Partner Nerina Shute
Phyllis Haylor (April 18, 1904 – December 13, 1981) was the doyenne of ballroom dancing.
At the beginning of the 1920s Phyllis Haylor started training with Josephine Bradley at her School of Dancing at the Knightsbridge Hotel. At about the same time, a young man who was about to start at Sandhurst attended a tea dance, and the direction of his life changed completely. His name was Victor Silvester, and it was at the tea dance that he met Belle Harding, a well known personality in the dancing world. He trained with her as a dancing teacher at the Empress Rooms in the Royal Palace Hotel, Kensington, which was the start of his long career in ballroom dancing. These three, Victor Silvester, Phyllis Haylor and Josephine Bradley were to become key players in the formation and standardisation of the ‘English Style’ during the inter-war years.
Phyllis Haylor, dancing with Cedric Raphael became World Champion in 1925 and, in 1926, Star Professional Champion with Alec Millar. After his retirement, she danced with a young man called Charles Scrimshaw: “They became known as perhaps the most elegant and gifted and sought-after couple of their time.”
These great dancers were creating the steps that were to become the basics in the ballroom dances. For example, Alec Millar and Phyllis Haylor invented the ‘Millar Cross’, later to be called the Cross Swivel and Maxwell Stewart and Barbara Miles, World Champions in 1925, invented the Double Reverse Spin. Alex Moore and Pat Kilpatrick discovered the Whisk while dancing a Closed Change.
Phyllis Haylor, describes in her book ‘The World of Phyllis Haylor and Ballroom Dancing’ how in the mid 1930s, a German competitive couple, appearing in London for the first time, presented a new interpretation by emphasising the staccato effect and lengthening the stride. All agreed this was something that could be taught and given a technique and was soon being taught in dancing schools.
In 1958, Nerina Shute decided to take up ballroom dancing and joined a dance club. Before long, she had met and fallen in love with Phyllis Haylor. "I had never been so happy in all my life," Nerina recalled. Their relationship lasted until Phyllis's death in 1981.
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