Tribute to Phyllis SpiraTweet
In March 2008 we faced immense sadness with the passing of Phyllis Spira. She was the only South African dancer to carry the title of Prima Ballerina Assoluta and she dominated the country's dance stages for nearly 30 years.
Phyllis was accepted into London's Royal School of Ballet when she was just 16. Within months she was a soloist with the Royal Ballet Touring Company. She returned to South Africa in 1964, having turned down an invitation to dance with the legendary Rudolph Nureyev and, a year later, joined Capab (later the Cape Town City Ballet), where she remained for 28 years.
After retiring from performance, Phyllis devoted her time and energy to Dance for All, which was founded by her husband Philip Boyd. Her understanding of young people, her sense of values and her wisdom made her contribution immeasurable. A pragmatist and a realist, she was often both a voice of reason and a pillar of strength. A remarkably humble and caring woman, Phyllis was a wonderful role model and inspiration to so many of the children whose lives she touched. Dance for All will strive in its daily work to live up to her extraordinary legacy.
Phyllis received South Africa's highest civilian award for excellence, the Order of Meritorius Service Gold (1991).
Phyllis received South Africa's highest civilian award for excellence, the Order of Meritorius Service Gold (1991). She twice received the Nederburg Award for Ballet, while she also won the Lilian Solomon Award and the Bellarte Woman of the Year Award for the Cape (1979) and was named a member of the Order of Disa (2003) for her contribution to ballet and its development.
In March 2011 Phyllis was honoured by the City of Cape Town with a Civic Honours Award for her extraordinary dedication to her work and her art, her artistic achievements, and her contribution to the development of dance in South Africa. Philip ccepted the award on her behalf.