Mrs. Staniforth's Dancing Class

Information supplied by two former pupils

By Jean Cross

The Sleeping Princess C1949/1950
Frank H. Meads of Essendon

The Staniforth School of Dancing
Marion Staniforth opened her School of Dancing in the autumn of 1945.
The first classes were held in the Memorial Hall where the following year the first concert was given.
Classes moved to the Congregational Hall and later to the large room above the Co-operative Store (near to the old Bus Station in St. Albans Road).
Further classes were later started in John Pygram’s old studio, just off Victoria Street in St. Albans.
Pupils were regularly entered into Ballet examinations run by the Royal Academy of Dance and for Bronze, Silver and Gold medals in Tap Dancing awarded by the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing. In both branches pupils achieved good results.
Mrs Staniforth put on annual shows raising funds for charity. Mothers made costumes and fathers helped with construction, set painting and lighting. Music was provided by Mrs. Hill on the piano and Mr. Hill on Rhythm.
The shows included Babes in the Wood, The Wizard of Oz, Aladdin and The Sleeping Princess. One year at least Mrs. Staniforth provided dancers for the pantomime at Hill End Hospital.
In 1953 Mrs. Staniforth choreographed the dances for Coronation performances of Edward German’s “Merrie England” which was performed beside the lake at Luton Hoo. A group of her pupils were among the dancers. The principal singers were Anne Zeigler and Webster Booth, music by the band of the Irish Guards.It may have been the same summer that there was a dancing display in the sunken garden of the Old Palace in which one dance to the “Trisch Trasch Polka” was designed around the pond.
Mrs. Staniforth enjoyed a challenge. On one occasion and with a few days notice, she was asked if some of her students would entertain the Queen Mother after luncheon, for a short while. The Queen Mother often visited Lord and Lady Salisbury at Hatfield House. Students past and present presented a good show.
Another challenge was being asked by a local football club to help the footballers limber up and develop more flexibility and suppleness.
Mrs. Staniforth was small in height but had a big personality. In her knowledge and technique of dance she was one of the best.

This page was added on 31/12/2012.

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  • I started dance lessons at the conservative club in St Albans in 1960 aged 4 & stupidly left 10 years later. One of my biggest regrets. I often think of Mrs Staniforth with very fond memories

    By Carol Megit (nee Gray) (22/01/2023)
  • Just found this about Mrs Staniforth, I was a pupil from
    about 1947 in St.Albans. I was in the two pantomimes
    at Hill End also in the pageant at Luton Hoo. Had a
    great time. Mrs Staniforth was a lovely lady and kept
    us all busy doing lots of shows as well as exams. Missed
    it all when I started work. Lost touch with all the friends
    I made, in my 80’s now!!!

    By Maureen Neale (O'Brien) (04/03/2022)
  • I also attended Mrs Staniforth’s classes at the Conservative Club in Hatfield Road St Albans in 1957 and enjoyed one of her fabulous productions at Hill End Hospital.
    She was incredibly supportive with all her pupils and I’m very grateful to her for pushing me towards a professional dancing career, which I enjoyed for many years, performing in all the top theatres throughout the UK. Thanks to Mrs S I had agreat time!

    By Sue Bearcroft (formerly Pinnock) (04/08/2020)