Genée’s influence on the Academy

We take a look back at our first elected President of the Royal Academy of Dance, Dame Adeline Genée. These are some of the lesser known instances that she has truly made an impact in furthering the Academy’s reputation, regionally and internationally.

Adeline Genée in the Hunting Dance solo from ‘High Jinks’, 1904. Photo by Hana Studios.

Royal Connections

Queen Alexandra was the daughter of the King of Denmark and Genée had appeared as a guest artist at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen in the presence of the King and his daughters in 1902.

In 1905 Genée was asked to appear by Royal Command at Chatsworth for King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, an honour that was unprecedented in this country at the time. She performed her famous ‘Hunting Dance’ solo from the ballet High Jinks.

In 1923, Queen Alexandra extended her patronage to the Associations First Annual Matinée performance at the Gaiety Theatre.

Positions of the arms

In 1922, Genée gave a demonstration of the five positions of the arms which the ‘Association’ had decided to adopt as the fundamental ones for the purposes of examinations. The event was held at the studios of Miss Jeanie Smurthwaite and was well attended with around 65 members present on the afternoon of Sunday 8 January.

Genée’s silver bon-bon tray.

Following the demonstration, Madame Genée was presented with a small silver bon-bon tray which had been subscribed for by many of the members and was purchased by the Academy at auction in 2011.

Madame Genée later posed for a series of photographs showing the five positions of the arms and the correct way to group the fingers. The full set of photographs with explanatory notes were published in the Dancing Times magazine in April 1922.

South Africa

Genée had done a great deal for South Africa, generously giving a silver trophy which had been awarded her in America in 1911 (‘as the world’s greatest dancer’). This was awarded as a prize for the student who gave the best artistic impression in the Solo Seal dances. This is still awarded, every year, to a dancer who is also sponsored to complete the Genée awards in London.

British Ballet in Denmark

In 1932 Genée arranged for an ‘English ballet Company’ to perform at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen as part of the British Industries Fair. The company was made up of RAD Members and famous British ballet names such as Alicia Markova and Anton Dolin. Ninette de Valois directed the performances.  While in Copenhagen, the ‘company’ enjoyed a visit to the Tuborg brewery!

Photo by N. Laugesen.