Organizing the RAD in Canada
As the RAD organizer from 1939-1956, Bettina Byers taught and encouraged many new teachers, including Louise Goldsmith, Sonia Chamberlain, and Lucille McClure, to embrace the Royal Academy’s teaching methods and syllabus. She also continued her own development as a teacher and earned her RAD Advanced Teacher’s Certificate in 1948. Several of her students enjoyed productive careers as dancers including Judie Colpman, Oldyna Dynowska, and Linda Stearns, who was also Ballet Mistress and then Artistic Director at Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. For her years of service, Byers was awarded a Fellowship of the RAD in 1975 – the first Canadian to be granted this honour.
In 1941, Byers organized a lecture and teaching tour for then RAD President Adeline Genée. This event was pivotal in expanding knowledge of the RAD method in Canada. The tour travelled to Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Winnipeg. Byers gave demonstrations of the academy’s work to accompany Genée’s lectures and Genée also conducted exams for small groups of students. As the Battle of the North Atlantic heated up under the ominous presence of German U-boats, Genée ended up having to stay in Canada longer than planned until safe passage could be secured. Consequently, overseas exams were suspended until after the war, though colleagues in the UK were never far from the minds of Canada’s RAD members who regularly sent care packages of those hard-to-find essentials, such as stockings and chocolate, overseas. In organizing the tour, Byers was ably assisted by Winnipeg-based teachers Gweneth Lloyd and Betty Hey Farrally, with Lloyd having become the organizer for the RAD in Western Canada in 1940.
My Dear Miss Byers:
Is this Miss Miriam Graham one you have written to? She seems to me to be important enough to be notified of Miss Danetree’s coming as she seems to cultivate an important school and the Greek side for examinations. If you have not yet written her, be good enough to do so and mention the fact the exams will be held soon, and let me have her address eventually.
No news as yet of Miss Danetree I regret to say, and I am getting tired of being held here waiting when I should be motoring and seeing the country.
Thanks for the printed matter. I know Miss Lloyd was waiting for some also from you and I expect you have forwarded it to her.
With kindest wishes
May 18th 1941
[Curator’s Note: Miss Danetree was unable to make the Atlantic crossing due to escalating naval battles. Once Genée made it home, the RAD suspended examinations in Canada until 1946.]