RAD People & Friends

The latest news from RAD People & Friends.



Doreen Agnes van Beuge
Mrs Van, as she was known to many passed away on 14 November 2015. She started playing piano for Anna Nell School of Ballet on Blyvooruitzicht Mine in 1953 and worked for her for over 40 years.

She accompanied exams, concerts and the popular Krugersdorp festival, sitting at the piano for many hours a day.

On moving to Kensington she became well known in the ballet world playing for many teachers in and around Johannesburg and the West Rand. All her travelling was by bus, train and returning home late at night by taxi.

She also accompanied RAD exams in Bophuthatswana and Swaziland and had many stories to tell of her travels.

In 1993 she moved to Cape Town to be close to her family but continued to travel to Joburg to play for exams, whilst also taking on studios in Cape Town.

She always had regular calls and visits from a few of the RAD teachers who remained very good friends with her and she loved to hear all the news of the ballet world.

She will always be fondly remembered by Val Roulston. She played the piano for her as a child and later for her pupils on the West Rand in Florida. She was an amazing lady with a very sharp mind and beautiful smile who always made tea and scones for you when you went to visit, even a few weeks before her passing. Written by van Beuge family and Val Roulston


Patricia Stirling FRAD
John Byrne writes: I first met Pat in 1992 when I travelled from London to give teachers' courses in Zimbabwe and South Africa. I have good memories of the meetings she hosted at her house; the impressive display of the Academy's work she produced; and the energy of the small but enthusiastic group on the teachers' course. It was a close knit community of teachers, and Pat was very much at the centre of it.

Her association with ballet and the Academy spanned an extraordinary period of over 70 years. She contributed to the Academy's work as teacher, dual examiner, and local organiser, and always maintained the highest possible professional standards. She was a superb and loyal representative of the Academy, and many people throughout the world will have very fond memories of her.

Pat's teaching career began in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) after she returned from a year of study at the Royal Ballet School in London in 1956. She formed a partnership with her sister Sheila, and together they opened a school in Harare which ran for some 43 years, finally closing its doors in 2003. Pat took over the local organiser's role in 1982 in Zimbabwe, and served in that capacity for over 20 years. Visiting examiners were always assured of a warm welcome and generous hospitality.

Pat became a Grades Examiner in 1966, and a Vocational Grades Examiner in 1986. She was an examiner for 46 years; for this outstanding achievement, and in recognition of the important role she played in the development of the RAD's work in Zimbabwe, she was honoured with a Fellowship of the Academy in 1996.

I had the pleasure of seeing Pat shortly before her death, as an honoured guest at a teachers' course I gave in Brisbane. Modest and unpretentious, a woman of grace and genuine charm, she had the ability to make you feel better after you had been in her company. Pat left her homeland late in life to make a new life in another country. This takes strength of character and determination to make the best of things, qualities which she had in abundance.

Sheila Stirling FRAD writes: A special tribute to my “little sister” Pat, a name I sometimes called her at examiners' seminars and meetings causing giggles and introducing a lighter moment!

The shock of her sudden death following a stroke has been really hard to accept. The bond between us has always been extremely close and made stronger by our mutual love of dance and the teaching of it.

A delicate baby who grew up to be a strong lady, both physically and mentally. Dancing from the age of four, learning and excelling in all dance genres. Her love of teaching started as a student teacher while still in high school. Following a year at the Royal Ballet School, Pat returned home where we formed a partnership and taught together for a good number of years.

Pat's dedication to teaching and examining for the RAD and her love for the hundreds of pupils lucky enough to be taught by her is well known. What may not be known is her involvement in the formation of the National Ballet of Rhodesia now Zimbabwe and the large number of excellent ballets she produced for the company.

Competitive Ballroom dancing was another outlet for Pat's artistry and for some years she and her late husband, Aubrey, were Advanced Amateur Champions of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe.

Pat is survived by her daughter and son and four grandchildren – these were her reason for relocating to Australia.
Pat will always be lovingly remembered.

Olivia Lume, RAD National Director writes: Pat was not only a teacher and examiner, she was an icon that we looked up to, admired and respected. She paved the way for so many young dancers and prospective teachers – she was a mentor and more importantly a loyal friend to many the world over. I had the honour and privilege of knowing Pat the person, her late husband, Aubrey, and her extended family. She had a great big heart and cared deeply for others. She roped me and my family into her life and I will always treasure her friendship. An expert and true master in the dance industry – one who was generous in sharing her knowledge and who encouraged high achievements. She is sadly missed but will never be forgotten.

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.