15 What happened to ballet dancer Otis Pearce?
Otis is the baby-faced man on the right, hiding behind a koala. The pic was taken in 1939 and Dolin, his male companion on the left, was listed as 5’7″ on a ship passenger list found by Misca .. many thanks.
“His first name was Otis. His second name was Pearce, or maybe Pierce, as his name was often spelt.
He is the mystery man of the second Ballets Russes’ tour to Australia, the friend and lover of Anton Dolin, the 20th century ballet dancer who was the first Englishman to establish a major career as a principal artist, and who formed dance partnerships with Irina Baronova and Alicia Markova.
Dolin was his stage name. His friends called him Pat, short for Patrick although his full name was Sydney Francis Patrick Chippendall Healey-Kay.
Trawling through a stack of Ballets Russes’ press clippings, books, cables, personnel lists, and photos, I’ve put together an incomplete profile of Pearce who was listed as “an accompanying person” on the 1938/39 tour, along with a handful of others who were the spouses or children of dancers, or managers or choreographers on the tour.
The basic facts are these: Pearce was a rich American, born in December 1912, very amusing, good company, much travelled, a fabulous party host, had a “sweet baby face” and drove a large black Buick.”
“The Ballets Russes’ tour ended in Adelaide but the principal artists, including Dolin, travelled back to Sydney for a midnight farewell performance at the Theatre Royal on 27 April, 1939.
Among the ballets performed was a scene from Swan Lake in which Pearce made his first, and possibly his last, stage appearance.
In his book on the Theatre Royal, Ian Bevan described Pearce’s role as “the gesturing but non dancing Evil Genius”.
Pearce’s name is listed in the program as “a dancer”.
Most of the principal artists, along with Pearce, sailed from Australia to Los Angeles on the luxury liner, the SS Monterey.
World War II was just over four months away.
Dolin’s days with de Basil’s Ballets Russes were over.
In 1940, in the United States, he joined the new company, Ballet Theatre (now American Ballet Theatre), where he remained until 1946.
What happened to Otis Pearce?”
Anton Dolin, Irina Baronova, Otis Pearce, Australia, 1938/39
bold is mine
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