History of Imperial Classical Ballet
The international artists appearing in London theatres were supported by less well-known English dancers. These were influenced by the impressive standard of training seen particularly with the Russian artists and they were eager to improve their own skills in order to further their careers. As a result, several influential schools of dance were opened in London by artist teachers such as Serafina Astafieva, Enrico Cecchetti, Marie Rambert and Nicolai Legat. This growth in dance schools also reflected the national interest in the development of a healthy lifestyle, a fitter population and an antidote to the cumulative pressures of industrialisation. Even so-called child prodigies could be seen, emulating the dances of the popular professional stars and often dancing en pointe.
To address this resurgence of interest in both theatre and social dance, from its inception in 1904 the early work of the Imperial Society of Dance Teachers (as the Society was then known) focused on the two dance genres of ballroom and operatic, the latter being the term given to ballet because of its place in opera productions throughout the 19th century. In these early years there were no branches or faculties and the work of the Society in promoting the advancement of dance training was through technical schools that lasted several days. Lecturers and teachers connected with these included Noreen Bush, Felix Demery, Jeanie Smurthwaite and recognised dance personalities such as Karsarvina and Sokolova.