Frank Staff

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Frank Staff (1918-1971) was an influential ballet dancer, choreographer, producer and company director.


Born in Kimberley, he left the country to work internationally for Ballet Rambert, Sadler's Wells, the Metropolitan Ballet and other companies.

He was married four times, to Elisabeth Schooling, Jaqueline St. Clere, Heather Lloyd-Jones and Veronica Paeper, and had a son by each of the wives.

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

He returned in 1955 to found The South African Ballet for which he choreographed 15 dances, and worked for the Perfoming Arts Councils (inter alia PACOFS) and for private companies.

An investigation into Staff's choreographic contribution to Leslie French's 1956 Johannesburg production of The Tempest as well as Staff's early involvement with Brian Brooke's musical theatre encapsulates his important contribution to South African musical theatre, which was a major interest throughout his life. 1957 was the most important and prolific period for Staff.

His most notable work in terms of theatre history is his works based on South African stories and works and became a precursor of the influential modern dance and physical theatre movements which developed to full strength in the late 1980s. Prominent among these were his seminal versions of N.P. van Wyk Louw's poem Raka and the narrative of The Rain Queen. Both performances were also filmed.

Other stage productions choreographed by Staff include the choreography for Brian Brooke's Irma la Douce (1960) and Brian Brooke and John Kavan’s The Minstrel Show (1966).

Lighting and choreography for Platonic Nymph (1960); musical staging and choreography for How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1965).


Programme, Raka, Cape Town City Ballet, KKNK, April,

Wikipedia [1].

Tucker, 1997.

G. Rosen's 1999 UCT Ph.D.

The Rand Daily Mail, 18 June 1957.

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