1939-1945 Work page 2
If you look at the photograph of students at the barre at Henrietta Street, in the previous chapter, and the photographs of students in a tap class with Victor at Imhof House on this page, what is one's immediate reaction? Most likely you will notice the well-formed physiques! We are reminded here, when Paul sent a card to Dame Ninette de Valois in 1986, showing an early photograph of Adeline Genée en pointe wearing a tutu. Dame Ninette replied, with a recent photograph of herself, noting on the reverse side, "This is not nearly like or as lovely as your Xmas card - I adore it! What character in that little face (Today we would have said, 'She may be too fat!')." There had not been the same obsession, as in today's market, with having the ideal physique for dancing. For instance, one can see photographs of Anna Pavlova, the young Margot Fonteyn and later, Lynn Seymour. The public and, indeed, choreographers were discerning in their desire to see a sense of performance and personality along with strong technical ability. Today, as on the catwalk, the dancer must be 'fit for purpose' whereas, in earlier days, a more fulsome figure was likely to be de rigueur, especially in musical theatre. Of course there were alternatives to performing which did not demand a certain physical presence. Examinations could be taken, to the highest levels, so gaining the qualifications needed to enter the teaching profession. Over the years Bush Davies was to produce some of the finest and most respected teachers who can be found all over the world.
Paul, aged about six years, can just remember visiting Imhof House. The family would motor down from Hampstead in the beloved Lagonda of course, park in an alley behind the building, enter through a back door and up the narrow stairs to the second floor. There was a small office before entering the studio to an often bizarre scene of activity and noise. A curtained screen was placed across the centre to enable two different disciplines to be taught concurrently. This was daily life at Imhof Studio.
The now octogenarian, Daphne Peterson, remembers being taken here by Marjorie to be assessed by Noreen for her ballet potential and by Victor for her tap. From the age of seven years, Daphne had been attending Marjorie's school in Romford. Today, everyone remembers Daphne, not only from the war years at Felden but later, as a leading figure in the development of the Romford and Charters schools. Her association lasted almost sixty years overall. We shall write further about Daphne.
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