By Lori Woods-Gay
With the passing of Elizabeth Romain recently, the dance world lost one of the founding giants in our industry, and a person who through her dedication, commitment to improving her craft and her personality helped mould and steer ballroom dance through its infancy up until today and who in doing so, has left an indelible mark on dancing across the world.
The greatest tribute that anyone can give to another on their passing is to say that they changed the world for the better — they made a difference. In this regard, the measure of Elizabeth Romain and her legacy lies in the lasting impact she made on dance and the lives she touched. And she touched many of us here in America.
She was a World Class Teacher with her heart completely dedicated to perfecting her craft and to the student, regardless of their level of accomplishment. She treated all of us with the same respect, effort and dedication. She was committed to bringing out the best in every pupil regardless of their level of achievement, Medalist, Student teacher, or Fellow.
Together with Sir Alex Moore, she was the acknowledged authority in dance technique and worked selflessly throughout her life to better understand, document and pass on to others an understanding of this area which is the very foundation all dance.
With her knowledge, position and popularity she could have been arrogant but she was embracing. She could have been impatient—she was encouraging. She could have been opinionated— she was open minded. She could have demanded fame and fortune – she was selfless.
She had the courage of her convictions and an amazing tenacity to follow her beliefs and instill them in others. She was the epitome of a great teacher yet her greatness was in her humility and her pure love of dance and the pupils.
She had a major impact on the way we teach through the curriculum she helped to form. These techniques are so much at the heart of Ballroom and Latin American Dancing that
every time we see a beautiful dancer we know there is a little bit of Liz and the underlying commitment to quality and good technique that is her legacy.
While she may be gone, we are all the better for her living. We will all miss her greatly but I feel happy in knowing that her life’s work and devotion to dance was not in vain as she has inspired so many people all over the world. She played an important part in my life and the lives of countless others. We are eternally grateful and we will miss her.
Fond Memories of Liz
I was a young 25 year old teacher preparing for my membership exam in Danceland. This was way back in 1985. I drove from where I lived in Baltimore MD to Washington DC, because Elizabeth was giving a review class because the exam was going to be in about 2 months. The class was going well and she popped a surprise question of a membership figure I believe in the Tango on me. I answered it correctly and said Bravo and made a gesture of praise about it. I felt really great. After the class she was available to dance and I did a Waltz with her and we worked on the contra check for a little while. 2 months later I took the membership exam with Roy Mavor examining me and I passed it. —Jeffrey P. Yannello
Elizabeth Romain was a wise consumate coach. Her videos were awesome and professional. I definately learned a lot from her and respected her, even though I never met her. She is missed. With respect and sympathy. —Rafael Cologne
One day, after six hours of work preparing me for an exam, Liz and I sat having tea in Alex Moore’s studio in Surrey, and I asked her how the Running Right Turn ever came to have so many quirky angles. She said, “Well looked around, Lou, this little room is where Alex created all those angles for you, and it wasn’t easy. So learn to enjoy them.” She had a genius for explaining, grouping and simplifying things, very often in a humorous way. I was one of a long list of students who studied with her there and at her then (1990) newly constructed studio at home.
With my customary humility, I told Liz one day that the Latin Book – there was only one those days, – needed a grammatical facelift. I said the expression “It is important that …” should always be followed with a verb in the subjunctive mood. She said “Lou, maybe so, but we don’t have the time or money for that.” and the subject died an natural death. Liz was a trooper. When she told me that she was going to have a second hip replacement I wrote to her and suggested that it might be a good idea for her to find me someone to dance with for my Latin Fellowship. She wrote back “Nonsense, you can dance with me. By the time you take your exam I will feel just fine.” I had serious reservations about this, but the day of the exam she sailed with me through it all, highly commended. Liz was a fun person who loved what she did and who did it exceedingly well…….Lou Giacchino
I remember training with Elizabeth at Bill and Bobbi Davies house in North Haledon, NJ. She was an incredible technician and had a very special way of teaching that gave you a true understanding of the material.
There’s a funny story we’ve told many times about Elizabeth and Eric Hancox at one of the Imperial Championships in Atlantic City in the late 1970’s. Dennis and I and Elizabeth and Eric were all checking in to the hotel and Elizabeth asked Eric if he was going to be around after the competition. He replied, “No, I’m going to the International”, to which Elizabeth replied, “Oh, are you dancing”? Well, everyone around us broke up, including Eric. ………..Dennis and Jackie Rogers
I have lots of fond memories of Elizabeth. She would stay with me when she visited in Washington, D.C. She loved to play the card game “Spite and Malice”. We would play till the wee hours and I would have to remind her that we had to get some sleep and be ready early for work in the morning.
I’ll never forget the time my friend Vito and I took her to a Washington Redskins football game! Although she had little knowledge of the game, she cheered loudly along with the crowd whenever we scored a TD!
I’m so sorry to hear of her passing………….Ron Bennett
I trained with Elizabeth Romaine for both Associate standard and latin in the Alex Moore Studio at Kingston Upon Thames in 1977. She was such a thorough teacher with impeccable knowledge of the technique and once she made your acquaintence, she was your friend for life. She instilled in me a lasting respect for the high standards of the Imperial Society that has lasted these decades since. One of those irreplaceable icons of our dance world…….. Rex Lewis.
I had the privilege of taking my Membership Latin with Liz and coaching with her as a competitor when she visited Danceland 2 ( owned by Ron Bennett, Geoff Fells and Al Franz) in Washington D.C. in the late 1970’s. Liz had a love of our craft and people and was a Master in her field and always so warm and encouraging to her pupils.
One fun evening I can remember after a long day of teaching at the studio Ron, Geoff, Al and I took Liz to a great restaurant for a nice meal. The waiter came and asked Liz for her drink order. Liz Replied ” I think I would love one of your exotic American drinks”, so Ron suggested a HARVEY WALLBANGER. Well, we all ended up having a couple of HARVEY WALLBANGER’S and had a grand old time.
To teach is a gift of life and Liz shared her gift with so many, She will be in my heart forever my condolences to the family. ……….Beverly A Donahue F. I. S. T.
I studied with her (fruitfully), yonks ago in Zeeta. Geoffrey, Pam and I would have dinner with Liz when he was over, as would Pam and I when we were up that way. We loved to soliloquise, and she was, of course, a lovely person, loved by us all; She joins the ranks of the sadly missed ladies of our time – Jo Bradley, Phyllis Haylor, Brenda Winslade, and so the list goes on. …………Peter Eggleton
When Betts father got killed in a road accident her mother [and mine] met my dad who had lost his wife and they got married producing me, Poor Betts she had me tugging along, having to do my homework and teaching me to dance.
We lived over our Dads shop on the London Road in North Cheam and Betts had a dance studio few shops down on the same block. During the war she chose instead of joining one of the forces or being a land girl she chose to work in a factory [I think it had something to do with fuses].
Betts had her own horse and went in for many Dressage Events. She went to work for Alex Moore whose studio was at that time over Zeeta Cafe in Kingston on Thames. This was the beginning of her great career into Ballroom Dancing and not the ballet and tap she had mostly been rought up with.
One of her great moments in her life was when she received the Carl Alan award from Princess Margaret. Betts also wrote books and made videos and until about three weeks before she died still wrote an article for the Dancing Times, she loved her dancing career and it was her life.
Betts looked after our Mum when she was ill until she died and was devoted to her and also to her dog Cindy. She loved all her nieces, nephews and grand nieces, nephews and all animals and to me was and always will be my beautiful sister and needless to say I miss her like crazy. …………… Janet Farley Liz’s sister.
Did you know that she used to ride and do Dressage? Whenever she visited
Washington DC she would go and visit with her friend at the Potomac Horse
Center. Because of her visit I was intrigued and took up dressage myself
just before I left for Hawai’i. In my first dressage competition I won a
First Place! Sorry to say I did not continue once I moved………….Geoffrey Fells
Both of us have our dual fellowship degrees because of Liz’s superb training. She was so meticulous in her explanations that we feel that there is no one who could not learn from Liz.
I met Elizabeth in the 60s and immediately understood that she was a fine, sincere and loving person, and her teaching of dance technique was the finest in the world. Linda and I started our studies with Elizabeth in 1978. We continued to study with her for many years until 2006. In 2006, she could hardly move. However, she gave us some coaching and explanations that will be indelibly etched in our memories. We know that there are a lot of people all over the world whose lives have been touched by Liz, and we know that everyone is grieving now. As for us, we say “Bye for now dearest Liz, until we meet again.” God bless all of you……….Jerry & Linda Topez Theodossiou
Whenever Elizabeth would come to America I worked with her as often as possible. But my most memorable moment was in England in 1988 when I went there for training. I studied with her for one week during my visit When on the last day I was to have my examination I became very anxious about becuase I wanted her to be proud of me. She noticed that I was a little nervouse and before I went into the room for my exam with Janet Clark, she handed me a card. It had a pair of cat’s eyes looking out from the front and inside she wrote ” To Velia, wishing you every success in your exam. Remember my eyes watching you- go slow. Think before you move and remember everything I told you, etc. etc. You’ll be fine. Love, Elizabeth. I have saved this card to this day. I will never forget her. She was an amazing women. ……………Velia Santoro
Elizabeth was always a grand, kind , beautiful and compassionate person and the Irish queen of ballroom dance technique. Having had a sister living in Long Island, she loved giving seminar classes in New York City, the locations of which included the studios of both Bobby Davies and Bill Davies.
She inspired dancers to do their upmost by her enthusiasm, her kind smile, but above all with her mastery of teaching and the presentation of all of her personal little tips that amounted to dance imperatives that will live on in our teaching. Thank you, Elizabeth, you will never be forgotten. We love you. …………Peter Kadel
I remember one time when I think we set the Guinness Book World record for the most heel pulls done in one day. “Do it again” Liz would say as she tried to correct the flaw. The flaw that frankly many times was not visible to the human eye (at least my eye), but glaring to her eyes. I realize now how it must have been an assault on her senses, sort of like squeeking chalk on a black board, but she had the patience of jobe and she never gave up on you. She had such a keen eye for the technique and she always knew “why”. One of her favorite mantras was “be wise to the why’s”. We had such wonderful times working with Liz. …………..Cher Rutherford and Lori Woods-Gay
Liz had an especially beautiful garden that she loved to spend time in. And when weather permitted she even liked to teach the technique in the garden. We have fond memories of dancing in the garden. You may find it particularly interesting to know that heel turns in bare feet are especially challenging. The Garden was also a great place to celebrate after taking an exam. One such celebration took place with friends, neighbors, and other successful candidates as we all shared and consumed an entire box of wine. ………Cher Rutherford
By Theresa Jordan
Liz (Elizabeth) Romain who passed away on Saturday 27th January 2007 at 4.15pm in St Helier Hospital.
Liz was born on the 3rd November 1922 in Wimbledon, England.
She graduated from Kingsley High school for Girls Worcester Park Surrey in 1936 to study ballet with Ivy Colman school of Dancing Wimbeldon. Liz obtained diploma of teacher of dancing in 1938 Principal of her own school 1938 to 1962 in London Road, North Cheam Surrey From 1942 to 1962 also taught in a self employed capacity coaching candidates at the Alex Moore School of Dance, Zeeta Dance Studios Kingston upon Thames. In 1962 entered partnership with the late Alex Moore MBE and later become sole principal on Mr Moore’s retirement.
Liz’s first started dancing class at the age of two years and nine months, giving her first stage appearance at three years old at Wimbledon theatre. Stage work was Liz’s first love, she became involved in teaching with her own studio at quite a tender age, and then a few years later took up Ballroom dancing where she was enthralled on this style of dance. She was teaching at the Alex Moore studio whilst still running her own studio. Eventually the ballroom and Latin took over and she went into partnership at the Alex Moore’s school.
Liz became an examiner and Latin American committee member of the ISTD, was involved in the Alex Moore’s “Letter Service”, she travel ed the world, teaching, lecturing, examining and judging .
Liz was presented with the prestigious Carl Alan Award by HRH Princes Margaret in 1973 and was the recipient of the Imperial Award in 1990 for her outstanding services throughout the world.
Author of “Let’s go dancing”, also Latin American and Ballroom Variations and Questions and Answers both in Ballroom and Latin American.
Editor of the Revised Technique of Latin American Dancing and Popular Variations in Latin American Dancing on behalf of the ISTD.
Producer and Presenter of the Series of “Technique on Video”
In March 2001 Liz received the Overseas Award for her valuable work in American; also she is in the American Hall of Fame.
Also Liz served on the ISTD Grand Council after her retirement from the Latin Committee.
Liz in her spare time loved to playing Scrabble, Bridge, and any card games, and to do Crossword’s She also loved her tennis and you could not disturb her on the Wimbledon fortnight. She loved horse riding and the dressage work she did with Pat Moore and won lots of rosettes etc. Her other great love was her little dog Cindy.