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From Cynthia Boyd (Bonada) received 7 September, 2009
The Day of the Genée Medals Competition
One of the most exciting and traumatic experiences of my idyllic three years at Bush Davies School (Charters Towers), was on a certain summer's day in 1955. It was the day of the Genée Medals Competition and I was lucky to be a nominee, (not the first time that our school had participated, and successfully). The sense of responsibility weighed heavily upon me!
On 'The Day', I went to Matron after breakfast, who duly administered a strong dose of sal volatile, the usual routine for hypersensitive 'exam girls' to calm their nerves before the event!
I remember then being summoned to Mr Leopold's study, where he proceeded to apply a truly 'balletic' make-up to my face using all the expertise acquired from years in the theatre. This was most gratefully received and helped to boost my confidence.
We were soon to be on our way – driven by Mr Leopold with Miss Bush in the front seat of the Daimler wearing her most elegant high heels and lucky(?) charm bracelet, showing off her expressive hands. My friend *Valery O'Connor, my 'helper and dresser' who, like me, came from Jersey, sat next to me on my left in the back; we were privileged passengers……………. My other dorm' mate and good friend, *Lyndall Thomas went up to London in the coach with the rest of the school. The journey to the Criterion Theatre remains a blur in my memory, except for Miss Bush kindly turning round as we neared our destination and saying to me, "Are you alright darling? You look rather pale!"
The rest is history…………… each contestant including one or two male dancers had to perform a 'set' classical solo and then a demi-caractére dance in the second half which was not 'set'. I must surely have been the most fortunate entrant in having the latter choreographed for me by Noreen Bush herself at her most creative! Whether she had been inspired by Walter de la Mare's poem; Slowly Silently now the Moon……. or by the exquisite music, 'Sur les Terraces de la Lune' (Debussy) or even by my name (Goddess of the Moon in Greek mythology) I shall never know – but I certainly loved dancing this beautiful Moon dance, and when the heel of my ballet shoe slipped off, as I was bouréeing off just near the end of the dance, – I just continued bouréeing …………………… thinking all was lost!
The cheers and applause from all my fellow Bush Davies students and others when they heard that, in spite of the shoe incident, I had won the Silver medal was heart-warming! Teddy Green, from the Romford side of the school also won a Silver medal. The announcement was made by Phyllis Bedells, in place of Margot Fonteyn who was unable to stay for the presentation as she had a plane to catch.
So, the next day the whole school had a holiday as a kind of celebration – and I was forgiven.
PS The lovely silver sequined pale blue chiffon Moon costume I wore was designed by my talented friend and co-student , Heather Mann.
PPS I was so greatly helped and inspired by the sensitive playing of my accompanist, Leslie Chasey who, with Miss Bush, chose that particularly appropriate piece of music.
PPPS *They are still my dear friends as is Jean ‘Tich' Harris, after 54 years!
Click here to see a photograph of Cynthia and Lyndall in 2007
(Ed. Cynthia graduated to the Royal Ballet School for a year's intensive training. She declined an invitation to dance with the ballet of the Royal Opera and joined the Charley Ballet in the show, ‘L'Adorabile Giulio' choreographed by the American, Donald Sadler. Later she became part of the Bernard Hall Quintet performing throughout Europe until she met her future husband in Monte Carlo. For most of her adult life she has been developing a characteristic and interesting talent as an artist; she is a member of the Royal British Artists and the Hesketh Hubbard society and is a founder member of the Small Paintings Society; see Bush Telegraph index page. Her daughter, Laura Bonada attended Charters in the 1970s.)
Christina Ballard- student of Bush Davies Schools, Romford from September 1968 to March 1972. Received 15 May 2009
I had always danced from the age of 2 and a half but only Ballet, and passed my then Elementary examination with the Royal Academy of Dancing at age 13. I studied Ballroom and Latin American Dance, taking many medals and was working towards being a professional Latin American dancer but this did not happen according to plan!
I took a secretarial course and left school at 16 and started on my chosen career as a secretary, whilst continuing with a weekly ballet class.
At the age of 21 I decided I was not happy sitting in front of a typewriter and took the deep end plunge and presented myself for audition at Bush Davies, Romford. Miss Joyce Percy and Miss Daphne Peterson auditioned me and seemed satisfied with my ballet solo. Miss Peterson then asked the immortal line "Have you done any Modern dance and do you know step ball change?" I said regretfully no to each question and Miss Peterson then proceeded to take me round the studio doing step ball changes!! Little did I know this was to be the beginning to a wonderful life!
I left Bush Davies with my Advanced certificate in all subjects and my Associate in Ballet and Modern. I got married in 1972 and needed to get a full time job so I went to work for the Imperial Society in the Examinations Department using my secretarial skills. It was hard going back into an office environment from full time dancing but a necessary step. The then General Secretary, Mr Peter Pearson allowed me to have Friday afternoon off and I started my own school in my village which eventually ran for 16 years. I worked at the ISTD for about three years and then worked as Miss Percy's secretary at Bush Davies Romford in the mornings whilst developing my teaching in local schools. I had come full circle!!
I had no other ambitions other than to build up the school but fate had other plans! I was encouraged to take my Fellowship examinations in Modern Theatre Dance and Classical Ballet and became an examiner in Modern and Tap in 1981.
I was honoured to be invited by Daphne Peterson to teach at Bush Davies in East Grinstead and also taught Modern at The Royal Academy of Dance in London, The London College of Dance and Drama and several other leading vocational colleges.
I have taught and examined throughout the UK and Europe and undertook a 10 day teaching tour in Canada. I was invited to take classes at the Janet Cram Modern Dance competition and continued to do so every year for the next 20!!
I was for many years, a member of the Development Group of the Modern Dance Faculty helping to choreograph and produce in all 11 new syllabi for the Society and travelled the UK teaching the work.
I was a member of many committees of the ISTD including Council, and became Vice Chair of the Modern Dance Faculty.
I helped organise the annual International Summer Summer School for Modern and Tap at Chichester University for 20 years and still lecture at this event.
I have recently qualified as a Pilates teacher with the Body Control Pilates Association.
After 37 years from leaving Bush Davies Romford I am still teaching, coaching teachers in their professional qualifying examinations with the ISTD, examining up to Fellowship level in Modern Dance, and now enjoying adding Pilates to my work. I also teach a weekly dance/exercise class for 'mature' ladies up to 80 years old!
The inspiration behind all my teaching and career path has been Daphne Peterson and Joyce Percy. Both wonderful people, I cannot thank them enough for their gifted teaching and artistry and for their continuous support and encouragement in my life, both professional and personal.
Special thanks must also be given to Mrs Murielle Ashcroft, for many years, Chair of the Modern Dance Faculty who guided and encouraged me to take up the many opportunities offered to me in the dancing world. THANK YOU!!
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I hope that some of my memories below will be helpful for the BD web site.
I was obviously sorry to hear Paul hadn't been well – please send him our best wishes.
I was so grateful to have the opportunity to train full time at BD – for 7 years! This then lead to several happy years as a professional dancer and teacher. Heather Rees and Daphne Peterson, such inspiring teachers, who saw me through my associate exams so I could then teach and enter children for exams. Alex Morrow, Sven Bradshaw, occasionally Frank Freeman and John Raven, weren't we lucky to have such marvellous male teachers. Then Linda Crocket holds a special memory for such thrilling choreography in The Rite of Spring and West Side Story, to name just two pieces. Pat Ellis, Joy Camden, Joyce Percy, Pat Prime, Alfreda Thorogood and David Wall, wasn't I lucky to experience all these in the fantastic years I spent there. Mrs Pat would play just about anything then Eugene and Cherry who would accompany the group singing lessons with Mr Palmer.
Meal times, ‘Quiz ravioli', a regular sound for anyone who didn't like it, followed by ‘Eggo' for the greedy one who did. At a Christmas party when some of us sneaked in bottles of booze resulting in an early end to the evening – and staggering up the hill to Knowle House!
Cleaning the sporty Nissan, LXP1 for the bosses, and after a quick spin round the car park a game of pool in the Folly as thanks. The Grand Defile – ‘one two step together, one two step together'; ‘left a bit or right a bit' to get the lines straight. The plastic bags we would wear in the rain to get from the studio to the theatre – all part of the fun!
We would spend many happy hours in the theatre behind the scenes – sound, lighting, flys, scenery and prop-making. A wonderful opportunity. The school trip to Germany and Switzerland , organised by Sue Passmore and Alex Morrow, to see theatre and ballets and take part in company classes.
I suppose all good things come to an end sooner or later – more's the pity!
2. E-mail from Mark Burton 14 May 2009
John & Paul
Logged on last night to the new website after receiving a couple of emails from fellow bush davians. Haven't you been busy, what a fab website, lots of info and really interesting, haven't got through it all yet but looking forward to it. Sounds like my year group are planning a reunion in June, should be interesting as not seen or spoken to most for 20 years!!
Hope you are both keeping as well as possible.
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