Frank Staff


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(b Kimberley, 15 Jun. 1918; d Bloemfontein, 10 May, 1971)

South African dancer and choreographer. He studied with Helen Webb and Maude Lloyd in Cape Town before going to London where he studied with Rambert and Tudor. Between 1933 and 1945 he danced with Ballet Club (later Ballet Rambert) as well as with Vic-Wells Ballet (1934–5 and 1938–9), and he created roles in several ballets by Howard, Ashton, and de Valois, including Cupid in Ashton's Cupid and Psyche (1939). He also danced with London Ballet in 1940, creating Julien in Howard's La Fête étrange (1940) and appeared in Herbert Farjeon's revue Spread it Around (chor. Walter Gore, 1936). He began choreographing in 1938, displaying a facility for witty invention, and his works include Peter and the Wolf (mus. Prokofiev, 1940) and Enigma Variations (mus. Elgar, 1940), both for Ballet Rambert. After military service he became an international freelance choreographer, returning to S. Africa in 1953 where he became founder and director of S. African Ballet (1955–8). He was then choreographer with UCT/CAPAB Ballet, Cape Town (1963–4), choreographer for PACT Ballet, Johannesburg (1965–8), and director of Performing Arts Council Orange Free State Ballet (1969–71). His later works included Romeo and Juliet (mus. Prokofiev, 1964), Raka, a three-act ballet on S. African themes (mus. G. Newcater, 1967), and Soirée (mus. Rossini, Britten, 1968). He was married four times, his last wife being dancer Veronica Paeper.

Subjects: Dance.

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