From Lyndall Thomas (Beatty) Ed. Co-conspirator with John in producing this website.
While building this web site I found the history section to be a revelation. I was at Charters Towers between 1951 and 1956. It was a small school at that time but already had a very good name. When major exam girls went up to the RAD we would inform the other examinees present (slightly smugly, probably) that we were from Bush Davies. This produced an expression of much relief on their faces knowing they would not be having Miss Bush as their examiner. She must have had a strict reputation.
Miss Bush was a wonderful choreographer. Besides her beautiful ensemble creations I remember the delightful variations she made for individual pupils for our shows in the hall. Most notably the ‘Good Fairies' and the ‘Bad Fairies' for Cinderella and the 6 or 7 character cat dances for Puss in Boots. Looking through the old programmes provided by Heather Mann, (Ed. See Your Space : M) I see that Paul wrote two songs for one of our shows. I had forgotten this completely but the titles ring a bell.
We were well looked after and Mr Leopold was an excellent head master. We would often see him walking back and forth across the hall to his office – always in good humour - followed by Kismet the Yorkshire terrier who was a great character. I think he was Jane's dog originally. One term Miss Bush asked all the major exam girls to return to school a week early as she was so worried that we would go ‘backwards' during the holidays. I don't think our parents were charged for this.
I have two abiding memories of my time there.
1. In 1955 a contingent of students went up to the Criterion Theatre to support our entrant, Cynthia Boyd for the Genée Medal. I shall never forget the combined intake of breath through gritted teeth that resounded around the theatre from us all when the heel of Cynthia's pointe shoe slipped off during her ‘variation'. However, despite her faux pas, she won the Silver Medal – well it was the year that Brenda Last decided to take part! Teddy Green from Romford won the Men's Silver so it was a good year for Bush Davies. Cynthia is going to write her own account of this saga in Your Space.
2. In 1956 the Bolshoi Company came to London for the first time. It was a sell-out of course but the company decided to put on an extra programme of ‘Divertissements' at the Davis Theatre in Croydon. Only three tickets per person were allowed, first come first served, so Mr Leopold sent up all the seniors (and Tweenies?) who camped (overnight? can't remember) and between them they bought enough tickets to enable the whole school go. We had never seen anything like the Bolshoi – Ulanova danced the Dying Swan; and as for the men, we were astounded by their strength and elevation. There was a short ballet called Spring Waters in which the man literally threw the ballerina up in the air, caught her and walked off stage carrying her above his head with one hand. You can see Spring Waters on You Tube – even one from 1956 which, although not as technically up to modern standards, is especially dramatic. Following this visit suddenly it was épaulment, épaulment, épaulment in every ballet class.
In the 1970s and ‘80s I went to many of the school productions at the Adeline Genée Theatre; they seemed to surpass themselves every year. My cousin, Juliet (also an old BD pupil) said once that those shows were far more enjoyable than many a West End production. That theatre was just a twinkle in Miss Bush's eye when I was there but she and Mr Leopold had already planned where it was going to be built.
We had an all round dance education and those of us who weren't budding ballerinas soon realised this. However, we had the superb Miss Gwen (Carter) amongst others to teach us stage branch, modern, tap (which sadly went out of fashion for a while), ballroom, drama etc., so we either went into musical theatre or moved on to teachers' training courses. Our academic achievements weren't brilliant but I believe that an all round dance education gives one a quickness of mind with which to apply oneself to learning other subjects. In my case I became hooked on HTML while doing a ‘virtual' course with the OU. Actually it all started about 10 years ago when Margaret, a friend of mine, sat me down in front of her PC and suggested I play Solitaire - and I didn't even know how to move the mouse! It was Margaret, too who persuaded me to do the OU course. (Ed. Well, Lyndall has moved a mountain to produce this huge website for Bush Davies – congratulations, 'Silver Surfer'!)
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Should any of you be interested in the renovation of an oak framed barn into a hall house, you might like to look at this web site which I made a few years ago.
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