King’s Somborne WI met on Wednesday 8th January with our president Mrs Sarah Pennington in the chair. After a short business meeting our speaker, Mrs Bronda Dosset, told us about her ‘Passion for Dance’.
Bronda told us how she started dancing at the age of 4 to strengthen her ankles. Following training in ballet, tap, and contemporary dance she attended a teacher training course at the Imperial Ballet School in St. Petersburg. This led to her spending her working life performing, lecturing, and running her own School of Dance.
Bronda told us that her most memorable dancers are Fred Astaire and Pavlova.
Fred Astaire, danced first with his sister Adele and later with Ginger Rogers. He popularised tap dancing through performing on stage and in 41 films. In these he pioneered new ways of filming dance concentrating in long shots showing the whole set rather than on close-ups of the dancers.
Anna Pavlova was born in 1881 and trained at the Imperial Ballet in St. Petersburg before progressing into their ballet company under Diaghilev. However, she enjoyed travel and in 1910 she moved to London to start her own company with which she toured the world, performing in the five continents to great success – the ‘Pavlova’ dessert was first conceived to celebrate her performances in Australia.
We then learned about the manufacture of ballet and tap shoes. The ballet shoes for professional dancers are all hand- made and cost £50 a pair. They wear out so quickly that ballerinas may have to change several times during a performance – costing up to £1,000 per month for each dancer. No wonder the tickets for the ballet are so expensive! Professional tap dancers have special taps made of three separate layers of metal which are screwed to the heels and toes. The tone they make can be altered by tightening or loosening the screws and all serious dancers carry their own screw drivers.
We did not finish the evening with dancing but did the next best thing when we learned by clapping our hands about the different rhythms of tap dancing ending up with syncopation.
All in all a most enjoyable evening!
We meet again on Wednesday 12th February when Mrs Terri Robinson will brighten up our winter with her talk ‘Hawaiian Islands’