Kevin Cody

Rosalie, Alva story to be retold through estate sale memorabilia

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Shortly before the start of World War II, Rosalie and Alva married and became dancing partners so they could work together. Photo courtesy of Alva’s Dance.

The legendary ballet dancer Bronislava Nijinska expressed astonishment at Alva’s leaping ability. Photo courtesy of Alva’s Dance.

by Kevin Cody

Imagine “La La Land,” but with a true Hollywood ending. Instead of the two young, starstruck lovers going their separate ways, they stay together and live happily ever after. That’s the true story told in the documentary “Dancing Hearts: The Rosalie and Alva Story,” directed and filmed by Allan Kaufman.

The Rosalie and Alva story will be retold this month, in a different format, through the estate sale of costumes, photographs and movie and dance memorabilia the Rancho Palos Verdes couple  collected during their Hollywood years and during the half century they taught dance at the Rosalie & Alva School of Ballet and Allied Arts in San Pedro.

Rosalie died in 2011, at age 88 and Alva in 2015, at age 99.

Rosalie Ann Figge was born in 1922 in Boonville Missouri, where she took dance lessons at Laura Estelle Myer Studio of Dancing and Dramatics until she was 10 when her family moved to Los Angeles. She went on her first movie audition when she was 15 and on the strength of her ballet training, earned a dancing role in “Balalaika,” staring Ilona Massey and Eddie Nelson

“All the gorgeous girls at the documentary could barely walk across the stage,” she says in the documentary, made shortly before her death. Between movie roles, she danced with the San Francisco Ballet and other leading west coast ballet troupes.

Tomislav Lincir Bradonovich, who went by the name Alva, was born in Vis, an Island off Croatia in 1915. When he was 9, his mother took him and his sister to Chile and when he was 16 to Los Angeles. He became a lifeguard, a model for Maybelline and Max Factor and then a movie actor and dancer. He appeared with Ronald Reagan in “International Squadron,” and dozens of other Paramount and RKO photos.

The couple met shortly before the start of World War II and formed the Rosalie and Alva dance team so they could work together. In addition to film work, they continued to dance with leading ballet companies. Ballet legend Bronislava Nijinska expressed amazement at Alva’s leaping ability. With the advent of television, the couple danced regularly on the Spade Cooley show.

The couple, who danced throughout Europe and South America, opened their dance studio in San Pedro in 1952 San Pedro so they could stay home with their three sons. The unexpectedly high level of their annual student performances attracted dance admirers from across the region.

The estate sale begins Thursday, Dec. 21 and continues daily, except Christmas, through Monday, January 1. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Assistance League. Hours are noon to 4 p.m. The Rosalie & Alva dance studio is at 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro. For more information call (310) 519-1314.

“Dancing Hearts: The Rosalie and Alva Story,” may be viewed on


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