CHARTERS PART one
1945-1969 page 4
So, to begin, with so few students of school age, education at Charters was rudimentary. Three teachers are remembered: Miss Raby who also taught ballroom and Dr Bechenauer. "We were told he was Hungarian," writes Judy Jenkins, "but I think he was probably an escaped German Jew. He lived in one of the annexes and his sudden disappearance led to all sorts of rumours of indelicate behaviour with a Senior!" Heather Mann writes, "We had a most wonderful English teacher from Tasmania, Mrs Vincent." She continues, "School was all morning and until 3.30 after lunch when we had dancing until about 6. The Seniors had classes all morning, of course. If one was taking a major ballet exam it was common practice to be called out from school at any time for extra coaching - no teacher dared to say no to Miss Bush. Ballet always came first but, after recognition, all that came to a grinding halt!"
Obviously, educational and welfare standards as well as teaching requirements had improved dramatically when the Department of Education and Science bestowed its recognition on Bush Davies, Charters Towers, in 1953. Lyndall Thomas recalls, "Miss Bush and Mr Leopold were so thrilled they gave us a 'recognition' party to celebrate. We had savouries to eat instead of sweet cakes which I thought brilliant!"
Dance teachers who followed from Felden included Lorna Nield, Gwen and Kath Carter, and Marjorie Davies, who would drive down from Romford to stay for a couple of nights with her mother 'Auntie Taffy'; Jean Campbell now joined them as a ballet teacher from Grandison Clark College, where she had been trained. "The delightful Joan Lawson taught national," writes Lyndall and, "Mr Benesh visited regularly to teach his new system of notation." (Ed. Rudolph Benesh with his wife Joan had devised their system of recording dance movement in 1955; it was taught at the RAD one year later and, naturally, Noreen was quick to recognise the importance of their work. The Royal Ballet was the first company to hire a professional choreologist, in 1960, and soon after the system was quickly used by all major dance companies in the Western world). From Heather, "A Yugoslav did his Yugoslavian thing and modern jazz was provided by an American, George Erskine Jones; Oh, and Molly Lake taught variations from the ballets. We wore maroon woollen tights with white tunics for ballet and black slacks for modern."
Although the students were growing in number, a friendly family atmosphere, as evidenced from Felden, prevailed. "Largely because we were all doing what we wanted to do, and working very hard," writes Julia Cutbush. She continues, "To me aged 15, arriving from a conventional boarding school, the senior students seemed incredibly glamorous and well-heeled. My grandmother had made my practice tunics from parachute silk and I had to put up with some very rude remarks. However there was little unkindness as we were bound by a common purpose. Miss Bush and Mr Leopold were very kind and fair to everyone and much respected." She continues, "Miss Bush was never able to catch us talking after lights-out, when doing her rounds, because her charm bracelet would make such a noise while walking the corridors. There were no petty rules so consequently behaviour was good,"
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