Dame Marina Keet de Grut

Marina Keet (Mrs. M. Grut)

 

Dame of the Order of Queen Isabel of Spain

(Lazo de Dama de la Orden de Isabel la Católica)

Hon. Life President of the Spanish Dance Society International

Emeritus Professorial Lecturer, George Washington University, USA

Member of the International Dance Council (CID)

Mrs Marina Grut is author of several books, and of numerous articles for dance magazines and international encyclopaedias; e.g. the books Spanish Dance (University of Cape Town, 1971); The History of Ballet in South Africa (Human & Rousseau, Cape Town, 1981, ISBN 0 7981 1089 9); The Jota (Spanish Dance Society, 2001); The Bolero School (Dance Books Ltd, London, 2002, ISBN 1 85273 081 1), which codified all the steps and selected dances, and for which she also produced an accompanying DVD; and Royal Swedish Ballet. History from 1592 to 1962 (Georg Olms Verlag, Hildesheim, 2007, ISBN 978 3 487 13494 9); also a paper for the Spanish Ministry of Culture’s symposium Encuentro Escuela Bolera in Madrid in 1992. Contributor to many International Dance Dictionaries.

          In Sweden she received, from the hand of Princess Christina, the 2008 Gold Medal of the Carina Ari Foundation “for honouring the art of Swedish dance” with her book on the history of the Royal Swedish Ballet from 1592 to1962 (see below). In 1989 King Juan Carlos I of Spain invested Marina Keet de Grut as Dame of the Order of Queen Isabel of Spain (Lazo de Dama de la Orden de Isabel la Católica), given in recognition of her services in presentation and preservation of Spanish dance.

In 1987 Keet was presented with the Special Achievement award by the Hispanic Institute for the Performing Arts in the USA. In 1997 the Spanish Dance Society in the USA presented a Lifetime Achievement Award to her, and the Mayor of Washington named a day in her honour. The International Association of Blacks in Dance bestowed “the Outstanding Service Award for many years of service to dance in Metropolitan Washington DC” in 2003. With her "Spanish Dance Theatre" company, she produced sold-out, requested performances at the Kennedy Center, Washington DC, USA.

          From 1951 to 1956: studied ballet and other European regional dance styles at the University of Cape Town Ballet School in South Africa, dancing in their company, teaching Spanish dance and ballet history again 1961-1976, helping to devise a dance degree course.  Her love for Spanish dancing led her to specialize in that art form. She choreographed many performances for the UCT Ballet Company, including Fiesta Manchega which was taken to a youth music festival in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Has choreographed for the Cape Performing Arts Board (CAPAB) Opera and Theatre, and for many productions for CAPAB Ballet Company: Misa Flamenca, with Mavis Becker, Deanna Blacher, Hazel Acosta and Cynthia Rowe; The Three-Cornered Hat was choreographed for Phyllis Spira and Gary Burne; and several other ballets for the Cape Performing Arts Board (CAPAB). Guest artistes included Mercedes Molina and Enrique Segovia from Johannesburg, also Emilio Acosta and Antonio Salas from Spain.

            Percussion Bolero and The Magic Circle were choreographed for the Danza Lorca company in Cape Town. In some of these the guest artist was the Spanish dancer José Antonio (Ruiz), the Director of the Spanish National Ballet.

          In 1965 she co-founded the Spanish Dance Society, and was one of the architects of an examination system for teaching Spanish dance in order to preserve in the purest forms the classical Escuela Bolera, regional dances, flamenco and Danza Estilizada.  In 1977 she founded the Spanish Dance Society in Italy and in 1982 in the USA. There, between 1982 and 1993, she taught Spanish dancing at the University of Maryland and, as Professorial Lecturer, at George Washington University in Washington DC. The Spanish Dance Society celebrates its 50th Anniversary in 2015.

In Washington DC in 1982 she also founded the Spanish Dance Theatre company. There the company presented performances and lecture demonstrations at venues such as the Kennedy Center, the Smithsonian Institute, the National Gallery of Art, and the National Geographic Society, as well as annual performances in the historic theatre of the Museum of Natural History, in New York; the company opened the Goya exhibition in Boston with dances from that era, and in New York they performed at the Juilliard School of Music. In June 2003 Keet presented a lecture-demonstration on the Escuela Bolera at the New Orleans International Ballet Conference, celebrating the Louisiana Purchase.

          She now lives in London, where she is Hon. Life President of the International Spanish Dance Society. She writes for The Dancing Times in London, and was a critic for the now discontinued Flamenco International Magazine. She has contributed to many international encyclopedias. Born 1934, married to Dr Mikael Grut. They have three children and eight grandchildren.

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