Margaret Jaffé (née Dixon-Phillip) BEM
11 March 2014
Margaret Jaffé, aged 90, was awarded a British Empire Medal for services to dance in the New
Years Honours list. A long over due honour as her contribution to dance has been immense.
Margaret Jaffé is a Fellow of the ISTD, a former examiner and member of the National Dance Faculty Committee, receiving the Imperial Award in 1999. She was a unique and wonderful teacher, always instilling in her students a great love and enjoyment of dance.
Margaret knew she wanted to be a dance teacher from the age of four and travelled weekly to Manchester as a young student to study with Mary Archbutt. Margaret also studied piano and composition at the Royal Manchester College of Music, (now the Royal Northern College of Music) and regularly played the piano for dance classes at the same time as teaching. She established the Dixon-Phillip Stage School in Grassington, Yorkshire in 1948 which led to the Skipton and Ilkley-based Northern Dance Centre. In 1960 Margaret took over the already established Braybrooks Academy in Bradford where she introduced general education which ran alongside the dance curriculum.
Margaret formed her first student theatre group during the First World War, while working for Northern Command Voluntary Entertainments Services. Her brief was to provide song and dance shows for the troops who were of differing nationalities and thus her lifelong interest in folk dance was born.
Northern Lights theatre group has represented England on six occasions at the biennial World Folk Dance Festival gaining the silver Medal in 2005. They are regular competitors at the International Musical Eisteddfod in Llangollen, Wales, where they became World Champions in 2009, winning the prestigious Folk Dance Group First Prize.
In 2007, Margaret retired from teaching. Many of her pupils have now become professional dancers, such as David Gayle MBE, founder of the Yorkshire Ballet Seminars and formerly soloist with The Royal Ballet, Angela Robinson who partnered Wayne Sleep in Dash and The Hot Shoe Show and Hannah Coates who is now a soloist with the Hamburg Ballet in Germany.
Margaret’s husband Nigel Allenby-Jaffé, a former concert pianist, also has a great interest in folk dance and together they have travelled all over Europe collecting and recording information. They have produced a wonderful collection of books on various aspects of folk dance, all of which are invaluable sources of information for students of National Dance.
Margaret’s contribution to the National Dance Faculty over the years has been immense; as a teacher, examiner, committee member, researcher, author and general source of information on ‘all things national’! Thank you Margaret for the wealth of knowledge you have given us and we are delighted about your well deserved award.
Robert Harrold and Jacqueline Ferguson (with thanks to Amy Addison for supplying additional information)
Photo (above): Margaret Jaffé (née Dixon-Phillip) BEM
Photo credit: Craven Herald