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The History of RAD Australia

The RAD started life in 1920 as the Association of Teachers of Operatic Dancing in Great Britain.

It was born out of a meeting of leading dance professionals arranged by Philip Richardson, former editor of the Dancing Times. With Adeline Genée chosen from among her peers as its first President, the Association launched its first syllabus in the same year and held its first exams in 1921.

1928 saw Queen Mary become the Association’s first patron and in 1936 it became the Royal Academy of Dancing (RAD) after receiving its Royal Charter from King George V. The following year, the RAD was awarded its coat of arms by the College of Arms.

The first examinations of the Royal Academy of Dance in Australia commenced in May 1935 with UK visiting examiner Felix Demery whose five weeks grades and major tour included Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Wagga Wagga, Sydney and Brisbane. A resounding success! The Frances Scully School of Dancing in Sydney created the then world record for submitting 320 entries with 306 passes. At the end of his tour Demery conducted syllabus classes for teachers who came from around Australia and New Zealand, and the Australian Advisory Committee was formed under the chairmanship of Jennie Brenan.

Some of Australia’s greatest pioneer teachers and early organisers – Linley Wilson (Western Australia), Jennie Brenan (Victoria) and Frances Scully (New South Wales) and their colleagues Margorie Hollingshed (Queensland), Lorraine Norton (New South Wales) and Eunice Weston (Victoria) continued to promote and establish the RAD syllabus in Australia. They appointed additional organisers – Phyllis Danaher in Brisbane, Joanne Priest in Adelaide, Jessie Brownlie in Newcastle, Gwen Hardee in Townsville and Madge Wallace in Wagga Wagga.  Later, Markova/Dolin Ballet company member and the Academy’s world-wide first Genee silver medallist, Joan Burnett travelled to Australia to teach in Melbourne before relocating to Launceston to establish the RAD in northern Tasmania.

1937 was a significant year. Felix Demery returned to examine in Australia and granted the first two Academy scholarships (the New South Wales and Queensland Scholarships), the forerunner to the current Australian Advanced 1 Bursary. In London, Frances Scully and Lorraine Norton were appointed as the first Children’s examiners for Australia.

The 1939 examinations tour brought Kathleen Danetree to Australia and during the tour World War II was declared. She immediately returned home to the UK, but returned again to Australia in 1941 for what was one of the longest RAD examination tours – five years, due to the War. Upon Brenan’s retirement as Organiser and Chair of the Australian Advisory Committee and with the passing of Frances Scully, Danetree was appointed Secretary of the Australian Advisory Committee and the Academy’s organiser for Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. Other new members of the Committee included Harold Bowden, Lady Tait, Lady Lloyd Jones, Dr Phyllis Anderson and Phyllis Danaher. The Committee promoted and increased the profile of the Academy arranging events and fundraising functions including the first visit to Sydney and Melbourne by Dame Margot Fonteyn de Arias DBE, the Academy’s President.

Danetree resigned in 1955 as organiser due to the volume of work and Sheila Stokes became the full-time Secretary for over 30 years.

Linley Wilson, Kathleen Danetree, Lorraine Norton and Phyllis Danaher were all appointed examiners and each awarded a Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Dance for their exceptional service to the Academy over many years. Lady Tait, Linley Wilson, Kathleen Danetree and Lorraine Norton were appointed to the Academy’s then Grand Council. In acknowledgement of their dedication and achievements in the wider dance community, Kathleen Danetree was awarded an OBE, Phyllis Danaher an MBE and Linley Wilson and Joan Burnett de Vere each an OAM.


Our Values

Our values underline our commitment to our staff, members, volunteers, customers, partners and suppliers.

We provide leadership as an organisation and as individuals.

We value people. At every level of the organisation we empower staff to think creatively, recognising their ability to make significant contributions to the business.

We support and promote the concept of life-long learning and continuing professional development for all.

We treat one another with respect and are committed to openness and trust in all professional relationships. We also believe in recognising and rewarding loyalty of staff, members, volunteers and customers, partners and suppliers.

We promote enjoyment and fulfilment in all that we do and offer as an organisation. We are committed to creating an engaging, welcoming environment that inspires artistry, facilitates teaching and encourages learning.

We will:

  • communicate openly,

  • collaborate within and beyond the organisation,

  • act with integrity and professionalism,

  • deliver quality and excellence,

  • celebrate diversity and work inclusively, and

  • act as advocates for dance.



The RAD offers an internationally-recognised portfolio of examinations and assessments designed to encourage, motivate and reward students of all ages and abilities, outlining a progressive structure for learning and achievement.

Students may start with Dance to Your Own Tune (the curriculum for students from 2½ to 5 years), move up through the first Graded levels (Pre-Primary in Dance and Primary in Dance), and then into eight further Graded levels or six Vocational Graded levels. Students may move from the Graded pathway to the Vocational Graded pathway at an appropriate moment, they may study both pathways simultaneously.

The Graded Examination in Dance Syllabus:

  • focuses on ballet (including elements of freer and progressive styles, appropriate for today’s dancer) and Character

  • includes Graded Examinations (Primary in Dance – Grade 8), Class Awards (Pre-Primary in Dance – Grade 3), Presentation Classes (Grades 4-8) and Solo Performance Awards (Grades 1-3)

  • is appropriate for candidates from the ages of 5 years

The Vocational Graded Examination in Dance Syllabus:

  • builds on the elements covered in the Graded syllabus, focusing on the performance of ballet to an advanced standard, and is intended for students who wish to pursue a career in dance

  • comprises examinations at six levels from Intermediate Foundation to Solo Seal Award

  • is suitable for candidates form the age of 11 years.

Examinations are administered by the RAD Examinations Board. In Australia RAD Vocational Graded qualifications are endorsed by State awarding bodies in Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania for credits towards the Certificate of Education. RAD Graded qualifications are recognised in Tasmania for credits toward the Certificate of Education.

Find out more in our quick guide to exams here

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