Denise died suddenly on 14th March from a heart attack with no warning of any prior problems. She will be remembered for her 33 years of dedication to examining, her kindness, warmth, fun and so many other attributes just too numerous to mention.
At her Memorial Service held in Durban, Olivia Lume, paid the following tribute to Denise.
“As the National Director for the Royal Academy of Dance I am honoured to have been asked by the family to say a few words about our very beloved Dinks.
Dinks' association with the RAD stems back to her childhood, where like many young girls she went to ballet classes. She trained with Joan Turner in Salisbury and was later a member of the Rhodesian National Ballet. In the early 1960's she travelled abroad and furthered her studies at Arts Education in England.
It was in the UK that she met Esmond, at the Victoria League Students' Club – a meeting place for commonwealth students. Esmond being in the press industry was aware that dancers were being sought for the musical “My Fair Lady” that would be touring South Africa. He encouraged her to audition and she got the part. She toured with the production for over a year and during this time her romance with the ever charming Esmond flourished. Es did not just recognize the beautiful dancer that she was, he of course also had an ulterior motive for encouraging her to audition. If she got back to Africa he would marry this charming girl, and he did in 1963. The Denise Williams / Esmond Caro partnership is a uniquely inspiring one – a couple so dedicated and supportive of one another is a rare find. A marriage unquestionably made in Heaven.
The dance bug was still itching and Dinks was not ready to hang up her dancing shoes. Her love for the art shifted in a slightly different direction as she joined the infamous Iris Manning studio in Durban as a young student teacher.
She taught alongside Miss Manning for 5 years and then opened her own studio which she ran for 16 years. In 1985 she returned to the UK where she underwent a long and rigorous training at RAD headquarters in Battersea. Having successfully completed the programme she was appointed to the Academy's International Panel of Examiners. A role which she thoroughly enjoyed and which she excelled at for over 30 years.
It was around the time of her appointment to the board of examiners that I met Denise and we had an instant connection. Denise, Dinks, Dinky the loving nicknames are endless as the affection grew. There was an incredible aura about her which filled every room, every conversation. She was a straight forward no nonsense person in the nicest possible way. She wasted no time on pessimism and always believed there was a way around any difficult situation. Her enthusiasm, vibrant personality, strength of character and her enduring sense of humour were magnetic.
She became a real globe trotter as she toured all corners of the world as an RAD examiner, tutor and ambassador. Wherever she went she touched hearts and souls and made lifelong friends. There were no cultural barriers with our dear Dinks, she just loved all that God created and whether dealing with students, teachers or people in high rank positions she was comfortable by just being herself. She would naturally strike up a conversation with strangers, beggars, the newspaper vendor as though she had known them a lifetime. What a blessing to have such flare.
Dinks' untimely death has come as a great shock to the worldwide dance community who adore her. Not only have we lost a true professional, held in the highest esteem by teachers, her fellow examiners, office personnel and RAD representatives throughout the world as well as our directors at headquarters in London, we have lost a friend and to me and many an extended member of our families.
Dinks you touched so many lives – you were the breath of fresh air that lifted every dull moment – the caring, loyal, honest and most loving and supportive person we turned to. You were the shoulder we cried on and the one who gave us strength and encouragement. Today we mourn you dear friend but in time we will laugh again as the many wonderful memories unfold.
Whenever you phoned, you greeted with 'Hello me darlin' how we are going to miss your chirpiness. 'Rest in peace me darlin' you will always remain in our hearts. “
Janet King, RAD examiner, writes: I first met Mrs Denton in the kitchen at the SOE hall in South Street, Hillcrest, Pretoria during an RAD examination session. She passed the remark: “I don't know how anyone would want to teach ballet” and I took exception to that as I had just qualified to teach at the RAD in London. However over the years I grew to respect her wisdom, dry sense of humour and, above all her discretion. We developed a lasting friendship that only ended with her recent passing.
We shared books, videos and Dancing Times and had many discussions on teaching and dancers' physiques. Only later did I learn that she was one of the first radiographers in Pretoria.
Her Grades 1, 2 and 3 RAD exams were taken in 1927 and at the age of 11 she passed her “Elementary” exam and (I think) she was 16 when she passed her Advanced exam.
Marjorie Sturman gave her lessons at 07:00 in the mornings and later Mrs Denton taught pupils under Miss Sturman's name. Several teachers still involved in dance were pupils of hers, these include: Tina D'Artnall; Wendy Quarmby; Karen Drake and the Jazbek sisters to name but a few.
Her late husband, Mr Reg Denton an accomplished pianist, was a Manager of a bank, and later, in his retirement accompanied her students during classes.
At 98, Mrs Denton was still able to walk unaided, read and do her crosswords daily, though time passed very slowly for her she never complained – just passed little comments like “ keep on teaching!”
RAD Artistic Director is awarded with an OBE for services to dance
Lynn Wallis, Artistic Director of the RAD, was awarded an OBE for services to dance in The Queen's honours list on 13 June 2015.
On receiving this award, Lynn said: "I am hugely humbled and extremely thrilled".
The Royal Academy of Dance has had a run of honours of late with Lynn's award following closely on from Paula Hunt, Chair of the Panel of Examiners and Head of Syllabus Development who recently received the New Zealand Order of Merit.
Together, Lynn and Paula have led the development of the new RAD's syllabi, from Pre-primary in dance to Solo Seal since 2008.
A farewell message from Richard Thom
19 Mar 2015
The RAD's Director of Finance and Administration retires after 27 years.
Today I stepped down as the Director of Finance and Administration of the Royal Academy of Dance.
During the twenty seven years in post, I was fortunate to have served three Presidents, three Chairman of the Board of Trustees and three Chief Executives who have given me great support during my tenure and without whom I wouldn’t have been able to carry out my role. I have also been ably supported by my fellow Directors.
I also had the opportunity to meet many of you as trustees, members, teachers, examiners, tutors, employees, candidates, attendees or volunteers either on my travel throughout the Academy’s extended reach or here at Battersea Square.
The Academy has enriched my life and I would like to thank all of you for being part of it. I am looking forward to retirement, but I will continue to be in touch with the Academy as a Friend, and I hope that I will still have the opportunity to meet you from time to time.
With my best regards
Walmer School of Dance London Trip
Troy Coffey, RAD Registered Teacher, Port Elizabeth writes:
I recently came back from London where my senior Advanced girls did classes with Hillary Clarke at RAD headquarters. It was a wonderful experience for them and they thoroughly enjoyed the classes. We also got a special card from Darcey Bussell welcoming us to the RAD.
My student, Claire Glover, has captured our time in London. She writes: When we were offered the amazing chance of travelling to London to dance, we realised it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. We had so much to see and so much to learn, all in one whirlwind of a week!
Our little group consisting of six senior girls and our ballet teacher, Troy Coffey, left Port Elizabeth on 5th July. We arrived in London early the next morning, going straight into classes at the amazing Pineapple and Dance Works Studios. For us, this was a novelty; we don't have open studios like these in South Africa, and we came back extremely jealous! Although our main focus was ballet, we branched out into some interesting classes in jazz, urban and dynamic contemporary. Needless to say it wasn't for all of us – sometimes it's better to stick with ballet! – but, we had a lot of fun at the back of the class anyway.
From a country with barely any public transport, the tube was yet another novelty to enjoy, besides the impromptu fitness training we got from walking round the city. We took in all the sights and were fortunate to see not only Wicked, but Billy Elliott and the Laban Dance School showcase. One thing we got a bit too used to was the Starbucks around every corner… we certainly had withdrawals when we came back!
The week's climax had to be our Wednesday and Thursday classes at the RAD Headquarters. We had been practising the Advanced 1 syllabus at home, and were very nervous and excited to be taught at the big base. However, everyone was very friendly, and we enjoyed the class with Hillary Clarke very much and learned a lot to take home.
On the second day, we made sure to purchase something from the beautiful RAD shop and relaxed a little more in the open class, which we all said was one of our favourites of the trip. We were all very disappointed, however, when we left five minutes before Darcey Bussell arrived, though her thoughtful card made all the difference!
On the Saturday our trip culminated in a performance in the Una Billings Dance Academy's Show, where we performed a free movement group piece choreographed by our teacher, Troy Coffey, and another more contemporary piece with an African feel by one of our girls, Stephanie Kirsten. It was a wonderful way to round up the experience before heading home to start working on all the things we had learned.
Altogether it was an unforgettable experience and we want to thank every person who inspired us in our pursuit and love of dance. It was a privilege to spend time in such an amazing city and the memories will always hold a special place in our hearts.
Students of the Walmer School of Dance in the courtyard of RAD headquarters in London. Front to Back: Anneke Classen; Alexa Archibald; Claire Glover; Jenna Beckett and Stephanie Kirsten. Photo: Troy Coffey
We love to hear from our members and frends. If you would like to share your story and photos please submit to the RAD national office in Johannesburg.