DATE OF BIRTH: Sept. 10, 1926
PLACE OF BIRTH: San Francisco, CA, USA
ARRIVAL IN CANADA: 1961
EMPLOYMENT OTHER THAN WRITING: Librarian
June Roper, Ballet Star-Maker. Dance Collection Danse, 1999.
Dance Encounters. Dance Collection Danse, 1998
Dancing for de Basil: Letters to her Parents by Rosemary Deveson, 1938-1940/ Edited by Leland Windreich. Dance Collectino Danse, 1996.
[BCBW 2012] "Dance"
June Roper: Ballet Starmaker (Dance Collection $24.95)
Since he moved to Victoria in 1961, then resettled in Vancouver, the San Francisco-born historian and critic Leland Windreich has written hundreds of serious reviews and dancer profiles, many of which are available in Dance Encounters, published in 1998.
Windreich’s summation of the ‘Patricia Neary Affair’ at Ballet B.C., his recollections of Agnes de Mille, his review of Karen Jamieson’s Sisyphus and his tribute to Vancouver-trained Duncan Noble—to mention only four examples—are sufficiently clear to appeal to non-danceoholics.
“Most writers who have produced histories of Vancouver of the past few decades have tended to ignore the cultural institutions in the city,” Windreich claims.
While he notes that critics Michael Crabb, Max Wyman and James Neufeld have made June Roper’s presence known, he is also compensating for a dearth of serious arts coverage in the mainstream press with his June Roper: Ballet Starmaker (Dance Collection $24.95).
Having recorded extensive interviews with June Roper in 1979, Windreich has chronicled her Los Angeles beginnings, her glamourous dancing career in Europe and the United States and her eventual gravitation to Vancouver in 1934.
During the Depression the remarkable June Roper cajoled boys from breadlines and, in return for a meal, offered them an opportunity to lift pretty girls. One of her male dancers who didn’t require any such inducement was Ian Gibson, later dubbed the Canadian Nijinsky.
Gibson danced with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo from 1938 to 1940, then debuted in Ballet Theatre before he joined the Royal Canadian Navy. Gibson’s brief, four-year career is retrieved and dignified by Windreich, along with dozens of others who were indebted to June Roper as a teacher in the 1930s and 1940s. 0-929003-34-9
[BCBW AUTUMN 2000]
Dancing for de Basil (Danse Collection $26.95)
After a hurried midnight audition for Colonel de Basil's Ballet Russe Company in 1938, a young Vancouver ballerina's dancing dreams came true. Rosemary Deveson, 16 at the time, and Pat Meyers, another local dancer, were invited to join the renowned Russian company. “They will be great stars in the world of ballet,” Colonel de Basil said in The Vancouver Sun of February 4, 1938. “The perfection of their technique is absolutely phenomenal.” Deveson's name was immediately changed to Natasha Sobinova and she spent the next two and a half years touring and performing around the world. During this period she meticulously recorded her adventures in letters to her parents reprinted in Dancing for de Basil (Danse Collection $26.95), edited by Leland Windreich of Vancouver, a correspondent for the New York based Ballet Review. “Quite a lot of immorality in the company,” Deveson wrote home from Kansas in 1938, “Most of the bigger girls paired off with boys of the company. We suspected this but didn't believe it till we were told. Not very nice, is it!” Deveson soon adjusted and travelled with the international company around the globe until September of 1940. When an opportunity arose to lease the penthouse of the Georgia Hotel for a dancing school, she opened the Rosemary Deveson's Vancouver School of Dancing four months prior to her 20th birthday.
Deveson married twice, raised three daughters, taught professionals Lynn Seymour and Lois Smith, choreographed for Theatre Under the Stars and was honoured with her own sidewalk 'star' on Granville Street's Theatre Row in 1995. “This is a fascinating read for anyone contemplating life as a dancer in a large classical company,” says ballerina Karen Kain, “because, surprisingly, things are not all that different in 1996 than they were in 1938.”