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Bernice Rehner Collection

Identifier: BRSCA-BR-001
The Bernice Rehner Collection contains many black and white photographs, some autographed by Ballet Russe dancers, correspondence with her family and other dancers, programs and souvenir programs, a diary, and other memorabilia. Rehner was the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) representative for part of the time she was with the company. The collection also contains records of some AGMA official business and correspondence


  • Majority of material found within 1933-2010


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

The Collections are available to researchers by appointment. To contact us, please go to and fill in the Inquiry Form, email or call 405/325-4051.

Conditions Governing Use

The Ballets Russes Special Collections and Archive holds the physical rights only to most materials. Researchers must secure written permission from the Archive to publish archival material. Researchers assume all responsibility for conforming to copyright laws and for correctly citing the source of the archival material.


7.26 Linear Feet (10 boxes, 2 flat file drawers)


Bernice Rehner danced with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo from 1946 to 1950. Her collection contains materials from that time and from earlier training and performing with George Balanchine.

Biographical / Historical

Bernice Rehner was born in Auburn, CA as Bernice Rechenmacher. Her parents sent her to private dance classes with Marion Hall White where she was taught acrobatics, tap dancing, and ballet once a week. When she was 18, her parents sent her to New York to study at the School of American Ballet. While studying there, she met Shirley Haynes who became friend, roommate, classmate, and fellow Ballet Russe member. Bernice was given the nickname Nichska at this time. While at the School, she appeared in works by modern dance choreographer Hanya Holm and by George Balanchine. She toured in student productions by Balanchine, including one to Mexico City and appeared in the first cast of Elegies, a work later taken into the New York City Ballet repertoire. She first performed with Ballet Russe in Le Baiser de la Fee, choreographed by Balanchine in February 1946. On June 1, 1946, she signed her first contract with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. On her first tour with the company she was “sort of taken in hand” by George Verdak and William Glenn. Because of this friendship, she began collecting Verdak’s “fat performer” art. A trained artist, Verdak often created his fat performers on the paper place mats at the restaurants where the dancers ate on tour. George gave Bernice the nickname “Miss Mae” On a vacation to visit family in Auburn in 1950, she met Walt Barnes. They married September 24, 1950 and Bernice retired from dance.

Rights Statement

Researchers assume all responsibility for conforming to copyright laws and for correctly citing the source of the archival material.
Bernice Rehner Collection
Initially inspected and housed by Jeri Smalley and Charlotte Hart. Arranged and described by Tara Davis in 2012. Site edited by Jakob Hertzel in 2015.
Description rules

Repository Details

Part of the Ballets Russes Special Collections and Archive Repository