The easy going, vibrant energy that Latin rhythms inspire make Latin American dance as popular today as when it was first brought to this country in the 1930s. It was a young man from the Basque region of France, Monsieur Pierre, who introduced this style to the English Dance scene. Pierre was an accomplished dancer and teacher, with a special love and flair for Latin American dance. Rumba, Samba, Paso Doble, Jive and Cha Cha Cha were to become established favourites.
The Latin American Faculty was formed in 1946 by Monsieur Pierre, his partner Doris Lavelle, and colleague, Doris Nichols. They were later joined by Gwenethe Walshe and Dimitri Petrides. This small band of dedicated specialists worked vigorously to establish an examination system of set syllabus for both amateur and professional dancers. A high standard of excellence in dance was set by these founder members and continues to be nurtured and developed by the present day committee of specialists who include top competitive coaches, world renowned technicians and choreographers, specialists in movement dynamics and experts in current trends of leisure, medallist and competitive dance.
The Latin American Faculty offers dance and enjoyment to all. The fun and liveliness of the dances hold a strong appeal for people of all ages. Children as young as three years old enjoy 'baby Samba' and 'cheerful Cha Cha Cha'. As confidence, poise and strength of limbs increases from dance, so do the number of dances in which the boys and girls can participate. As for the older teenager and young adult, Cha Cha Cha and Jive are definitely the dances with street credibility.
While the classic Rumba, exciting Paso Doble and Rhythmic Samba provide an irresistable challenge to the keen dancer, adults of all ages find the activity of dance relaxes the mind, uplifts spirits and invigorates the body, making it an altogether great leisure activity. There is something for everyone in the ISTD Medal system.
The taking of examinations is a good way of measuring your improvement. This improvement is inevitable when you train with a well qualified ISTD teacher. There are badges to be won which are specially geared to the under eights, social tests covering all the Latin dances for all ages and then there are the Medal Grades - Bronze through to Supreme Award.
For medallists who enjoy the thrill of competing against others of their grade, the ISTD run three major competitions a year, plus smaller area competitions. This year there will be the Grand Finals Day in November at the famous Tower Ballroom in Blackpool. With the realisation that activity is essential to a healthy lifestyle and maintenance of a trim figure, and in the knowledge that the creativity of dance stimulates the mind, sense and body, we can appreciate the many benefits of dance. Dance is a wonderful way of making friends and enjoying a social evening in the warm and friendly atmosphere of your local dance studio.