There’s a first time for everything…

We recently celebrated 100 years since our first RAD Exam. Take a look at some other RAD ‘firsts’ in our 100 year history.

The Association’s first postal address

Major Exams taking place in the studio at Holland Park Avenue. A Central Office of Information photo, 1952.

The Association’s first postal address was on Wellington Street, London where it shared the offices of The Dancing Times. Phillip Richardson, in his role as Secretary, carried out communication on behalf of the Association from his Dancing Times office. Practical classes and exams took place in the studios for early members until another premises was secured at 154 Holland Park Avenue in 1923, which was described as ‘a house with a fine ballroom ideal for examinations, in which a barre was hastily placed in time for the autumn examinations.”

To this day at 36 Battersea Square, we share a building with The Dancing Times.

The Academy’s first year of progress

By the Academy’s first year the Association could be well pleased with its progress; of 161 candidates during the year, 107 had passed their elementary exam and been accepted as members. The Intermediate Syllabus was born, to which would only be open to members.

As one of the first probationers to be accepted as a Member of the Association, Peggy Whiteley was awarded her certificate – signed by all of the original members of the Association’s founding committee after successfully passing the Elementary Examination session in 1921.

First Matinee performance at the Gaiety Theatre

In November 1923, came the First Matinee performance at the Gaiety Theatre – which attracted a large audience, not only of friends and relatives of the students who performed, but of those anxious to see Dame Adeline Genée perform for the first time in seven years – in which The Dancing Times called “a scrupulously authentic representation of some eighteenth century dances.” It was to be the first of many.

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

First children’s exams

In March and April 1924, the first children’s (amateur) examinations were held and 532 candidates from London and the provinces set out to show examiners the four foot positions, how they could bend their knees in first and second positions, how to ‘walk on their toes’ and how to demonstrate the Greek Walk, Mercury and Bacchante balance and form ‘athletic, sorrowful and joyous friezes.’ It was safe to say, this was a huge success – and in the winter, over 600 applicants were seen within 9 days.

Page from the Dancing Times. 1926.


Pauline Crankshaw who achieved 94% in her Grade 1 examination.

Earliest recorded gift donation

The earliest recorded gift donation was by Reverend Stewart Headlam. He was an advocate of good relations between the church and the stage and a great educationalist. A great admirer of ballet, and friend of Dame Adeline Genée, he attended many of the Dancer’s Circle dinners and was a great supporter of the move to obtain state recognition for the teachers of dancing. (see Dancing Times Obituary, December 1924.)

Stewart Headlam Bequest.

First Solo Seal

In 1928, Solo Seal was established and were intended for exam candidates who had achieved the advanced certificate of the Association who would have to dance a ‘purely operatic solo arranged by herself to music of her own selection’, a character dance and an impromptu variation set by the judges. Dame Adeline Genée also proposed the annual award of a gold medal, which her husband Frank Isitt donated, and which is still annually awarded. Silver and bronze medals were later also offered for competition, presented by Felix Demery and Phyllis Bedells.

First International Summer School

In 1965, the first international summer school was jointly developed by Kathleen Gordon and Louise Browne at Elmhurst School of Camberley. Teachers and dancers attended from America, Canada, New Zealand and the UK; Dame Marie Rambert, Karsavina and Fonteyn went out to speak and there were classes and lectures by Dolin, Idzikowski, John Gilpin, Ruth French and many others.

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