Tribute to Alex Moore
6 January 2011
We take another look at some of the tributes that were printed about Alex on his death in 1991.
I was looking at Alex Moore's Ballroom Dancing book recently on behalf of the publishers A&C Black and thought that many of our younger readers may not remember him. It was with this in mind that I suggested this page. Further information can be found in issue 441 of DANCE (October – December). It is so important that our history is written down before it is lost so if any readers have particular memories that they would like to share, either of personalities or events connected with the ISTD, please email me at CLDVK@aol.com.
The following tributes are reproduced here exactly as they appeared in DANCE magazine, Summer 1991.
Alex Moore was an internationally known lecturer, teacher and adjudicator on Ballroom dancing.
Moore was born in Essex in 1901, the son of a Ballroom dancing teacher, who introduced him to the art at an early age. In his youth he was a very keen sportsman. He played in the All-England Snooker Championships, had a golf handicap of six, and was an excellent tennis player. Moore's name first appeared on a bill in 1923 when he danced at a Blues Dance in the Prince's Gallery in London.
Moore went into accountancy at the age of 20 but later became manager of the Prince's Dance Hall in Richmond at a salary of £500 a year. That is more than he would have earned in five years at the accountancy office. He was second in the world championships with his sister Avis in 1926. With his sister he started a dancing school also at the Prince's Hall in Richmond. There he danced with Miss Pat Kilpatrick, who became his regular partner after Avis Moore's marriage, and who he married in 1947.
Moore's importance in the world of Ballroom dancing derived from his leading role in teaching and promoting it internationally. Because of the amount of travel he did he was once referred to as 'The Globe Foxtrotter'. In 1926, along with Victor Sylvester and other leading dance figures, he founded the Ballroom Branch of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, the largest dance teachers' organisation in the world. At the time there were many different dance styles but no formal agreement on technique. Moore and the society established firm guidelines for the steps and style of dances like the Foxtrot, Quickstep and Tango which are still recognised today. In the Fifties and Sixties, Moore was for 16 years President of the International Council of Ballroom Dancing. Prior to this there had been no organisation which coordinated or represented the various countries participating in dance. Along with Philip Richardson, then editor of Dancing Times, Moore was instrumental in gaining the support and patronage of key dancing dignitaries for the council.
In 1932, he was invited by the South African Dance Teachers' Association to head a lecture-tour throughout South Africa on 'Current Trends and Techniques and How to Dance Better'. During the tour Moore became aware of the general shortage of material and information available. One South African teacher asked Moore to write with news of what was happening in the Ballroom-dancing world in Britain. The result was The Alex Moore Monthly Letter Service – a monthly newsletter which was started in 1933, and later translated and sent to over 32 countries including the US, Japan, New Zealand and Australia. It included technical queries, guidelines for training for technical examinations, articles on trends and fashions in dancing and critical reviews of international championships. In 1959, Moore toured the United States supervising examinations for the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, and set up an American branch of the society.
Moore's technical know-how, interest in encouraging budding dancers and his desire to formalise style led him to write Ballroom Dancing – first published in 1936, and now in its ninth edition, it has sold some 300,000 copies. It is a comprehensive handbook which describes standard techniques for beginners, competition dancers and students of Ballroom dancing.
An appreciation by Harry Smith-Hampshire, President of the National Association of Teachers of Dancing
Throughout the world of Ballroom dancing there will be sadness that Alex Moore, the man who has done more than any other single person to influence the development of dancing and dancers in this century has finally passed away. All our thoughts and condolences are with Pat, his wife and Patricia, his daughter, in their bereavement.
But Alex Moore will never be forgotten. All who met him – and it is doubtful if there is a continent that he has not visited as a pioneer of Ballroom dancing – will have their own memories of Alex. On my very first visit as a dancer to take part in a Continental competition, I heard Alex spoken of as the Pope of Ballroom dancing. It struck me at the time as a most apt description. It is doubtful whether anyone has done more to spread the gospel of Ballroom dancing than Alex Moore. His school in Kingston-upon-Thames, almost took on the character of a national shrine, to which a constant stream of students still make pilgrimage each year.
When he was not responding to the pressures and demands on his time as a teacher at his Zeeta Studio, he would be travelling the world adjudicating and lecturing; or presiding, as the elder statesman of dance world politics, at the International Council of Ballroom Dancing, or conferring with and advising the governing bodies of dancing in various countries of the world.
Alex had prodigious energy! His output as a writer would have been more than enough to have kept most people fully occupied. The Alex Moore Letter Service to teachers of dancing went out to an ever-increasing number of countries from 1934, month by month, year in and year out. Covering all aspects of Ballroom and Latin American dancing, it embraced technical matters, emerging trends, and new variations together with all other information which could possibly be of use to the professional.
His books on Ballroom dancing were first published at the same time as those by Victor Silvester, and were just as successful at reaching the bookshelf of the average household where there was an interest in dance.
Born at the end of the last century, Alex was an accomplished dancer by the 1920s. Though he did win dance championships with his charming wife, Pat Kilpatrick, he preferred demonstrating as a physical outlet. But his outstanding talent lay in communication; in writing and speaking on the technique of the dance. His Revised Technique of Ballroom Dancing is still the undisputed 'bible' of teachers and students everywhere.
A wielder of power, he exercised great charm and diplomacy and was successively the President of the National Association of Teachers of Dancing, the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, and the International Council of Ballroom Dancing. His talent for problem-solving was equalled by his willingness to express strong forthright opinions. He was a leading formative influence on most of the rules which govern international dancing.
Alex, extrovert, gregarious, with a great zest for life, loved to be where the action was; that was, at the most important dancing occasions and championships throughout the world, where he would always be one of the focal points of attention. Wherever dancers gather he will be missed!
Alex Moore, Ballroom dancer and teacher, born Essex 10th November 1901, Chairman Ballroom Branch of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing 1948–86, MBE 1976, married 1947 Pat Kilpatrick, died Ashley Park, Surrey 26th February 1991.
This article first appeared in The Independent on 7th March 1991 and is reproduced with permission. The reference to Alex Moore by his surname was to conform to that paper's style. Bill Irvine has asked us to point this out, and to say that throughout their working lives the two were great friends, and were accustomed to addressing each other in far less formal tones.
Above photo: Alex Moore teaching