Zelia Raye was a dynamic pioneer of dance in the 1920s. Her article Limbering and Stretching, which appeared in the Dancing Times (1927) and her book Rational Limbering, offered a revoltionary approach to dancing. As a result of Raye's ideas the ISTD established the Stage Branch (later to become the Modern Theatre Faculty) in 1932 and invited Zelia Raye to create the first syllabus.
Modern Theatre Dance defies a single permanent definition. This is largely due to its ability to adapt, develop and evolve with the changing fashion in dance. Through a carefully planned and well-tried examination syllabus, which combines modern dance, jazz and other dance styles, young people are trained to become disciplined and versatile dancers who have a professional attitude towards dance.
A series of examinations has been created from children's grades through to professional teaching qualifications. The children's work is based on natural movements: walking, running, jumping and skipping. It is designed to encourage an imaginative and rapid response from beginners. The Jazz Awards provide a basic grounding in modern jazz, and are ideal for the late beginner or as a recreational course of movement. Boys' work has been developed to meet increasing demand for a modern dance training for boys.
At the ISTD Congress the Faculty's programme reflects the diversity of modern dance as invited guests from the theatre give lecture demonstrations. By maintaining close ties with the profession the Faculty ensures that the syllabi reflect the trends in the theatre. Courses are organised throughout the country and abroad and these ensure that the standards of quality are maintained at a national and international level.
A highlight of the calendar is the Janet Cram Awards. The Junior, Senior and Premier awards are for boys and girls from 8 - 16 years old who are trained in the work of the faculty