The West Australian Ballet’s story began in 1952, when it was founded by Ballets Russes dancer Madame Kira Bousloff. Born in Monte Carlo in 1914, Bousloff studied ballet in Paris and her teachers included Alexander Volinine, who was the permanent dancing partner of Anna Pavlova from 1914–25. Bousloff arrived in Australia with the Covent Garden Russian Ballet in 1938, nine years after Pavlova herself had visited these shores and performed at His Majesty’s Theatre – the last working Edwardian theatre in the country and eventual home of the West Australian Ballet. With the outbreak of the Second World War, Bousloff decided to stay in Australia and performed in Melbourne with Laurel Martyn’s Ballet Guild and the National Theatre Ballet, before finally settling in Perth, which she considered the Australian answer to French Riviera.

Bousloff was a trailblazer in the history of ballet in this country. She famously hired a boatshed with water seeping through its floors to audition dancers for her fledgling company. Her vision was for a repertoire that drew upon Australian lore and the works...