In 1965, in South Africa, Spanish dance was,
for the first time ever codified into a teaching method, graded
according to age and ability. The Spanish Dance Society was
formed by senior teachers from Johannesburg, Cape Town and
Durban. At the suggestion of Ivy Conmee, an examiner for the
Royal Academy of Dance, a syllabus was created by founding
members Mercedes Molina, Rhoda Rivkind and Madame Gitanilla,
from Johannesburg, Mavis Becker, Deanna Blacher and Marina
Keet from Cape Town, and Theo Dantes and Bernie Lyle from
Durban. Later Enrique Segovia set the boys syllabus and other
professionals contributed to the development of the organisation.
The basic components of Spanish dance, including the existing
Escuela Bolera exercises and dances, were arranged into a
method to teach the technique of Spanish dancing.
The founders had all studied with reputable
Spanish teachers and/or performed with well-known Spanish
dance companies. They based the exercises on the work of these
teachers and set the standard as that needed in a Spanish
dance company. Thus the pupil is prepared with basic components
that comprise the dances. The technique is broken down into
castanet playing, steps, footwork, arm movements and various
different types of turns, which are taught progressively in
a series of seven graded junior levels and three senior levels,
each examination culminating in the presentation of two or
three dances of regional, classical or flamenco styles.There
is also a pure flamenco syllabus, if the dancer wishes to
study that exclusively. Most students follow both syllabi.
The ensuing three examinations for training a teacher are
comprised of knowledge of all the prior work, the theory and
historical background plus an understanding of the music,
dance psychology and anatomy. The final examination for teachers
also includes the Pericet Escuela Bolera syllabus and dances,
as codified by Marina Keet based on her classes with Eloy
Pericet in Madrid. Syllabus books, theory and recorded music
are available to accompany the syllabus.
This Spanish Dance Society has spread worldwide,
and at present is taught in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus,
Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Malta, Mexico, Russia, Singapore
South Africa, Thailand, the USA, the
and although it started outside Spain; it is now enthusiastically
taught there as well.
The aim of the Society, which has charitable,
non-profit status, is to promote interest in the art of Spanish
dance, pursuing excellence in presentation, execution and
Examinations are conducted annually in each
centre by external examiners. The Society provides free revision
classes in the main centres for the teachers after each examination
session, of which there are often two per year in some countries.
The Society's syllabus is used in degree courses in South
Africa and the USA. Recently the society has been accepted
onto the distance learning degree programme delivered by the
Royal Academy of Dance, validated by the University of Surrey.
Each year an international summer school is held in London,
with guest teachers from Spain and other countries. All types
of Spanish dance are offered and lecture/demonstrations with
guest artists are included. The teachers of the Spanish Dance
Society remain to participate in a stimulating course, to
revise the syllabus and learn new material.
For further information please contact:
The Executive Administrator Sherrill Wexler, 1 Blackett Close,
Staines, Middlesex TW18 3NW, tel/fax +44 (0) 1784 460419