Creation of the Borovansky Syllabus

Czech-born Edouard Borovansky first came to Australia in 1929 with the company of the famous ballerina Anna Pavlova. He returned in 1938 with the Ballets Russes Company called, at that time, The Covent Garden Russian Ballet and was accompanied by his Russian born wife; Xenia, who was also a member of the Ballet Russes. With the outbreak of war in their homeland, the Borovanskys decided to remain in Australia.

During their tour, the Ballet Russes displayed styles and techniques of dance that were not being taught in Australia, and the Borovanskys soon realised that Australians were keen to learn these styles and techniques. Edouard Borovansky had an idea to start a ballet school where Xenia’s marvellous teaching skills could be utilised, and with the hope of eventually forming an Australian ballet company.

Xenia Borovansky c1930s

Lynette Mirams with students about to sit their Exams

The Borovansky Academy of Russian Ballet opened its studios in Melbourne in 1939 and eager young ballet students and ballet lovers flocked to them to learn. Xenia was the central pillar of classical ballet teaching, passing on the technique and style in which she had been trained in Russia.

The ‘Borovansky Ballet Company’ was formed and gave its first performance in 1940. The company used mainly Australian trained dancers from Madam Borovansky’s school, with featured artists from Europe to inspire the local talent. The death of Edouard Borovansky in 1959 saw the closure of his company, but many of his dancers formed the core of a new company; the Australian Ballet Company, which first performed in 1962..

As Xenia’s interest was in teaching dancers and developing the techniques required to produce top dancers, she chose to maintain the school in Melbourne and eventually decided to develop an Australian system for teaching ballet, based on her own Russian schooling. The ‘Australian Academy of Dancing’ was created after Xenia had meetings with contemporaries to devise a syllabus from Preliminary to Advanced levels. The main contributors were: Madam Xenia Borovansky, Edna Busse, Janina Cuinovas and Paul Fibigs.

The first series of examinations were held in 1967 with Madam Borovansky as the examiner. Xenia wanted her syllabus to be administered and examined within Australia, and that is how it remains today.

Borovansky New Teacher Seminar - February 2020 - Newcastle

Borovansky Syllabus and the AICD

There had been a strong connection of the Borovansky method and the Australian Institute of Classical Dance Inc., since the Institute’s inception in 1991, and plans were soon developed to allow the syllabus to come under the umbrella of the AICD The Australian Academy of Dancing Syllabus; which had undergone many name changes, break-away groups and mergers, officially amalgamated with the AICD in 1992 and in recognition of its founder was renamed the ‘Borovansky Syllabus’.

Under the AICD, new music was recorded and the syllabus was published into books. Regularly updated, this Borovansky examination syllabus was revised by a panel of examiners and teachers in 1997, 2004 and in January 2012, the Character work was updated in 2018 and a further update to the syllabus is currently underway.

Adapted from a compilation written by Marilyn Schumack.

Philosophy of the Borovansky Syllabus

The general philosophy of Xenia Borovansky and the original syllabus panel has been retained over the years, through several reviews and updates.

This philosophy includes the following premises:

  • The syllabus has always been an examination syllabus rather than a training method and should be regarded separately from the work covered in general non-syllabus ballet classes. This encourages all-round expertise of both the teacher and the student.
  • The creation of enchaînements early in the syllabus, rather than separately presented steps, is to show each step, in context. This engenders appropriate dynamics and a fluid style.
  • The exclusion from the syllabus of specific port de bras and embellishments is to allow each teacher to express a personal style. This encourages artistry.

Aims of the Borovansky Syllabus

The Borovansky syllabus aims to foster and develop a love of dance and an awareness of ballet as a performing art in both the recreational and vocational student. Students are offered grades which are appropriate to their individual level of physical development and ability. Technical difficulty increases gradationally. Dance quality, style, expressiveness and musicality are encouraged from the beginning, and are progressively developed. Character dance steps are integrated into the syllabus, reflecting the syllabus’ heritage in the Borovansky Ballet Company, famed for its wholehearted vigorous approach to national dance

Examinations and Assessments

Examination and/or Assessment sessions for The Borovansky syllabus are conducted each year in each state of Australia using an out-of-state examiner. In extenuating circumstances, an in-state examiner may be used.

The Borovansky Syllabus encompasses all levels from Pre-Primary to Solo Seal. In order to teach this syllabus, you must be a registered teacher with the AICD (please refer to ‘Teacher Accreditation with the AICD’)

For more information on the Borovansky Syllabus please contact the AICD Artistic Director; Kathleen Hamilton.

Australian Institute of Classical Dance

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top