The Harold Turner and Gerd Larsen Collection

Scope and Content

This collection includes an extensive number of original photographic prints (1913 – c. 1951) by leading photographers, such as E.O. Hoppé, August Bert, J.W.Debenham, Gordon Anthony and Lenare. Many images are of Turner, and some are of Larsen, but there are a large number which feature dancers of the Diaghilev Ballets Russes and many English companies and dancers from the 1920s onwards. There is also a range of other material in the form of costume designs, music manuscripts, posters, news cuttings and programmes relating to Harold Turner and Gerd Larsen's careers as ballet dancers. The emphasis is on Turner’s career as a Principal dancer with the Vic-Wells Ballet (later Sadler’s Wells Ballet and The Royal Ballet) and the Ballet Club (later Ballet Rambert and Rambert Dance Company).

Costume designs found in this collection include a series of three designs by [Thomas] P. Lloyd for a production of The Bartered Bride (1935) and several unidentified costume designs. The series of music manuscripts includes The Blau (undated) for solo and orchestra by Anthony Collins; an orchestral score of Galop Russe (undated), possibly by Scznetski, and a manuscript of a dance band arrangement of the Cossack Dance (undated). It also contains a printed music score for ballet variations signed by Harold Turner and Rudolf Nureyev (undated).

Photographic series of prints featuring Turner and Larsen, individually or with different dance partners, in a number of ballets with the Vic-Wells Ballet, Ballet Club and other companies (c. 1927 – 1951). In particular, Turner is pictured with Ruth French in the Giselle pas de deux (undated), with Mary Honor in the Bluebird pas de deux (c. 1939) and with June Brae and Pamela May in Checkmate (c. 1937). Other ballets featured include Le Baiser de la fée, Barabau, La Boutique fantasque, Cleopatra, Façade, L’Après-midi d’un faune, Giselle, Job, Le Leçon apprise, Les Matelots, The Quest, Les Patineurs, The Rake's Progress, Les Rendezvous, The Sleeping Beauty, Les Sylphides, The Three-Cornered Hat and others.

There is an extensive series of original print photographs (many are inscribed to Harold Turner by their subjects) featuring prominent ballet dancers and artists from the 1920s to 1950s. They include Mary Honor, Ailne Phillips, Alexandra Danilova, Alexis Rassine, Alicia Markova, Avril Navarre, Constant Lambert, Diana Gould, Frederick Ashton, Harriet Hoctor, Jeanne Artois, Leila Russell, Louise Browne, Lydia Sokolova, Margaret Dale, Margot Fonteyn, Marie Rambert, Michael Somes, Moira Shearer, Moyra Fraser, Ninette de Valois, Pamela May, Pauline Clayden, Pearl Argyle, Ruth French, Stanislas Idzikowski, Tamara Karsavina, Vera Volkova, Violetta Elvin, Walter Gore, William Chappell and others. There are also several unattributed photographs taken during performances of Le Lac des Cygnes, The Sleeping Beauty and Les Sylphides (Sadler’s Wells Ballet, undated).

It also includes an album of studio photogravures from Studies from the Russian Ballet (1913) by E.O. Hoppé and August Bert: studio portraits of Tamara Karsavina, Vaslav Nijinsky and Adolph Bolm in ballets performed by the Diaghilev Ballets Russes between 1909 - 1913.

A scrapbook contains press cuttings mainly relating to Harold Turner and the Vic-Wells Ballet (November 1935 - June 1941). Illustrated articles relate to performances of ballets in which Harold Turner performed with the Sadler’s Wells Ballet, including Le Baiser de la fée, Barabau,Checkmate, The Gods Go A-Begging,Le Rois nu,Perseus,Serenade; also of The Sleeping Princess Gala Performance before Queen Mary at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (02/02/39). There are several items recording his work with the International Ballet, the Arts Theatre Ballet and Ballet Club. It contains press announcements of Turner's marriage to Mary Honor (1938). The scrapbook also contains a watercolour sketch of Harold Turner by Lindsay [first name unidentified] entitled 'Harold Turner in his Studio / Hampstead / Jan 1938'.

Ephemeral material includes a poster for the Association of Operatic Dancing performances at Crane Hall, Liverpool (23-24 October 1931); four programmes including A Christmas Season of Ballet by The Marie Rambert Dancers (1931); two programmes for The Sleeping Beauty by the Sadler's Wells Ballet at the Royal Opera House (20 February 1946 and 4 March 1946); also a souvenir programme for Edmund Russo's season for Anna Pavlova (undated).

Administrative / Biographical History

Harold Turner (1909-1962) was a British dancer and teacher. He studied in Manchester with Alfred Haines and danced in his company. He studied further with Marie Rambert from 1927 and appeared during the early years of British ballet with various groups and companies, including those of Anton Dolin, Tamara Karsavina and with The Marie Rambert Dancers, later Ballet Club. He created roles in Ashton's Les Petits Riens (1928) and Capriol Suite (1930). Turner was a brilliant technician, especially suited to virtuoso roles such as the Bluebird in The Sleeping Beauty. He appeared as a guest with the Sadler's Wells Ballet, joining the Company in 1935 as a Principal. Turner created roles in de Valois’ The Rake’s Progress (1935) and Checkmate (1937); also in Ashton's Le Baiser de la fée (1935), A Wedding Bouquet (1937) and Les Patineurs (1937), in which Ashton took full advantage of Turner’s dazzling spins and jumps for the role of the Blue Boy. He became a Principal of Inglesby’s International Ballet 1941-2/3, then re-joined the Sadler’s Wells Ballet after serving in the RAF during WWII. During his later career he became a notable demi-charactère performer, and enjoyed particular success in Massine's La Boutique fantasque (1947 revival) and The Three-Cornered Hat (1948 revival). After retiring from the stage in 1951 he joined the teaching staff of the Sadler's Wells School, and became the ballet master of the Covent Garden Opera Ballet. He was rehearsing for a return to the stage in Massine's The Good Humoured Ladies (1962 revival) when he died unexpectedly, while backstage at the Royal Opera House. He was married twice, first to the dancer Mary Honer and then to Gerd Larsen.

Gerd Larsen (1921-2001) was a British-Norwegian ballet dancer, teacher and ballet mistress. She studied with Margaret Craske and Antony Tudor, and danced with Tudor's London Ballet Company, creating the role of the French Ballerina in his Gala Performance (1938). She then danced with Ballet Rambert and Mona Inglesby’s International Ballet before joining the Sadler's Wells Ballet in 1944. She became a Soloist in 1954, and was later made a Principal mime artist [Character Artist] of The Royal Ballet. She created several key roles in the ballets of Kenneth MacMillan, including that of the Nurse in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (1965) and the Madame in Manon (1974). Larsen was for many years the Senior Ballet Mistress of The Royal Ballet. She was married to the dancer Harold Turner.

Access Information

This collection is open for consultation and can be viewed by appointment only. Please contact White Lodge Museum via our website at The Royal Ballet School, White Lodge Museum

Acquisition Information

Placed on permanent loan with The Royal Ballet School Collections by Gerd Larsen, date not recorded