The British Association of Teachers of Dancing

Our History

The British Association is a Registered Friendly Society No 11 SA (5) and is represented on the British Dance Council, The Sports + Recreation Alliance and The Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing.

The British Association is represented in the United Kingdom, Malta, Canada, America, Australia, South Africa, Spain, France, Italy, Holland, Germany, Belarus, Latvia, Korea and many other countries.

In 1892 the British Association Of Teachers of Dancing was founded and became the first Dancing Association to encourage the professionals of the day to organise themselves into a society to improve and develop the art of dancing, in many forms. The Association may have started a little before 1892, but November the 30th 1892, is the first recorded date that can be established beyond doubt. The first President of the Association was Mr Frederick George Wyatt.

There were twenty four Founder Members in 1892 and from this small beginning the Association has grown to about three and a half thousand members in 1999. In 1896 the Society became a Friendly Society and has remained the only Dancing Society to be so registered since that time.

The aims of the B.A.T.D. are clearly stated in Rule 3, to promote the art of dancing pursuant to the special authority of the 10th June 1979 given to section 7(F) of the Friendly Societies Act of 1974. Also to assist members of the Association in times of distress.

As a matter of interest, within a few years of the foundation of the B.A.T.D. the Manchester Ship Canal opened, the first motor cars appeared on the roads, with a maximum speed of fourteen miles per hour, the first flat gramophone record became available, The London Underground started, the Boar War began and ‘Wireless’ was all the rage.

During the past one hundred and eight years, many changes have taken place, from early days when pen and paper were the only way of keeping records and the Head Office was then a part of a small dance studio. Today, the Association has its own premises and a modern computerised office, dealing with all the work and problems of running a modern business.

All Associations must be viable and attempt to increase their assets for the good of the membership, the B.A.T.D. is no exception, and must maintain their market share of the dancing business. Our income comes from many sources, Medal Tests, subscriptions, sales of books and badges, and examination fees. These are generated from Scotland and England and many other parts of the world, our main overseas income originates from Canada and America.

The general configuration of the Society is as follows, the President, Vice Presidents, Trustees Treasurer and Executive Council Members are all elected by the membership at conference, also elected are various other committees. The nominees for these positions are selected by the Districts of the Association. At the present time there are eight Districts or Areas in Scotland and England, eight in Canada and America, one in Malta and one in Belarus.

It is at District level that members are able to take advantage of the system and seek higher office, beginning with District positions and then, if they so desire, Executive positions. So it must be understood that District Meetings are a very important part of the function of the B.A.T.D. Propositions for change of Rules or Bye Laws also come from District recommendation.

Different Districts hold a varying amount of meetings based on their size, the minimum being about four meetings per year. The details of these meetings are circulated by the District Secretary of the District you are enrolled in, which will be the nearest geographically to where you live, unless you request differently.

The content of meetings vary, but in the main they consist of lectures in the various branches of dance covered by the Association. These branches are, Tap, Stage, Ballet, Highland, Modern Dance, Jazz, Acro Gymnastics, Hornpipe, Jig, Traditional Step Dancing, European National Ballroom, Latin American, Classical, Disco, Rock’n’Roll, Country and Western, Scottish Country Dancing, Dance Exercise, Scottish National Dancing, Majorette, Dance and Drama, and Special Needs Awards.

Normally refreshments are available at all meetings of the Association and admission is free to members, members of other Societies can attend the lectures at a fee, (unless it is a closed lecture for members only). Non members are not allowed to attend the business meetings that follow or precede the lectures or seminars held at District meetings.

Other instructional meetings of the Association are known as Refresher
Courses that are conducted in each branch, to keep members up to date with new work or when there have been changes in the syllabi, in the various branches.

At the first District meeting following Conference, usually in September, District Officials are elected by the members. Traditionally there are five positions, Chairperson, Vice Chairperson, Secretary, Treasurer and Marshall, an agenda is produced in advance of the meeting and circulated to the members of the District concerned.

In June of each year, members gather at Annual Conference, at various locations in Great Britain. The venues are chosen to rotate every three years between the Southern and Northern areas of England and in Scotland. Conference is the place where wonderful social functions take place as well as dinners and seminars. First Class lectures in all branches are given during the weekend. The B.A.T.D. Sequence and Country and Western Inventive Dance Competitions are held and the Annual General Meetings of the Association takes place on the Sunday, followed by the Annual Dinner Dance.

The B.A.T.D. can help all of its members, and in common with most organisations, the more active the members are the more reward they will receive. The main financial way that members can be helped is for them to enter Medal Tests or Grade Examinations in the B.A.T.D. Dance Award system.

Excellent commission is paid to teachers who enter pupils for these awards and full details of how to proceed is available from Head Office in Glasgow. Contact details are in each Association Bulletin dispatched to members three times each year.

The Benefit and Benevolent Funds are also available for members in difficult circumstances or who have been hospitalised.

If you are interested in learning more about the B.A.T.D. a book has been published called “A Brief Review of One Hundred Years”, and gives a comprehensive review of the Association’s history. It was printed in 1992 to celebrate the Association’s Centenary, and is available from Head Office or from the section of the website named “Books For Sale”.

(Information supplied by Bryan Issac Past President of the B.A.T.D.)