who

School history

Sylvera Dance School was formed in 1946 by Mrs Vera Hammond and her sister Miss Sylvia Stead. Both had been trained by Miss Raine at the Barnehurst-based ‘Raindrops School of Dancing.’

At the end of the war Miss Raine emigrated to the USA and Vera and Sylvia started their own school in Crayford, calling it ‘Sylvera.’ The first show, which benefitted a local charity featured 80 pupils. It was held at the Crayford Town Hall in 1949.

The school quickly built up a good reputation and pupils appeared in many cabarets and local fund-raising events. Shows were held annually in aid of local charities. In 1964 a large group of senior pupils, including Vera’s daughters Julie and Yvonne qualified as teachers with the IDTA. Many girls went on to form their own schools, including Julie who in 1970 formed the Duet School of Dancing in Dartford. In the same year, Sylvia retired from teaching and Yvonne took over in Crayford.

In 1980 a new branch of the school was established in Longfield and subsequently moved to New Ash Green. In 1985 the Duet and Sylvera schools were amalgamated and all the classes were moved to Crayford. Due to the increase in pupils, the venue for the annual show was changed in 1984 to the Woodville Halls, Gravesend. And in 1996 on our 50th anniversary we held our first show at the Orchard Theatre. We now teach over 400 children and adults.


Teachers

To help you get to know our teachers we asked them to write a sentence or two about themselves and to answer a few questions. Click on a name to find out about them.

I have been teaching dance for over 60 years and I enjoy dancing as much now as I did when I first started. I have been lucky enough to teach my daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughters.

What is the best thing about dancing? Teaching children to dance and keeping you young at heart.

Who is your favourite dancer? Anna Pavlova.

What is the best stage musical you have seen?
42nd Street.

What is the best screen musical you have seen? White Christmas.

Best show-stopping number of all time? You’ll Never Walk Alone.

Strictly Come Dancing or So you think you can dance?
Strictly Come Dancing.

Len Goodman or Arlene Phillips? Len Goodman.

My full-time job is teaching dance, my hobby is teaching dance, my ambition is to see my grandchildren dance and enjoy it as much as I do.

What is the best thing about dancing? It is good for body and soul and I love it.

Who is your favourite dancer? Margot Fonteyn and Gene Kelly, slightly different but I can’t choose between them.

What is the best stage musical you have seen? Cats, I saw it about 8 times and loved the choreography (Gillian Lynne).

What is the best screen musical you have seen?
South Pacific was my favourite as a teenager, but more currently it would have to be Chicago.

Best show-stopping number of all time? The ballet from An American in Paris.

Strictly Come Dancing or So you think you can dance? Strictly Come Dancing.

Len Goodman or Arlene Phillips? Len Goodman of course.

I have taught dance, particularly tap for many years and love it as much now as I did at the start. My forte is choreography for Sylvera and local operatic societies. Seeing the result of all the hard work is the greatest pleasure.

What is the best thing about dancing? It keeps you fit whilst having fun and a great sense of achievement.

Who is your favourite dancer? Gene Kelly.

What is the best stage musical you have seen?
42nd Street.

What is the best screen musical you have seen? Singin in the Rain.

Best show-stopping number of all time? Moses Supposes from Singin in the Rain.

Strictly Come Dancing or So you think you can dance? Strictly Come Dancing.

Len Goodman or Arlene Phillips?
Len Goodman.

What is the best thing about dancing? I love it more than anything. It makes me feel free and I forget any worries I have.

Who is your favourite dancer? Bob Fosse – really known as a choreographer but he was in lots of musicals – he was brilliant.

What is the best stage musical you have seen? I have to say Billy Elliot, but Chicago was good and then there was Hot Mikado, just too many good ones!

What is the best screen musical you have seen? West Side Story – I think!

Best show-stopping number of all time? I love the opening to “On the Town” but I also have to say anything by Bob Fosse – I can’t choose!.

Strictly Come Dancing or So you think you can dance? Don’t watch either, too busy dancing.

Len Goodman or Arlene Phillips? Len Goodman of course he’s from Dartford, and he’s a great teacher – lots of fun.

I have danced from the moment I could walk. I enjoyed performing as much as I now enjoy teaching. I’ve appeared in many musicals and plays at both Erith Theatre and Dartford Operatic Society.

What is the best thing about dancing? I love dancing because it makes you smile and forget about all the sad things in life. Teaching children to dance is so rewarding because it builds their confidence and allows them to express themselves. I just hope that my children get as much enjoyment out of their dancing years as I have mine!!

Who is your favourite dancer? Darcey Bussell.

What is the best stage musical you have seen? Billy Elliot.

What is the best screen musical you have seen? An American in Paris.

Best show-stopping number of all time? Slap That Bass from Crazy For You.

Strictly Come Dancing or So you think you can dance? So you think you can dance?

Len Goodman or Arlene Phillips?
Len Goodman.

I have danced all my life since the age of 5 and have loved every minute of it, especially performing on stage. Once reaching a certain age!!!, I decided to take my dancing down another path and worked very hard to gain my teaching qualifications in 2004. I now have as much fun teaching children to dance and watching them progress into budding dancers.

What is the best thing about dancing? It enables you to be expressive, over the top and it is loads of FUN. Dancing has a world of it’s very own!

Who is your favourite dancer? Dame Margot Fonteyn.

What is the best stage musical you have seen? Cats.

What is the best screen musical you have seen? Chicago.

Best show-stopping number of all time? All that Jazz.

Strictly Come Dancing or So you think you can dance?
Strictly Come Dancing.

Len Goodman or Arlene Phillips? Len Goodman.