Philip Boyd
Phyllis Spira

Early life and training

Having arrived in London in May 1959, Spira began training at the Royal Ballet School when she was just 16.
After only a few months, she made her debut in a performance of Swan Lake at Covent Garden. Thereupon she was invited to join the Royal Ballet touring company. She was 17 years old at the time.

Professional career

Spira remained with the touring group of the Royal Ballet for three years, from 1960 to 1963and was promoted to soloist in 1961. A promising future lay before her, but her longing for home made her decide to return to South Africa in 1964.
Upon returning to her home town, Spira joined PACT Ballet. Spira along with her frequent partner Gary Burne joined CAPAB Ballet as its principal dancers in 1965, leaving it temporarily in 1967-1968 and moving to Toronto to dance with the National Ballet of Canada, directed by Celia Franca. After touring North America with this company, they returned to South Africa at the end of 1968 and rejoined CAPAB Ballet. They performed as a popular partnership until Burne left the company in 1971. Thereafter, she formed another partnership with strikingly handsome Eduard Greyling, which lasted for some seventeen years, until she retired from the stage
She continued to lead the Cape Town company until 1988, when an injury on the opening night of a new production of Giselle brought her dance career to an end.
Spira received numerous honors and awards during her long career
After leaving the stage in 1988, Spira served as principal ballet mistress of CAPAB Ballet until 1999, during which time the company was renamed as Cape Town City Ballet. She and Philip Boyd, a former CAPAB dancer, devoted their energies to community service.
Appointed head of the David Poole Trust Youth Training Program, she and Boyd ran the Dance for All program initiated by Poole some years earlier. Set up to take dance to underprivileged children living in non-white townships, it was active in Gugulethu, Nyanga, and Khayelitsha on the borders of Cape Town and in the rural inland areas of Barrydale and Montagu

Favourite quotes by Phyllis Spira:

“Idle feet are the devil’s toenails”.
“You are only as good as your last performance.”
“Always stay humble, rooted, grounded and honest with yourself.”
“I’m more interested in you being a nice person than a good dancer.”
“Having an attitude will get your nowhere.”
“Your work speaks for itself.”
“There is no such words as ‘can’t’. It does not exist in my vocabulary.”
” Dance is not just work, its hard, hard, hard work – always.”
” One minute you are in the wings and the next minute you are wearing them.”


Passion is when you put more energy into something that is required to do it. It is more than just enthusiasm or excitement, passion is ambition that is materialised into action to put as much heart, mind, body and soul into something as is humanly possibly.Philip Boyd
I knew that if I could train and be good at dance I'd have an independent future.Theo Ndindwa
I am so lucky to have got the best training possible from people who loved us and loved what they were doing.Zandile Constable
Dancing makes me feel magical, as if anything is possible.Zandile Constable
When you dance, you challenge your body to the limit and this gave me the certainty that I could achieve my goals...'I didn't become a professional dancer, but what I got from DFA was more than dancing skills, I got life lessons; life's treasures.Monde Sitole
I can't say my life would be nothing without DFA, but it wouldn't be the way it is now. I have been all over the world and performed on many stages...People often say, "You have such good training," and I tell them exactly where I got it.Mbulelo Ndabeni
DFA changed my life in a way I could never have imagined. I learnt so much from my teachers and I hope to follow in their footsteps by helping other needy children.Bathembu Myira
Philip and Phyllie nurtured me and I'm where I am today because of them and DFA...They taught us that it was up to us to get somewhere; that we had to keep pushing ourselves so that we wouldn't stay at one level.Xola Putye
Phyllie taught me dancing, but she also taught me how to live; how to forgive. She will always be my inspiration.Noluyanda Mqulwana
If you have discipline, you can do anything...The love must [also] be there, otherwise there's no passion or commitment.Noluyanda Mqulwana
The studio and the stage are like holy ground to me. It's where I find the will and courage to go on. Dance is not just steps; it's a feeling, an energy that radiates out of you. People who are watching you feel part of it. If I can give something that heals them or makes them feel a magic moment, then that's what I want to keep doing.Byron Klassen
At DFA I feel I have a home and a family.Dineo Mphela
You can't be lazy; each day you learn a new thing, you keep pushing yourself. When you come across difficulties you find a way to overcome them.Odwa Makanda
Dancing makes me feel comfortable with myself.Tamsyn-Lucy Pretorius
Some of us won't become dancers, but because of what we learn at DFA, we all have a chance to become a professional at something.Olivia Stephaans
Technical perfection is insufficient. It is an orphan without the true soul of the dancer.Sylvie Guillem
To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful… This is power, it is glory on earth and it is yours for the taking.Agnes de Mille
I don’t want dancers who want to dance, I want dancers who need to danceGeorge Balanchine
Dancing is just discovery, discovery, discoveryMartha Graham
Dance is a song of the bodyMartha Graham
Dancing is like dreaming with your feetConstanze
The truest expression of a people is in its dance and in its music Agnes De Mille
Dancing faces you towards Heaven, whichever direction you turnTerri Guillemets
To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak Indian Proverb
We dance for laughter, we dance for tears, we dance for madness, we dance for fears, we dance for hopes, we dance for screams, we are the dancers, we create the dreamsAnonymous
I don't want people who want to dance; I want people who have to danceGeorge Balanchine
Dancers are athletes of GodAlbert Einstein
Either you do the pirouette or you shoot yourself. One or the other, but something must happen.Monet Robier
The most essential thing in dance discipline is devotion, the steadfast and willing devotion to the labor that makes the classwork not a gymnastic hour and a half, or at the lowest level, a daily drudgery, but a devotion that allows the classroom discipline to become moments of dancing too.Merce Cunningham
Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desiredMartha Graham
Movement never lies. It is a barometer telling the state of the soul's weather to all who can read it.Martha Graham
It takes an athlete to dance, but an artist to be a dancer.Shanna LaFleur
) If you want to dance seriously, do. You must think about it day and night, dream about it, desire it.Christa Justus
Someone once said that dancers work just as hard as policemen, always alert, always tense, but see policemen don't have to be beautiful at the same time.George Balanchine

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