, danced at a Christmas concert.

 

                                                                     *   *   *

Page 11

CHAPTER 2

 

THE KIRSOVA YEARS

 

Rejection

 

‘I’m sorry. I can’t take you. You are too short.’

      Peggy stood there, stunned. She had come all the way to Australia to join the Kirsova Ballet. Madam Kirsova was now rejecting her because of her height. True, she was only 4 feet 10 inches (147 cms) tall, but she was still growing. ‘I am not giving up’, the teenager said to her mother after the audition.  ‘All I want to do is dance. Nothing will stop me becoming a ballerina.’

      On arrival in Sydney, Peggy had begun classes at the Frances Scully Ballet School in Angel Place. Kirsova needed dancers for her corps de ballet for a forthcoming season at the Minerva Theatre.  Most of the students at her ballet school were still novices. She therefore turned to Frances Scully as an immediate source of advanced dancers. Frances Scully presented sixteen girls from her school for audition. Peggy was among the eight Kirsova rejected.

      Fate stepped in. J C Williamsons offered a part in a musical comedy to one of Kirsova’s new recruits and she accepted. Kirsova reasoned that it would be cheaper to cut down that girl’s costumes to fit Peggy, rather than make new costumes for a larger dancer. She therefore contacted Peggy and accepted her into the Kirsova Ballet.