28 October 2020 09:11

Three Australians to receive a special honour

In a year such as 2020 it is uplifting to have cause for celebration.

RAD Australia is proud to announce that three teachers and examiners have been recognised for their outstanding contribution to the art of dance and exceptionally meritorious service to the Academy. Robyn Croft, Hilary Kaplan and Joy Ransley have each been awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Dance entitling them to use the FRAD post-nominal going forwards. The three distinguished Members will be presented with their award early in 2021 in the hope that restrictions due to COVID-19 do not impact too greatly on the occasion.

National Director Rebecca Taylor said
“Australians should be extremely proud to have such dedicated teachers and examiners as Robyn, Hilary and Joy. Their combined hours of service, dedication and support for the Academy are immeasurable. They are a credit to the Academy and thousands of dancers have benefited from their expertise over the years. It is my pleasure to count them amongst a Fellowship of truly remarkable individuals and I congratulate them each on their many achievements.”

Chief Executive Luke Rittner added
“As Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Dance, I am delighted beyond words that Academy Fellowships have been awarded to Robyn Croft, Hilary Kaplan and Joy Ransley. It is wonderful to be celebrating the achievements of three remarkable people whose collective knowledge, experience, dedication and loyalty mark them out as great ambassadors both for the Royal Academy of Dance and for dance as a universal art form. There can be no more deserving recipients.”


Find out more about the Fellowship Recipients

Robyn Croft 

Robyn Croft – Gilchrist was born in Brisbane and moved with her family to Townsville after World War II.

Robyn studied ballet with Gwen Hardie in Townsville and passed all Ballet Examinations up to Advanced with Honours. At the age of 16 she traveled to Sydney to sit the Solo Seal Examination which she passed before going back to school to complete her senior year. At the age of 17 Robyn sailed to London and joined the Royal Ballet School in August just after she turned 18.

From there Robyn joined the Royal Ballet Touring Company at 19, dancing many soloist roles and travelling to many countries. At the end of 1961 Dame Peggy van Prague asked all Australian dancers to return to Australia to form the Australian Ballet. Robyn became a foundation Member of The Australian Ballet Company in 1962, where she met her late Husband Douglas Gilchrist. Robyn danced with the company performing many Soloist and Principal Roles. When the Company was in London Robyn and Warren De Maria had a Pas de Deux ” La Source” choreographed for on them by the late John Cranko.  Robyn retired from the Company at the end of 1967 and her first child was born in 1969. Douglas was already head teacher at the Australian Ballet School and Robyn also taught at the School. She also taught for Audrey Nichols and Eve King in Melbourne where she learned the RAD syllabus.

Robyn and Douglas returned to Townsville to open their own studio in 1971. The Studio is now in its 50th year.  Their second child was born in 1975 and when he was 4 years old Robyn was asked to become an Examiner by the late Isobel Anderson. She completed her training in Brisbane with the late Prue Bowen, and started examining in 1980. Robyn examined in Australia until her children left school and then started examining overseas. Robyn really loves examining and hopes we can start travelling again in 2021!

Hilary Kaplan 

Hilary was trained by Reina Berman (Classical Ballet) and Mercedes Molina, Luisa Cortes and Enrique Segovia (Spanish) in South Africa.

Having achieved the Solo Seal Award and having won the South African RAD Bursary, she travelled to London to complete her training at the Royal Ballet School.

After returning to South Africa, she danced professionally for some years and subsequently opened her own studio while simultaneously studying for a BA degree in Linguistics.

She became a RAD grades examiner in 1990 and a dual examiner in 1996 after immigrating to Sydney with her husband and 5 daughters.

In 1998 she, together with Archibald McKenzie, established Alegria Dance Studios, where not only grades and vocational students are trained, but also full time students aspiring to become professional dancers.

Hilary is also a tutor for the Royal Academy of Dance and has taught at numerous national and international summer schools and seminars, coaching both teachers and students.

Alegria has had 4 Gold medallists and 1 Silver medallist in the RAD Genée International Ballet Competition and a winner and a number of finalists in the Prix de Lausanne.

Alegria graduates, who have all been trained through the RAD syllabus, are dancing all over the world in prestigious companies and company schools.

Joy Ransley - Australia.

Joy Ransley

Joy is an international teacher, choreographer and examiner for the Royal Academy of Dance. Joy trained with the Royal Ballet School before joining the Royal Ballet and later Dutch National Ballet.

Retiring from professional dancing, Joy taught extensively in Australia, co-directing her own school with her sister Dawn. Joy was instrumental in the formation of the RAD Regional Advisory Panel in New South Wales and played an active part in the creation of events for students and teachers in the region.

For many years Joy was the artistic director for youth dance companies in Australia nurturing the development of young dancers, many of whom achieved success at the Genée International Ballet Competition, Prix de Lausanne and Youth America Grand Prix. One of these successes was Aaron Smyth who won gold at the Genée in 2008 and won a full scholarship to the Jackie Onassis School at the American Ballet Theatre.

Former students from her school have gone on to join major companies around the world including The Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, The Australian Ballet, Houston Ballet, Royal New Zealand Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet and many more. Musical Theatre star Caroline O’Connor trained exclusively at “Ransley’s” before embarking on her internationally renowned career.

Relocating to the UK Joy has taught at White Lodge, The Royal Ballet School, English National Ballet School, Bush Davies, Elmhurst and enjoys an international teaching relationship with teachers around the world.

Joy has also been a faculty member for the RAD’s Professional Dancers’ Postgraduate Teaching Certificate (PDPTC) and international summer schools around the world.