Joy Spriggs







From: Joy Spriggs  April 2009
Notes & reminiscences of my time at Bush Davies at Romford
Having been inspired by the lecture/demonstrations that Marjorie Davies presented with the “Bush” students at the ISTD July Congress at Victoria Halls in the 1950s, it had long been my ambition to be able to dance like they did. It was all so modern, rhythmic and really exciting to see.
I finally plucked up courage and wrote to Miss Davies with a view to furthering my training with her. I received a beautifully hand-written reply,detailing the tuition available at her Romford studios. I was thrilled and delighted to be accepted and to be informed that a private lesson with Miss Daphne Peterson would be £1.12.6d!
My twice-weekly journey took three hours by steam-train to Romford via Liverpool Street. The Studios were in a house quite near to the railway. I remember reading a newspaper (over someone's shoulder) showing pictures of the little russian dog that had been launched into space.
I duly joined the Intermediate Modern and Tap classes (now Advanced 1) with the full-time students and two other teachers studying like me, Barbara Fothergill and Georgie Miller. Other famous names at “Bush” in those days included Patricia Prime, Pat Goh, Wendy Lukins, Gill Farr, Virginia Wilkinson, Wendy Headford and Lesley Hand.
We used to have our lessons in the L-shaped studio at the back of the house but sometimes in the small square front studio (this little room ensured the Bush ballet students had fabulous 'on the spot' pirouettes!) Only occasionally were we allowed into the new large studio that had been built in the back garden-it was here we had a farewell party with bulldozers working outside the windows!
At the start of our lessons Miss Daphne would light her cigarette and sip her coffee and rest one foot on her stool as she took us through the finer points of the syllabus and what an inspiration she was. I would still hear her voice giving guidance and gems of information, when ,in later years, I went on to train many teachers myself for their Associate, Licentiate and Fellowship examinations,
Our music was played on vinyl records, "Tammy" sung by Debbie Reynolds was our rhythmical limbering routine and I remember Brenda Lee singing “Stupid Cupid” as background for our tap.
Sometimes Miss Davies would come in to my lesson,giving invaluable advice, her bright blue eyes shining and always an encouraging smile - this was an honour indeed!
Gwen Carter sometimes took our tap class,another marvellous bonus and added inspiration, Gwen and her husband became firm and long-time friends, in fact Gwen was one of the first examiners to visit my school .
As I always had to rush back to Enfield in time to teach my own classes,I used to call in to the kitchen tuckshop to collect lovely fresh crisp cheese rolls, made by the lovely lady there and it's bugging me that I can't remember her name!
On completion of my studies,culminating in Modern and Tap Fellowship,I was very proud to become firstly, a Grade Examiner,progressing to Major and Associate level. I examined for nearly thirty years in the UK and undertook many overseas tours. It was a great thrill to examine for the first time at Dormans Park at East Grinstead – I really could not believe I was there!
I was later elected to the Modern Committee and was a founder-member of the newly formed Tap Faculty Committee in the 1990s. Earlier I had been secretary of the London Modern Dance Group for thirteen years, arranging classes and lectures to promote any new syllabus work, as at that time there were no courses for teachers. Often Miss Daphne or Gwen were our guest tutors, always willing to help with advice and sincere encouragement that meant so much to all of us
Victoria Halls, Bloomsbury Square,Holborn.
For two weeks in July, always very hot and sunny,as I remember, we would crowd into Victoria Halls, sitting on the wide window ledges to get the best view. Wonderful classes and lectures were given by such luminaries as Katherine Dunham and her Company, Paul Draper (I remember Miss Daphne taking to the floor solo with him) and Rudolph Laban.
West End Stars from "Paint Your Wagon"and "West Side Story", all American dancers at this time, modern musical theatre was their domain until our own Sheila O'Neill showed that the “Brits” could do it too!
But always the highlights of Congress were Marjorie Davies' inspiring lectures and classes, there was always such excitement when the "Bush" students took to the floor with such dynamic professionalism. Many well-known teachers, performers and examiners were there in their early years and I'm sure Miss Davies looks down on them all with great pride.

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