Pioneers

Laura Wilson

Laura Wilson (1901-1999) Cecchetti Council of America REMEMBERING LAURA WILSON - 1999 The Charter Members of the Cecchetti Council of America had the insight to bring the first generation Cecchetti teachers to guide us when we were first learning the Cecchetti principles. Laura Wilson was one of our very special teachers. Laura Wilson had a great influence on many of us in the United States. The Cecchetti Council of America invited her numerous times as a guest teacher in the 1960's. Several CCA teachers found Laura's teaching so valuable that they traveled to...

Helen Webb

Helen Webb (1882-1968) Robert Crompton's* former pupil Helen Webb arrived in South Africa in 1912 and introduced "fancy dancing" to Cape Town from 1913. As she was 30 at the time, one would assume she would have undertaken continued training as well as teaching in London before her departure, although there was no documented evidence to support that except for the registration of a Helen Webb in November 1912 as a member of the ISDT and living in Paddington, London. Webb jumped at the opportunity to join the staff of the South...

Peggy Van Praagh

MEMORIES OF EARLY DAYS Written by Brenda Hamlyn-Bencini My memory of Peggy van Praagh is still vivid in spite of the many years that have passed since I first met her. I shall start with the following small introduction to make a beginning for when she first came into my life. As a child I went to the Croydon branch of the Olive Ripman School of Dancing where I first learnt the Cecchetti method with Ms Lilian Thomas, until 1939 when war broke out. The school amalgamated with the Grace Cone School of...

Valrene Tweedie

Valrene Tweedie O.A.M. (1925-2008) The Cecchetti Organisation in Australia must count itself very fortunate to have had such an experienced member of the dance profession as one of its staunchest supporters and examiners as Valrene Tweedie. After early training during the mid 1930s at the Byrlakov - Lightfoot Circular Quay studios in Sydney she went onto study with Leon Kellaway, a former member of the Anna Pavlova Company before commencing to teach in Sydney. A gallery member at every performance of the visiting Colonel de Basil Ballet Russe in 1938-9 she was invited...

Margaret Saul

Margaret Saul (1902-1987) Margaret Saul was born in Dover, England, where her father had a dentist’s practice. She had one brother and one sister. Unusual in that era, she left home to pursue a career and studied classical ballet under Margaret Craske in her West Street studio in London. She was an exceptional dancer and although she had beautiful insteps, a very long big toe made pointe work impossible. Margaret took Advanced Cecchetti (now Maestro Cecchetti Diploma) and became an examiner for the Cecchetti Branch (now Faculty) of the Imperial Society of...

Lucie Saronova

Lucie Saronova (1900-1988) Madam Lucie Saronova was the founding organizer and first chairman of the Australian Cecchetti Society branch of the imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing; her term of office covering a record span of 37 years from 1934-1971. Born in Mill Bank, London, her associations with Australia go back to 1916 when she set sail for a 3 year tour of Australasia and the Far East with a company which revolved round the talents of English actress and variety star, Ada Reeves. Madam's future husband, Mr. Harry Jacobs, was the musical...

Mabel Ryan

Mabel Ryan, a South African, was born in Cape Town. She went overseas to study ballet and danced with the Pavlova Company. In the 1930s the Craske-Ryan School opened at 26 West Street, off Cambridge Circus, London, England. Both Margaret Craske and Mabel Ryan had been pupils of Cecchetti and were totally dedicated to his method and memory. The school became the world centre for the Cecchetti Method. Many famous dancers of the time, performing or residing in London attended the professional classes in the mornings that were taught by Margaret Craske,...

Nora Roche

Nora Roche (1906-1982) Born in London, England in 1906, Nora Roche first studied dancing with Dore Desnaux. As a student, she studied the Cecchetti method with Margaret Craske. From 1925 to 1939 she danced with the Carl Rosa Opera Company, becoming a soloist in 1932. From 1942 to 1952 she ran her own ballet school in London and also taught at the Rambert School for a number of years. In 1959, Ninette de Valois invited Miss Roche to join the staff of The Royal Ballet School at White Lodge. It was there, and...

Cecily Robinson

Cecily Robinson (1916-2003) After training as a pupil of Helen Webb, and more seriously with Helen B. White in Webb's studio Cecily Robinson decided it was time to learn more by going abroad herself, as was the custom to do amongst all serious students of ballet. In 1935 she studied in London with Marie Rambert, joined the London Ballet Club (forerunner of Ballet Rambert), the Woizikowsky Russian Ballet, and returned to Cape Town for eight months to teach for Helen Webb. During her second visit to Europe, she studied with Preobrajenska...

Betty Oliphant

Betty Oliphant (1918-2004) A true pioneer – so many dance related institutions thriving in Canada and elsewhere in the world today owe their beginnings and bear witness to the vision, dedication and genius of this remarkable lady. Nancy Elizabeth Oliphant was born on August 5, 1918 in London, of English and Scottish ancestry whose motto was 'seek higher things'. There was much sadness and pain in her life, however she spent a happy childhood in London and Scotland especially enjoying the outdoors. Her mother gave her a rich exposure to the London...