History

HistoryIn 1932 Eunice Weston first suggested introducing examinations of the Royal Academy of Dance into Australia. The next two years saw this small group work tirelessly to gain the support of a growing number of dance teachers and in 1935 the first Australian examination tour was organized. Felix Demery was appointed the visiting examiner and from May 1935 the five-week Grades and Majors examination tour took place.

At the end of his tour, Felix Demery conducted syllabus classes at the highly regarded Frances Scully Summer School attended by teachers from around Australia and New Zealand. At the same time the Australian Advisory Committee was formed under the chairmanship of Miss.

No examinations were then planned for Tasmania, but this would change in due course. In London in 1934, Joan Burnett, a student of Madame Espinosa, was awarded the first Adeline Genee Silver medal, retaining it in 1935. After a career dancing with the Markova/Dolin Ballet Company she was to come to Australia in 1940 to teach for Jennie Brenan before moving to Launceston and establishing the Academy in Tasmania.

Felix Demery returned to examine in 1937 appointing Frances Scully and Lorraine Norton as the Academy’s first children’s examiners in Australia and New Zealand. He awarded the first two Academy scholarships, the New South Wales and Queensland Scholarships, forerunners of the Australian Bursary. 1937 also saw Laurel Gill (now Laurel Martyn OBE), become the first Australian to be awarded the Adeline Genee Gold medal in London.

World War II impinged on the 1939 examination tour that brought Kathleen Danetree to Australia and New Zealand. Her eventful 1941 examination tour took five years. The restrictions and dangers involved in war-time travel forced Kathleen to remain in Australia for the duration of hostilities. She conducted annual examinations in Australia, and at great personal risk, boarded a small refugee boat bound for Cape Town to conduct an examining tour in South Africa. In 1946, once war had ceased in Europe and the Pacific, she flew back to her homeland. She later returned to Australia permanently with the commission to teach the children’s syllabus, Ballet in Education.

After Jennie Brenan’s retirement as Organiser and Chairman of the Australian Advisory Committee, and the great loss in 1951 of Frances Scully, Kathleen Danetree assumed responsibility as secretary of the Australian Advisory Committee and the Academy’s representative for Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia for the next five years. In 1956 Miss Danetree handed her role to Mr J.W. Douglass of Douglass and Gilder, the Academy’s accounting and auditing firm who, in turn passed on the intricacies of programming the examinations to his audit clerk, Sheila Stokes. Upon his resignation in 1966, Miss Stokes assumed the full-time position of Secretary, ultimately fulfilling a thirty-year role responsible for the Academy’s Australian activities.

Linley Wilson, Kathleen Danetree, Lorraine Norton and Phyllis Danaher, all of whom were appointed examiners, were each awarded a Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Dancing for their exceptional service to the Academy over many years. Lady Tait, Linley Wilson, Kathleen Danetree and Lorraine Norton were appointed to the Academy’s Grand Council. In acknowledgement of their dedication and achievements in the wider dance community, Kathleen Danetree was awarded an OBE, Phyllis Danaher an MBE and Linley Wilson and Joan Burnett de Vere each an OAM.