Gorham, Kathleen (1932–1983)

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Gorham, Kathleen (1932–1983)

Australian ballerina . Name variations: danced briefly under the name Ann Somers. Born in Sydney, Australia, in 1932; died on April 30, 1983; convent educated; studied ballet with Lorraine Norton and Leon Kellaway; married Robert Pomie (a dancer), around 1958 (divorced); married Barney Marrows; children: (first marriage) one son, Anthony.

Australian dancer Kathleen Gorham was born in Sydney in 1932 and began ballet lessons at age seven. At 15, she was invited by Edouard Borovansky to join his company in Melbourne. Despite occasional clashes with his pupil, Borovansky had a recurring role in shaping Gorham's career. She, in turn, remained devoted to him, believing that it was her duty to help him build Australian ballet.

Even as a youthful dancer, Gorham possessed a remarkable versatility, dancing dramatic, lyrical, and comic roles with equal success. When the Borovansky Company disbanded in 1948, she joined the Ballet Rambert, which was touring Australia at the time. In 1951, after appearing as a soloist with the Roland Petit Company in Paris and performing with the Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet, she rejoined Borovansky's new company. During the 1951–52 season, she performed for the first time in Giselle, the role for which she is best remembered in Australia. She also created several new roles before the company once again folded. She then danced a season with the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas in Paris and did another brief stint with Sadler's Wells. From 1954 to 1961, she danced with yet a third Borovansky company, creating new roles and performing principal roles in the classical ballets. After her marriage to Robert Pomie, a French dancer who joined the company in 1957, she retired briefly for the birth of her son. For a short period in 1959, Gorham and her husband worked to establish the Ballet Theatre le Francais in Sydney, but rejoined Borovansky for the 1959–60 season, the final one before his death.

In 1962, after some time in Europe, Gorham became prima ballerina of the newly formed Australian Ballet, where she played a significant role in the artistic development of the fledgling company. With Robert Helpmann (whom she called her favorite director), she created several new roles before retiring in 1966, just after the first overseas tour of the company. She spent her later years teaching in Melbourne and Southport, Queensland, and died in April 1983.


Radi, Heather, ed. 200 Australian Women. NSW, Australia: Women's Redress Press, 1988.