Dance, fashion and music helped shape pioneer teacher’s life

EVELYN Belford (née DeGuise) was a pioneer of the Perth dance scene, taking up dancing as a teenager.

She went on to make a big impression as both dancer and teacher.

Born in North Perth in January 1912, Evelyn spent her early years in Boulder, moving to Perth when she was about 10.

She did most of her schooling in Victoria Park, taking up dancing through Ethel Philp’s School of Dance in her early teens.

Hard work and long hours studying meant Evelyn had careers in dance, fashion and music, learning the art of dressmaking and becoming a qualified seamstress in her late teens.

She also completed her qualifications as a music teacher through the WA school system by her early twenties.

During this period, Evelyn also worked towards her dance medals and qualifications in dance, studying under Ethel Philp, Mary Shaw, Bob Scudder and Rene Esler.

At 24, on top of a full-time teaching career and working in the fashion industry, Evelyn opened her own school of dance, the Evelyn DeGuise School of Dancing between Hay Street and St George’s Terrace, opposite His Majesty’s Theatre.

Assisted by Alan Belford she ran classes mainly in Old Time dancing, as well as incorporating the newly developing ballroom styles.

During this period, she was also competing, doing well in both the Ballroom and Old Time styles in local competition and State level championships.

In 1937 Evelyn married Alan Belford, the couple settling in Mount Hawthorn from Belmont.

Later that year Evelyn closed her school and became mother to the son Charles (known as Fred) born in early 1938.

Alan continued to teach and produced a locally sold theory book on dance, which was originally published in the Western Mail newspaper.

It was later published in book form by Paterson’s Printing Press and sold for two shillings.

Evelyn continued in her role in the fashion industry, taking on a greater role with the production of Ballroom and Old Time competition dresses created for medallists for studios throughout the metropolitan area.

Sadly the couple’s marriage was not to last and in late 1938 Evelyn moved back to Belmont, then to Doubleview, then Belmont again, where she would remain for about 20 years.

After a long break from dance, Evelyn returned to teaching in 1956 for Wrightsons dance studios at Hay Street Perth (Durham House), then at the Murray Street studio, where she remained for about four years before taking on the management of the Midland branch, which she held through the 1960s.

Evelyn Belford & Gary Cooper

Evelyn is remembered for her wish to teach those who wanted to learn the correct way to dance and realise the beauty of moving around the floor with grace and style.

She both assisted in and was at times instrumental in helping to produce future generations of professionals in the dance industry of dance in WA along with helping develop the vibrant and colourful social scene of dance in Perth through the 60s.

If anyone in the Perth dance scene has historic photos and information for Adam Penn’s ongoing dance series, please contact Adam at or on mobile 0412 361 917.