DANCING WITH DELIGHT -Da Katipa-
Dancing With Delaight by Cherie Devliotis - published 2005 -
As with Doreen O’Leary, Da Katipa’s name, sometimes shown as Dorothy,is to be found all over this book.She wanted to dance day and night – that’s dancing herself,teaching, and auditioning for every show on in town with the wish to be chosen as one of the dancing girls.
Sandra Coney, (1993) has written about Da. She was born in 1920. When only.11 yearss of age and in the pantomime Cinderella, she was able to send one pound a week home to her family bearing out her grand mother’s hope that in the young Dorothy there could be the making of family provider. In the first exams held in New Zealand in 1935, Da was the only one in her class to pass.
She was seen in floorshows at the Peter Pan.The Auckland Star shows that in November 1946 Dar and Geraldo were exhibition dancers. Her credentials in 1957 were: R.A.D. Advanced, London (1939); F.A.T.D.(Ass.AustI.B.B.;F.A.T.D.(Elem.Com.Theatrical);Member NZAP and D;holder Teachers and Judges Certicate.
She was awarded the Commemorative Medal for services to New Zealand the field of dance in 1990.
An example of one of Da’s recitals was of Thursday 9 May 1957 at the Town Hall Concert Chamber, that saw her dancing with Gerald McAuley in Tales of Vienna Woods and this had Gerald in the part of the grandfather in Peter and the Wolf. Hugh Lynn, as an intermediate pupil, had several roles.
In 1960 Da started a ballroom school for very young people at her studio in Mt.Eden, detailed in the Weekly News.Here,at 7.30pm on Wednesday nights,children as young as three Years old took to the floor in ballroom dances. Many went into championships and some one bronze medals. Her husband, Gerald McAuley, had his own premises for teaching in the city. Together the entered the World Professional Championships in Australia.
In Da Katipa we have a person who danced since the age of three and still wanted to dance when she was 80 years old. Her esteemed place among the early Auckland danceris certainly assured.
Her spirit is still with us in her huge dancing studio. She was just 4’9″ tall.Hanging on rack is a row of her tiny colourful costumes. Her certificates of achievement cover one wall.Here on this this shiny floor generations of Aucklanders came to learn to dance. All of Da’s things are kept carefully in order by her son, Hugh Lynn.
As Hugh describes his mother she was a woman of indomitable will. Her creed was – if you put in the work you’ve got to be a success. She proved this in her own career and imbued her pupils with this absolute belief.
When Da was litlle she and her mother got work in the circus which came over from Australia.They did trapeze acts and bareback riding.Da was atop the littlest pony in the world. It was a hard life for all the circus folk. After putting down the tent in one town they travelled by horse-and- to the next, there to repeat it all again. This continued right throughout New Zealand.
As a child Da had strong support and interest from the women around her. Living with her mother and grandmother in a house at the top of Queen Street she attended school at St.Benedict’s and because the nuns recognised her special “gift” of dancing they didn’t fuss if she was sleepy in class after having been up half the night dancing.
Da started lessons with Ruby Philips in highland dancing at the age of three. Then her grandmother made an arrangement whereby she would do housekeeping for Valeska, who would teach Da dancing in exchange.So from the age of six to when Da was 19 years old,Valeska would be both teacher and mentor to her. Very early on, due to her urge to teach. Da beceme a helper, coaching other little girls in the classes. She passed exams, her last one in balletcAdvanced, in 1939 at the age of 19.
As well as the whirl of shows Valeska put on, Da toured New Zealand with shows such as the pantomine Cinderella and she danced regularly in Auckland Operatic Society productions in company with the same “hard core” of Auckland dancers whose names feature in the programmes time again. She pursued many forms of dancing in order to qualify as a teacher in each particular discipline. Hugh says that she had an insatiable appetite for would pick one type of dancing and pursue it until she got the top honours,then she would start on another. These were personal demonstrations of setting a target and working to achieve it.
None of this effort was lost on Hugh who carries the goal setting work-ethic into what he does in life. From the time he was born he was in her studio. Earlier, (1944-1962) this was in part of the premises of Margaret O’Connor, the ballroom teacher, in Mills Lane, off Queen Street, where Da would teach by day. Hugh was put into the Competitions at the age of three and was soon winning prizes. He says he liked winning. The household consisted of Hugh, his mother and grandfather, who would live as part of the family unit until
Hugh was 25 years old.At night Da went off to the Civic to star in two late-night cabaret shows put on in the Wintergarden after the film finished.She was working day and night.
It was in 1961 that Da,with her second husband Gerald McAuley, who was also a dancer, had her own purpose-built studio in the grand old house in Dominion Road.Scores of Aucklanders know this venue had the place they took their children to her classes. As Hugh says, “She had the abaliti to see the dance in the child,and she knew how to bring it out. Her belief in you gave you confidience. For style she designed the steps and the music.
And so:liSe were recitals; there was putting lots of children into the Competitions,both on their own and in the Da Katipa dancing groups;there was the preparation of children for examination. Arlene Colbert and Colleen Tange gained their Solo Seal exams. Some of the pupil become teachers.Students,once married,brought their new children to her for lessons. Hugh merried one of his fellow-students.
“Mother had an iron will-power.There were no exceptions, no sympathy for failure,no thought that you couldn’t do it.You would be taken and trained.She pushed people mentally and physically.It opened something inside. At the finish of class when everyone was exhausted she would say,”Right,do a thousand changements now.”
Hugh was the recipient of on-going training by his mother,moving up with the age-groups.When asked if he had a particular bent towards one form of dancing he said,”No,I just did what Mother told me”. In the end he came out with his Elementary Exam in ballet and had the oportunity to go England but finances would not allow this.As Australia was more accessible for competing, he came out 6th place in the World Ballroom Championship. But he had his sights set on other things and presently looks back on 40 years involved in the promotion of entertainment,with many more ideas in the pipeline,one of which would be the creation of a fabulous book.The unique relationship of this mother-teacher Da, with her son pupil Hugh reached a poignant ending when Da became ill.After a life of total independ beholden to no-one and resting on her own efforts for everything she got,now the studio was silent and empty and she realised she could not be in full charge any longer.
Acting on a vision a tohunga arrived and stayed a tew days.He told Hugh that he had a responsibility to place her in a state ready to go upstairs. Hugh was already doing this. Her last months were a special time.A time of sharing together their intimate relationship,of the younger person shouldering the burden of his strong-willed mother’s annoyance at her inability to be feisty anymore.
Da was truly a life-time dancer.
Dorothy Virginia Mangaere Katipa passed away 24 January 2000.Some excerpts from death notices are as follows:
‘Respected former delegate to the New Zealand Dance and Dancesports Council.Da’s life dedication to dance will live on in the history of New Zealand dance’.
A dance icon in New Zealand.Her teaching talents produced numerous New Zealand champions’.
‘Sadly missed by all who loved her’.
‘Highly recognized Executive Life Member of SATD NZ.A great mentor to many Zealand champions’.