Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Dual Dancers in Cabaret

The 'Dual Dancers' in action
(Left to right: Peggy Spencer, Frank Spencer, Walter Laird, Andé Lyons)
Photograph from collection of Mrs Andé Tyrer (Lyons)
Among the more positive legacies of the Second World War were music and dancing, especially after the Americans entered the war in 1941. They brought with them new styles of music - most notably perhaps that of the Glenn Miller Orchestra - and exciting rhythmical dances such as the Jitterbug.

Ballroom Dancing was already a popular activity in Britain before the war and Victor Silvester - leader of a Dance Orchestra, a dance teacher and a former World Professional Dance Champion - was known all over the world. Among the best known Ballroom Dancers during and after the war were the 'Dual Dancers': Frank Spencer and Peggy Spencer and Walter Laird and Andé Lyons (seen in the photograph above).
(For additional information click on 'Comments' below')

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Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information

The 'Dual Dancers' was basically a cabaret act of two couples in formation in miniature. In addition, one couple might demonstrate a Latin American style dance on their own while the other couple would change their outfit to dance a different Latin American style dance. For example, Frank and Peggy would demonstrate the Rumba, and then Walter and Andé would demonstrate the Samba. Both couples would then come on the floor together for a grand finale. I have it on good authority that the unorthodox Jive danced by 'Laird and Lyons' - which Walter adapted from the American Jitterbug - always received a rousing reception from an enthusiastic audience!

In later years, Frank and Peggy became even better known for training Formation Dancing Teams (Ballroom and Latin) especially after the 'Come Dancing' competition began on BBC TV in 1949. During the Second World War Frank went out to Nigeria for a time and trained a Samba and Rumba Formation Team among the local population. This team initially performed in a 'Black and White Review' in Lagos and then toured the country, entertaining the garrison troops and the local population.

After the war, the Frank and Peggy Spencer Penge Formation Team became perhaps the best known Formation Dancing Team in the world. The wide experience and knowledge they had built up during the war no doubt a great help in developing dancing in many different countries, including South Africa and Germany.

During the Cold War, there was one memorable occasion when the Penge and Dresden Formation Teams swapped partners, the gentlemen leading the ladies in each other’s dance routine. Friendship, fun and a shared enjoyment of music and dance really have no boundaries.

Much of the style and rhythm of Ballroom and Latin American dancing, popularised anew in the early 21st Century through Pro-Celebrity dance competitions such as 'Strictly Come Dancing' (UK) and 'Dancing with the Stars' (USA), can be traced to the Second World War. Virtually everyone can enjoy dancing, music and share enjoyable evenings among friends and family.

Dancing provided a much needed relief for everyone in the dark days of the war, and it has done so ever since. In fact, books about dancing written by Victor Silvester, Peggy Spencer and Walter Laird still tend to be among the standard texts used by dancers in the modern era.

Wednesday, 26 November, 2008  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

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Wednesday, 26 November, 2008  

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