Vivien Talleur

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Vivien Talleur (b. Cheetham Hill, Manchester, 20/01/1881 - d. **/**/****) was a dancer, ballet mistress and choreographer.


Born Vivien Graham Vowles, Vivien Talleur was the second of seven daughters of Frank Vowles and Jeannie White and came from a musical family. She trained at the ballet school of Alexander Genée, is said to have toured with Diaghilev and appeared at the Empire in Nottingham as early as December 1900. In August 1904 she travelled to the United States and had small roles in the musicals The School Girl (1904) and The Catch of the Season (1905), both of which featured the American operatic baritone W. Talleur Andrews in a leading part. In 1905 they were married in Camden, New Jersey and she was to adopt his second name as her stage name.

Between 1906 and 1911 she and Talleur were both in a number of musical plays for George Edwardes' theatrical company, including The Little Michus, The Merveilleuses, The Merry Widow and The Girl in the Train, notably at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh and the Prince's Theatre in Bristol. In between she gave birth to their son, also William Talleur Andrews, on 11 April 1908. By 1912 both she and Talleur were in Australia, appearing in such works as The Count of Luxembourg and Autumn Manoeuvres, the latter featuring a romantic ballet arranged by her. She also became well known for demonstrating the then somewhat risqué tango, as well as other new dances, such as the turkey trot. She and Fred Reade performed at the popular Tivoli Theatre Tango Teas and their demonstrations were often followed by young women modelling new evening gowns and lingerie.

In July 1915 Vivian G. Andrews applied for a passport at the American Embassy in London, with the intention of travelling to South Africa. In fact, Talleur preceded her in 1915, but in early in 1917 she arrived in Johannesburg. Initially she was under contract with J.C. Williamson and appeared as a member of the London Gaiety Company at His Majesty's Theatre in such plays as Mr. Manhattan, The Red Widow and Theodore & Co, but later she was employed by the African Theatres Trust. She was not only in charge of the corps de ballet, but staged many of the musical numbers for their revues. She frequently performed in these shows, including Let's Go and The Pink Lady, and opened a studio of her own, first in a tearoom attached to His Majesty's, but later in the ballroom of the Carlton Hotel. She also organised an annual Christmas pantomine.

For African Film Productions she appeared in the film Bond and Word (Dick Cruikshanks/1918) in a not clearly identified role, as well as in H. Lisle Lucoque's version of King Solomon's Mines (1918), in which she played the witch Gagool. In July 1922, Variety reported that after six years in South Africa she was leaving for England, but presumably she changed her mind, for between 1926 and 1935 she was responsible for the choreography of 17 productions staged by the Johannesburg Operatic and Dramatic Society. At this stage it is not known what became of her after that. (FO)

(Note: According to FreeBMD her birth was registered in Prestwich as Violet Graham Vowles. Her baptism record gives her birthdate as 20/01/1881, but two passport applications declare it to be 30/01/1881.)


The Advertiser, Adelaide, 3 March 1914

The Daily News, Perth, 17 April 1914

Variety, 14 July 1922

Dommisse, Hermien - Long journey of the heart: a memoir

Grut, Marina - The history of ballet in South Africa

Le Roux, André I. & Fourie, Lilla – Filmverlede: geskiedenis van die Suid-Afrikaanse speelfilm

Racster, Olga - Curtain up!

Woolfson, Malcolm - But the melody lingers on

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