Sunday, March 20, 2016

"Dance in the old fashioned way"

1. Traditional style Ballroom dancing:
(Left): Victor Silvester and Peggy Spencer.

[This is the hold for most ballroom dances]
(Right): Walter Laird and Andé Lyons.
[This is the hold for dancing the tango]
2. The Cumbrian town of Egremont: 
The Market Hall is behind the Town Hall
['Old fashioned' dancing was revived here in WW2]
3. Two Victorian dance music sheets (waltzes):  
"Ethel Waltz" (left) 

"Omelia Waltz" (right)
[Composer: J.B. Senior, the 'Cumbrian Waltz King']
4. Two Victorian traditional dance music sheets:
"Alberto Polka" (left)

"Triffitt Barn or Skirt Dance" (right)
[Composer: J.B. Senior, the 'Cumbrian Waltz King']
For additional information click on 'Comments' below


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information

Dancing the ‘old-fashioned way’?

“Dance in the old-fashioned way.
Won't you stay in my arms?
Just melt against my skin and let me feel your heart.
Don't let the music win by dancing far apart.
Come close where you belong, let's hear our secret song.”
From: "The Old Fashioned Way" (Charles Aznavour)


The English language version of Charles Aznavour’s “The Old Fashioned Way” (in French, ‘Les plaisirs démodés’), released in 1973, asks for a revival of the dancing and dance music of former times. It was released at a time when ‘glam rock’ and the discotheque seemed to be all the vogue. The singer of this song asks for a return to the more intimate and romantic ballroom dances such as those performed by ‘Fred and Ginger’ in their classic Hollywood film sequences.

In fact, the French language version of this Charles Aznavour’s song even uses the analogy of dancing “Cheek to cheek” and to bring back the more romantic dancing style of former times (‘Dansons joue contre joue’ / ‘Let us dance cheek to cheek’). What does the French version of the song bring to mind? It is the image of the debonair Fred Astaire singing Irving Berlin’s song “Cheek to cheek” while at the same time dancing with the delightful Ginger Rogers, as in the 1935 Hollywood film “Top Hat”.

Let us use this imagery of Charles Aznavour’s song and the dream of dancing ‘cheek to cheek’ like ‘Fred and Ginger’. Let us use this as the excuse to have a brief look at “dancing in the old fashioned way” during the Second World War. The subject of dancing and dance music has been covered by previous articles on the “Second World War Blogspot” and its predecessor site, “BBC People’s War”. Links to a suggested further reading and viewing are given at the end of this article.

Sunday, 20 March, 2016  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Learning to dance with Victor Silvester’s “BBC Dancing Club”

During the dark days of the Second World War, about thirty or so years before Charles Aznavour’s song was first released, the dance hall, music and song played such an important part in keeping up morale for all the nations involved in the war. While in the dance hall the young and the not so young could forget the misery and drudgery of war. Even if only for a short time, people could put to the back of their minds the death and destruction of the war, austerity, separation from close family and friends and perhaps even being a long way from home.

It was in the darkest days of the war, in the spring of 1941 that the “BBC Dancing Club” was first broadcast on the ‘wireless’ (radio) and introduced by Victor Silvester, the popular former World Professional Ballroom Dance champion and band leader. In these early days, the programmes were broadcast from the Paris Cinema, Lower Regent Street, London with a studio audience and invited dancers to demonstrate the dances. Later on, it transferred to The programme began with a short dancing lesson, with Victor Silvester slowly dictating the dance steps. Listeners at home could write them down and thereby learn how to dance when visiting the local ballroom, village hall or market hall where they lived.

When television broadcasts were resumed after the war, in 1948 Victor Silvester’s “BBC Dancing Club” was among the shows that transferred from the radio. The programmes included professional dance couples who gave a dance demonstration. In the early days of “BBC Dancing Club” the professional dancers would be Frank and Peggy Spencer and Walter Laird and Andé Lyons. Also invited to the broadcast were some of the leading amateur couples who took part in the general dancing.

After the programme transferred to television, Victor Silvester continued giving a short dance lesson and then lead a demonstration of the dance with one of the professional dancers. Photograph No 1 (left) shows Victor Silvester giving one of these dance demonstrations with Peggy Spencer during one of these “BBC Dancing Club” broadcasts. Walter Laird and Andé Lyons are the couple seen on the right-hand side of photograph No.1.

In addition to appearing on the “BBC Dancing Club”, Frank and Peggy Spencer along with Walter Laird and Andé Lyons also used to do a cabaret act at different venues in southern England known as the ‘Dual Dancers’. Effectively, the core part of the act was the two couples demonstrating Modern Ballroom and Latin American dancing as a kind of miniature formation team. The routine for the ‘Dual Dancers’ would be something like a Ballroom routine by both couples, followed by a Samba by Laird and Lyons, a Rumba by the Spencers, a Jive by Laird and Lyons, another dance by the Spencers concluding with a final routine involving both couples.

Laird and Lyons became well known for their Jive, choreographed by Walter Laird. The Laird and Lyons ‘Jive’ was an early adaptation of the Jitterbug, an American dance brought to Europe by American troops during the war. Frank and Peggy Spencer, Victor Silvester and Walter Laird all wrote definitive text books and articles about dancing. Some of these works about Modern Ballroom, Latin American and Formation Team dancing are still regarded among the definitive written texts for these styles of dancing.

Victor Silvester’s ‘Modern Ballroom Dancing’ is still a useful reference work for novice and experienced dancers who wish to “dance in the old fashioned way”. The ‘BBC Dancing Club’ continued being broadcast until the

Sunday, 20 March, 2016  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

The first American influence on Ballroom Dancing

It was just before, during and after the First World War that dances and dance music increasingly came to European ballrooms from North and South America. Much of this influence was due to the Anglo-American dancers Vernon and Irene Castle.

Vernon Castle (real name Vernon William Blythe) was an Englishman, born in Norwich, Norfolk in 1887. It was after moving to the United States he met, and subsequently married, Irene Foote. In 1911 Vernon and Irene Castle moved to Paris, France. Their cabaret act, including a number of American ragtime dances, became the sensation of Parisian society.

After returning to the United States, Vernon and Irene Castle appeared on Broadway, made a number of silent films, endorsed a number of dance music records and popularised a closer, more intimate dancing style than had hitherto been seen in the ballroom. Among the dances Vernon and Irene Castle helped popularise were the Foxtrot and the Tango which ultimately became standard Modern Ballroom dances.

Being British, after the outbreak of the First World War, in 1915 Vernon Castle wished to take part in the war and began flying lessons while remaining in the United States. Early the following year, he sailed for Britain and enlisted to the Royal Flying Corps. Vernon Castle served on the Western Front and was awarded the French Croix de Guerre.

In 1917 he was promoted to Captain and posted to Canada and then to the United States to train new pilots. On 15 February 1918, while piloting a training aircraft at Fort Worth, Texas, Captain Vernon Castle was accidentally killed in a crash while attempting to avoid a collision with another aircraft. The student cadet and the pilot of the other aircraft survived. Vernon Castle’s body was taken to New York City for burial.

Below is the Commonwealth War Graves Commission record for Captain Vernon Castle:
Rank: Captain
Date of Death: 15/02/1918
Regiment / Service:
Royal Flying Corps 43rd Wing
Grave Reference: Parkview Plot, Row 137, Grave 14166.
Additional Information:
Husband of Irene Castle Tremain, of Ithaca, New York.
Vernon and his wife, Irene, were a famous dancing team. Fred Astaire played the part of Vernon in the film, entitled "The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle" about the lives of the famous dancing pair.

The Hollywood film referred to in Vernon Castle’s CWGC citation was released in 1939 at the outbreak of the Second World War. Ginger Rogers played the part of Irene Castle. Yet again, she was partnered in the film by Fred Astaire taking on the role of Vernon Castle. 'Fred and Ginger' were the ideal couple to play the two leads in "The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle".

Sunday, 20 March, 2016  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

The second American influence on Ballroom Dancing

With the coming of the Second World War, and especially after the United States entered the war on the Allied side in December 1941, American dances, music and songs crossed the Atlantic with the troops. As has already been noted, one of these was the Jitterbug, which in British ballrooms developed into the Jive, most notably by Walter Laird. Another American dance that crossed the Atlantic during the war with the American troops was the Lindy Hop. This was another somewhat energetic ‘swing’ dance which was difficult to perform safely in a crowded dance hall.

The Second World War was also the Big Band or Swing era. It made for relatively easy listening on gramophone records and over the radio. Probably the best remembered is the Glenn Miller band, whose sound has influenced dancing and dance music ever since the war.

During his military service with the American forces during WW2, Glenn Miller led a popular Forces band in Europe and gave several hundred concerts. One of the terrible tragedies of the war was the disappearance of Major Glenn Miller’s aircraft while flying to Paris in December 1944. All occupants of the aircraft were posted ‘missing’ and the mystery of what happened has never been satisfactorily solved. Major Alton Glenn Miller is commemorated by the American Battle Monuments Commission at the Cambridge American Cemetery, Cambridgeshire, U.K.

In 1954, a Hollywood film dealing with the life and music of Glenn Miller, ‘The Glenn Miller Story’, was released. The heritage of his style of dance music has lasted ever since.

Below is the American Battle Monuments Commission memorial for Major Alton Glenn Miller:
Name: Alton G. Miller
War: World War II
Service # O-505273
Rank: Major, U.S. Army Air Forces
Unit: Army Air Force Band
Entered Service From: New Jersey
Date of Death: December 15, 1944
Status: Missing in Action
Memorialized: Tablets of the Missing
Cambridge American Cemetery, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Awards: Bronze Star

Sunday, 20 March, 2016  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

The Waltz, Polka, Schottische and sequence dances

At the outbreak of the Second World War dancing and music had long been an important part in the social life of British society and beyond. Dancing and dance music were international and in fact virtually all traditional ballroom dances had arrived from the European mainland in the 18th and 19th Centuries.

Originally, dancing in a ballroom was largely restricted to the affluent sectors of society. Think of the Fanny Burney’s ‘Evelina’, or the society depicted in the novels of Jane Austen. Dances were run with rigorous decorum and tended would have a set sequence of steps and moves.

The dances and the music at these balls may have represented the Romanticism of the age, but where were the ordinary people, those with trades? To tell the truth, those in trades tended not to attend the same soirees or do the same dances, at least until the late Victorian era. This was the time, from the mid-1890s onwards, that ballrooms, village halls, assembly rooms - dance halls even – were being built throughout Britain. If Britain led the way in building dance halls, then several other countries followed suit.

From the late 18th Century and throughout the 19th Century the main ballroom dance was the Waltz, a progressive dance which is widely believed to have evolved from a German / Austrian folk dance, the Ländler. Further, it is believed to have spread throughout Europe including Paris by soldiers in Napoleon’s army. From Paris, the dance spread to London and from there throughout the British Isles and beyond.

Many of the best known classical composers of the late 18th and 19th Centuries wrote or included Ländler (sometimes referred to as ‘German dances’) and in some cases Waltzes in their music. Many waltzes were written as piano solos and some as orchestral pieces. For example, Chopin and Brahms wrote many waltzes for the piano. Perhaps the most famous waltz music to dance to are the pieces composed by the Strauss family of Vienna, especially Johann Strauss I (father) and Johann Strauss II (son).

Other popular dances that spread throughout Europe during the 19th Century included the polka, schottische (a slightly slower version of the polka), the quadrille, the Lancers (a variation of the quadrille) and barn dance. As with the waltz, these dances tended to have a central European origin. In addition to his more widely known waltzes, Johann Strauss II (1825 – 1899), the Viennese “Waltz King”, composed music for a number of waltzes, polkas and quadrilles.

There were British composers of music of this genre in the late Victorian era. For example, in the 1880s and 1890s the Yorkshire born professor of music, John Byrne Senior (1851 – 1917) wrote a number of waltzes, polkas, schottisches, barn dances, etc. which were published as sheet music (see examples in photographs No. 3 and 4). J.B. Senior spent most of his adult life living in what is now Cumbria, although his music sheets were printed in Germany by the Leipzig firm of C.G. Röder.

Sunday, 20 March, 2016  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

The popularity of ‘Old Time’ or Sequence dancing in WW2

In the early years of the 20th Century and the greater number of venues where people could go for ballroom dancing a number of newer sequence dances came on the scene, such as the St Bernard’s Waltz, the Veleta and the Military Two Step. These sequence dances, as well as the Modern Ballroom and some of the Latin American dances such as the Jive, were all popular in the dance halls during the Second World War.

For example, below is an extract from a BBC “People’s War” contribution in 2005 by Mr Derek Feather, an Old Time dance teacher from Sheffield, South Yorkshire:

“I am writing this because I am fed up of watching programmes on the T.V., and hearing about other organisations, showing periods during the war, as if there was nothing else, other than Glenn Miller and the Jive, and yet, at the dances I went to the bands comprised of a cello, violin, a piano and drums, and sometimes an accordion band.

The dances, as far as I can remember, were old time dances like the St Bernard's Waltz, Doris Waltz, Veleta, Pride of Erin, Boston and Military Two step Maxina, Eva three step, Dinky One Step etc., plus the Foxtrot, Quickstep, Modern Waltz, Hokey Cokey, Palais Glide, Congo, and sometimes the Lancers.

As a Dedicated qualified old time dancing teacher and an area rep. for the old time dancing society, who ran 3 to 4 dances a week, I have checked on what I remember of a lot of the dancers. Many of them were in their 20's and a few in their 30's during the war, and all agree that the media has got it wrong.
Unfortunately, the film archives seem not to have any record of the 1000's of dances that raised a vast amount of money for the war effort, only the ‘Yankified’ ones.”
From: ‘Dancing during the War’ by Derek Feather,
BBC “People’s War” (Article ID: A4083121)
[A link to the complete “People’s War” story is given at the end of this article].

Another contribution to the BBC “People’s War” website about dancing was made by Frank Mee from Stockton-on-Tees in 2004. In his article, Frank explains that wartime ballroom dancing in Stockton included Old Time sequence dancing as well as dances to Victor Silvester’s ‘strict tempo’ Modern Ballroom and the Glenn Miller sound:

“I was quite tall and a quick learner, so I could soon do most of the old-fashioned dances, as they were called. In the interval, records would be played of the modern dances, so I got a feeling for the quickstep, waltz and foxtrot. It got to a point where I did not sit many of the dances out, so it was an early learning curve without doubt.

The Next Level
At age 14 I had the ego to be MC (master of ceremonies) at the monthly cadet dance. After organising the program with the leader of the four-piece band I would stand on the stage and announce the dances. It usually took the form of 'Mary, Joan, Tansy', or whoever was flavour of the month. 'You are my next partner and the next dance is chrysanthemum waltz, foxtrot, dashing white sergeant, or whatever.'

The MC always led off the dance with the other couples forming behind him until the circle was formed. I do not remember any refusals, so I honed my dancing skills with the best dancers. There would be mature couples as well - we had guests and the officers brought their wives. Those nights were very popular, we were never short of girls.

Church and school halls often doubled as dance halls for the young ones, it was to keep us out of trouble. Whatever that was, we never found out. The vicar or church workers would run the dances, mainly to a record player or on occasion a three-piece band. We got a night of Victor Silvester records though us scallywags would try and sneak a Glenn Miller onto the machine.”
From: ‘The Dance Hall, Wartime Escape’ by Frank Mee,
BBC “People’s War” (Article I.D. A2553761)
[A link to the complete “People’s War” story is given at the end of this article]
(N.B. Frank Mee was also one of the founder members of ‘Second World War Blogspot’).

Sunday, 20 March, 2016  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Popular Group dances

A small number of popular group dances helped get everyone, or almost everyone, on to the ballroom floor. These included the ‘Park Parade, the ‘Palais Glide’ and the ‘Hokey Cokey’.

One in particular, proved really popular and was condemned by Nazi propaganda as Jewish mischief and animalistic hopping"! It was the ‘Lambeth Walk’ and it was inspired by the ‘Lambeth Walk’ song from the 1937 stage musical ‘Me and My Girl’ starring the British actor, singer and dancer Lupino Lane.

The ‘Lambeth Walk’ song and dance became more popular in 1939 when a film version of ‘Me and My Girl’ was released. When the war broke out later in the year the verbal attack by the Nazis increased the popularity of the dance, the music and the song.

The British ‘Ministry of Information’ even made a short comical propaganda film in 1941, purporting to show the ‘Lambeth Walk – Nazi Style’. In reality, it used archive film of Adolf Hitler and marching German troops to make it look as though they were doing the ‘Lambeth Walk’!

It was not just the sound of Glenn Miller and Victor Silvester that was broadcast on the radio during the war. Reginald Dixon, whose performances from the world famous Blackpool Tower Ballroom had been broadcast before the war, joined the RAF ultimately attaining the rank of Squadron Leader. He was regularly called upon to entertain the services and was occasionally heard on the radio. Another popular pre-war dance orchestra led by Henry Hall continued to give concerts and shows to service personnel and in factories throughout Britain. Henry Hall continued to give regular radio broadcasts on the BBC throughout the war.

Sunday, 20 March, 2016  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

A wartime revival of ‘Old Time’ dancing

In the ballroom, it is music that makes the dance. Hence, the style of dancing is largely, if not wholly, determined by the music that is played. Modern Ballroom, Latin American, Old Time and other dances were all catered for throughout the war. Sometimes the dance music was provided by gramophone records while at other times it may have been a live band or soloist.

There were older musicians and dancers who were more familiar with the Old Time sequence dancing and music. Modern ballroom, Latin American and ‘swing’ were not always danced throughout the war.

For example, over the Christmas / New Year period of 1942 / 1943 at the West Cumbrian town of Egremont, there two festive balls where the dancing was exclusively Old Time sequence dancing. They were held on Boxing Day (26 December) 1942 and New Year’s Day 1943 in Egremont’s Market Hall near the Main Street [Photograph No. 2].

The music was provided by Mr John S. Dixon’s band who played Old Time sequence music as they had done before the First World War. According to the local weekly newspaper, the ‘Whitehaven News’, music scores which “… had been relegated to the limbo of forgotten tunes were hunted out by Mr John S. Dixon …” (such as those by the local Cumbrian “Waltz King John Byrne Senior seen in photographs No. 3 and No. 4). At these festive balls the Lancers, the polka, the Schottische and one assumes the Old Time Waltz were revived, as related in this account in the ‘Whitehaven News’ of Thursday 7 January 1943:


Energetic “Doos” at Egremont
Dance programmes in which not a single modern ballroom dance was included proved very popular at two dances organised in the Egremont Market Hall during the festive season by the Ullcoats Mines Benevolent Fund. Hundreds of middle-aged fathers and mothers danced themselves to a standstill whilst their sons and daughters sat watching the intricacies of the Lancers, Circassian Circle, polka, Schottische, barn dance and London Taps. Even grandparents were amongst the revellers and many of the men discarded jackets and waistcoats, so energetic was the dancing.

Music scores which had presumably been relegated to the limbo of forgotten tunes were hunted out by Mr. John S, Dixon, whose band provided music for programmes similar to these even before the last war. The functions held on the afternoons of Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, served not only as pleasant reminders of the “soirees” and “doos” of former years but also provided reunions for many people whom modern dancing has driven from the ballroom.

On both occasions there were upwards of 400 dancers and the promoters, with Mr R. Graham as Secretary and M.C., were complimented on their foresight. All the dances were performed in the real old-time style and the printed dance programmes were strictly adhered to.”

Sunday, 20 March, 2016  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...


Dancing, music and song were popular pastimes of WW2. It is the music of Glenn Miller and the American influence that is best remembered in the 21st Century. Yet, as has been seen there were other popular dances and dance music around that played an important part in keeping the world on its toes and provided a period of escape from the grim reality of war.

Is there a certain irony that some of the more popular wartime dances in the Allied countries, such as the waltz, had their roots in Germany or Austria? Perhaps, but only with hindsight. At the time, it did not appear to be so. Music and dance has always been able to cross international borders and overcome cultural differences.

For a few years after the war, the dance hall and the dance styles and music of the war years remained one of the more popular social activities in the lands that were at war between 1939 and 1945. In fact, Germany and Japan became enthusiastic exponents of Ballroom Dancing. The dance music and text books on dancing by Victor Silvester became best sellers. A few years later, couples from Germany and Japan were making the finals of the World Professional and Amateur Ballroom Dancing championships.

For many of these competitive dancers from Germany and Japan, their dream was to dance in the celebrated Blackpool Tower ballroom on England’s North-west coast. Thus, it can be seen that the ballroom dancing and dance music of the war years eventually began to bring together the young people of former warring nations. It is surely better for young people from all nations to be dancing to the sound of music than fighting each other to the sound of machine gun fire.

Yet, the fashionable styles of dancing and dance music have never been static. Throughout the history of the dance, dancing and dance music has continually changed. In the mid-1950s ‘Rock and Roll’ spread throughout the world, due in no small part to the influence of Bill Haley and the Comets. In the 1960s and 1970s many dance halls closed or were converted to a more profitable use, such as Bingo Halls.

Those places that did retain dance floors were often drastically reduced in size which made opportunities more difficult for couples to “… dance in the old-fashioned way”. This is, of course, the theme running through Charles Aznavour’s 1973 song referred to at the beginning if this article. However, dancing in the “old-fashioned way”, has never completely disappeared and hopefully never will!

Sunday, 20 March, 2016  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...


“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”
[Friedrich Nietzsche]

This article is dedicated to the composers, band leaders, musicians and dancers who have kept the world on its toes through music and dance and especially those who did so during the two World Wars. May there always be a place in the world for dancing in the “old-fashioned way”!

Sunday, 20 March, 2016  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Further reading and information

Suggested books:
Silvester, Victor M. (1958), “Dancing is My Life”, Wm. Heinemann Ltd., London
Silvester, Victor M. (1949, republished 2008), “Old Time Dancing”, Thomas Press, Nashville, Tennessee (USA)

Suggested online reading and viewing:
Click on the links listed below for selected online reading / viewing:

Link to the “BBC People’s War” article for the personal memories of wartime dancing in Hampshire and London by Andé Lyons:
Dancing Through the War Years

Link to the “BBC People’s War” article for the personal memories of wartime dancing in Stockton-on-Tees and Port Said, Egypt by Frank Mee:
The Dance Hall, Wartime Escape

Link to the “BBC People’s War” article for the personal memories of wartime dancing in South Yorkshire by Derek Feather:
Dancing during the War

Link to the “BBC People’s War” article about Victor Silvester’s “BBC Dancing Club”:
Victor Silvester’s ‘BBC Dancing Club’

Link to a short clip from one of the T.V. broadcasts of Victor Silvester’s ‘BBC Dancing Club’:
Victor Silvester introducing an episode of the ‘BBC Dancing Club

Link to the “BBC People’s War” article about the ‘Dual Dancers’ (Frank and Peggy Spencer and Walter Laird and Andé Lyons):
‘Dual Dancers’

Link to a film clip from the 1935 Hollywood film “Top Hat” where Fred Astaire sings “Cheek to Cheek” while dancing with Ginger Rogers:
‘Cheek to Cheek’ (Fred Astaire in ‘Top Hat’)

Link to a 1938 British Pathé film clip about two “new” dances, the ‘Palais Glide’ and the ‘Lambeth Walk’:
‘New Dances for Everybody’ (1938)

Link to the unforgettable Charles Aznavour singing “The Old Fashioned Way” (English language version):
’The Old Fashioned Way’ (Charles Aznavour at Carnegie Hall, New York)

Link to an earlier article on this website about wartime dancing, Victor Silvester and Glenn Miller, etc.:
‘Keeping the World on its toes’

Sunday, 20 March, 2016  
Blogger Cathie said...

Thank you, Joseph, for this very entertaining and useful post.
You might be amused to know that when Charles Aznavour first sang this song, we all thought it would never be a hit, that it was "old-fashioned" in its tune and lyrics... only to be proved wrong, and to love the song ourselves after listening to it but a couple of times!

Monday, 21 March, 2016  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Thanks for the additional insight, Catherine. Charles Aznavour has surely been one of France's greatest and most enduring all round entertainers.

Tuesday, 22 March, 2016  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Peggy Spencer, M.B.E. (24 September 1920 – 25 May 2016)

Peggy Spencer, seen on the left in photograph No. 1 dancing with Victor Silvester, has passed away peacefully in a hospital in Norfolk at the age of 95. Born Margaret Ann Hull in Kent in 1920, Peggy began dancing seriously during WW2 and eventually teamed up with her second husband, Frank Spencer, as a professional ballroom and Latin American dancer and dance teacher, especially of formation dancing. Together with Walter Laird and Andé Lyons (seen on the right in photograph No. 1) , Frank and Peggy made up the ‘Dual Dancers’. Part of the act was effectively a two-couple formation team in miniature.

As a dance teacher and choreographer, at times Peggy Spencer also worked dancers and musicians better known different genres, including the ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev. In 1967, Peggy Spencer choreographed the video for the ultimate pop group of the 1960s, The Beatles, to go with their song “Your Mother Should Know”.

It is as a dance teacher of successful formation dancing teams that Peggy Spencer will probably be best remembered.

Click on the following link to read an obituary of Peggy Spencer (‘The Guardian’):
Peggy Spencer (1920 – 2016) obituary

Click on the following link to see the video of ‘Your Mother Should Know’ by The Beatles, choreographed by Frank and Peggy Spencer with ballroom dancers from their formation dancing teams (1967):
Your Mother Should Know (The Beatles)

Monday, 30 May, 2016  

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