1. You are here:
  2. Home
  3. Discover
  4. Our history


A brief overview

The Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing was established in 1904 and it is the dedication of generations of teachers and dance educationalists that ensures the continued worldwide reputation for dance excellence.

The Imperial Society of Dance Teachers (as it was first known) was formed on 25 July 1904 at the Hotel Cecil in Covent Garden, London. A council of management was formed under the presidency of Robert Morris Crompton and in 1906 the first Congress of the Society was held. These technical schools lasted eight days and were attended by forty-two members. Congresses have been held ever since, with the exception of the war years 1915–1917.  

In September 1907 the first issue of "Dance Journal" (now known as Dance Magazine) was published and in 1909 Major Cecil H Taylor succeeded Robert Morris Crompton as President. By 1913 the Society consisted of 132 members with a cash balance of £104!

The development of the Society was restricted during and after World War One and it wasn't until 1924 that the foundations of the present structure of the Society were established by the formation of separate Branches (now Faculties). By 1930 the number of members had passed 2000. 1925 saw a change of name to the "Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing"


As well as the Operatic and General, new branches were formed to deal with the following techniques: Modern Ballroom Dancing; Classical; Classical Ballet Cecchetti Method; Greek Dance - Ruby Ginner Method; Natural Movement - Madge Atkinson Method. In 1931 the Stage Branch was formed to provide a basic training for all dance and embraced specialist stage techniques. The expansion as a result of this restructuring was immense. By 1935 membership had risen to 3000 and by 1938 reached 4000.

Upon the outbreak of the Second World War, the activities of the Society were greatly reduced but did not cease. The Dance Journal was suspended, but a quarterly bulletin was published. Subscriptions were reduced and a smaller administrative Council appointed. Restricted examinations, Annual Congresses and General Meetings continued.

In 1945 the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing became an Incorporated body. The special licence granted by the Board of Trade was a recognition of the Society's stability. On Major Taylor's retirement in 1945 Mr Victor Silvester became Chairman, the administrative status of President having been discontinued on incorporation. In 1953 the Grand Council of the Society was formed. On his retirement in 1958, Mr Cyril Beaumont became Chairman and the status of President became an honorary one, Mr Silvester being the first elected to that office.


As the profession expanded in the post-war years, it became apparent that the teachers' need for an authoritative and comprehensive syllabus in each technique could be best supplied by the formation of specialist branches (now called Faculties) in each form of dance, and the remaining branches of the Society were created: Victorian and Sequence Dance Branch, 1948; Latin American Dance Branch, 1951; Historical Dance Branch, 1952; National Dance Branch, 1952 and Scottish Country Dance Branch, 1953.

The Disco/Freestyle/Rock 'n' Roll Faculty was formed in 1990 to cater for the forms of social dance suggested by the creative freedom of popular music. The South Asian Dance Faculty was formed in 1999, and the name changed to Classical Indian Dance Faculty in 2013. In 2002 due to the success of the Modern Theatre Faculty it was necessary to split the Faculty into two, creating the Modern Theatre Faculty and the Tap Dance Faculty. Today the Society has more than 6000 members in over 59 countries throughout the world and holds 120,000 examinations each year.