History of Classical Greek Dance
She formed her own band of Grecian Dancers but turned to teaching at the onset of the First World War. Through teaching she met Irene Mawer (1893 –1962) who became a mime expert, and in 1920 they established the Ginner Mawer School of Dance and Drama. The School continued until 1954 when Ginner retired from full-time teaching. Although she always emphasised that Greek Dance was born in the theatre, for the theatre, it was also taught in other contexts and for other functions. For example, during the Second World War Classical Greek Dance was taught in the Forces, in Japanese concentration camps and in hospitals. The Ginner Mawer dancers also appeared on television in 1936. Ruby Ginner wrote two books, The Revived Greek Dance (1933) and Gateway to the Dance (1960) in which she presented her technique and its rationale. She always paid tribute to Effie Stewart Williams (1887–1995) for her anatomical expertise; Irene Mawer for her knowledge of drama and mime and Nancy Sherwood (1908–1995) because of her understanding of Greek Art and her outstanding ability in the creation and execution of technical movements.
The Classical Greek Dance Technique
Ginner’s original technique, with adaptations, is still being taught today and includes a study from nature in every examination. Traditionally the syllabus work has used a piano accompaniment. Special gramophone records were made before the advent of tapes and CDs but a pianist was always required for examinations and preferred for class work. However, it has become accepted that Classical Greek Dance can be accompanied not only by all types of music but also by words, by the sounds of nature, or even by silence. For examinations the Classical Greek dancer performs with bare feet and in a classic style tunic which has undergone slight changes over the years. For example, currently the male dancer’s costume is simply a T-shirt with shorts or footless tights or an all-in-one leotard. In today’s world Classical Greek Dance, Ruby Ginner method, can be of benefit in so many different ways. Its basic technique has simple exercises for the whole body and therefore is accessible to most people from infants to senior citizens and from the amateur participant to the professional. It can underpin all forms of dance training as it nurtures dramatic expression, develops musicality and encourages creativity. Its link with the natural world is relevant to today’s interest in the subject and knowledge of Ancient Greek civilization can foster connections with its literature, art and philosophy.