charters part two
1970-1989 PAGE 9
With expansion in other departments already mentioned, what might this suggest? Simply, a hugely diversified and intensively designed programme for all students in the vocational department; this by now, had come under the control of Joyce Percy, as Ballet Principal. With Daphne Peterson in 'full-back' position she had the intimidating task of pulling all these educational and vocational activities together. 'Miss Computer Brain' we called her, but Joyce, backed by her Romford experience, rose nobly and ably to the challenges ahead. If truth be told, had the students wished to take advantage of the options available to them, then they were spoilt for choice. Both Joyce and Daphne fulfilled their vocation in a characteristically exemplary manner.
During Paul's twenty years' tenure, with the long-term future in mind, several attempts were made to recruit a suitable candidate either to take overall artistic responsibility or purely as head of dance. We have mentioned earlier the approach to Festival Ballet and there is no doubt that Noreen was becoming jaded in her straight-jacketed regime. In 1974 she received a letter from Biddy Espinosa (See Pauline Bush) expressing her dissatisfaction in her post at Elmhurst Ballet School. "Is there anything available at Bush?" Biddy asked for 'artistic director' and was to begin as soon as convenient. Here was a vivacious, highly intelligent and charismatic personality no-one could have refused. Noreen was grateful to be able to relax. Discontent, however, began to surface when overt criticism of the school's fundamental ethos was being challenged. Noreen knew how essential it was to sustain the support of parents and students, as well as local education authorities, through providing qualifications. She was predisposed to the RAD methods and got the results. Also, Biddy herself had posed an awkward question, "I wonder whether the school can cope with two grandes dames?" Confrontation seemed inevitable but, to avoid a breakdown, Biddy exercised a graceful departure after only two years. Malcontent soon evaporated. Thankfully, Biddy remained a true friend and supporter of Bush Davies and was appreciative of her experience. She realised that she had to be independent and went on to establish her own highly successful school, London Studio Centre, in her own special way. Her tragic death in 1989 was untimely and shocking. However, the school continued under the direction of her son, Nicholas with his wife, Nikky, an ex-Charters student.
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