Vienna's singular gift to the world of Dance is the Waltz. Ballet has never
really taken root the way it did in London, nor did it ever enjoy comparable
popularity. Yet there were some notable Austrian contributions to the art,
especially those linked with the names of Gertrud Bodenwieser and Crete
In Ballet for Two we brought an exhilarating dance programme, mainly of
waltz rhythms, to many a remote place- this in the 1950s, long before Sadler's
Wells ventured far into the provinces. Evelyn Ippen and Bettina Vernon, two
able and attractive ballerinas of the Bodenwieser school, were partnered by
that inimitable and infinitely accomplished Viennese pianist Marcel Lorber.
This modestly proportioned show, costumed and produced by Otto Diamant,
played to full houses and earned much praise and applause. In later years,
excerpts were included in our production of Die Fledermaus at the Royal Festival
Hall and elsewhere.
In 1953 we presented the Wiesenthal Ballet for a two week season at the
Princes Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue - a very major venture for the Society
in those early days. Six ballerinas from Vienna, in costumes by the Wiener werKstatte s leading designers and accompanied by a hardworking London
orchestra under Isy Geiger, brought the original choreography of the ballet's
founder, mainly to the music of the Strauss family, but also to some Mozart
and Schubert, and even Salmhofer and Schrecker. The London ballet critics
were sparing in their praise - but the public loved it and word-of-mouth
publicity soon filled the theatre.
Persistent attempts to bring the Volksoper with a full scale production of Viennese
operetta foundered on the enormous costs involved - but they led in the
Summer of 1969 to a visit of the Ballet of the Vienna Volksoper to the Royal
Festival Hall. Under the direction of Carl Nemeth, with Franz Bauer-TheussI
conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and some coloratura from the
Volksopcr's great English star Adeic Leigh, we had 16 splendid performances
of the very highlights of operetta ballet. This ballet season was made even
more of an occasion by John Denison, director of the Royal Festival Hal],
interrupting a performance to announce that the first man had just landed on
the moon... Orchestra and dancers broke intoJohann Strauss's Sphdrenklange.